Pissing on Metal Bikinis

And so what’s the first thing I’m going to write about? Star Wars of course. Okay okay, I know you’re tired of hearing about how amazing Episode 7 is going to be when we haven’t see the actual movie. I know the subject of this article is old hat now, but I don’t care. I have something to say about it that nobody else seems to be saying. So let’s talk about something super dumb that happened in the world of Star Wars, because this kind of stupidity is frankly quite absurd.

It begins as it always does. A single father and his two daughters browsing around a Target toy aisle in Philadelphia. Specifically, they were searching for presents for a birthday party. So where else do you go, but the Star Wars section which, by the way, probably looked just like this.

This is a crime in itself. I mean come on Hasbro, where the heck are the toys. I mean, it’s just a piece of plastic, I’m not sure why it’s so hard to pay stupidly low prices to your factory workers to poop this stuff out. It’s not like Hasbro is in league with eBay…are they? Elan?

Anyway, so when he saw the above travesty, and actually started looking at the only couple of toy options available…he found this horrifyingly unacceptable sight:

A Star Wars Black Series 6 inch Princess Leia, in her slave costume from Jabba’s Palace. Oh, and I’m imagining it looked just like this in his Target. Because in my Target, apparently nobody buys these Leias, but ESPECIALLY nobody buys a damn Greedo figure. Clearly, these peg warmers have been talking. They’re planning a revolution. Leia is going to lead a goddamned Rodean army and conquer our world like some sort of Christopher Nolan remake of Toy Story.

And then he called the only reputable news site left these days. FOX News. Granted, I’m already suspicious of this guy. I mean, he finds an upcoming revolution and he calls FOX news? How about the damn police man! The FBI? Okay, maybe the news will report to the police. I mean, it’s FOX News, but still.
FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Wait, what? He’s offended at Leia’s outfit? Okay, let’s get real here. As much as I’ve made light of the situation, I can sorta get it. We’ve been exposed (pun intended?) to Leia’s sexy outfit for over 30 years now. Thirty years of seeing Return of the Jedi, of seeing Jennifer Anniston in the metal bikini, of playing with the toys, and frankly lots and lots of porn, will make anyone forget how shocking something can be. I mean, clearly, this guy is either making this up for the attention, or legitimately has been living under a rock for 30 years and has never seen Star Wars. Personally, I think he’s making up this shit for publicity, as evidenced by the fact that he was apparently recording his daughter walking down the toy aisle with his cell phone. But there’s a bit more legitimacy to this guy’s complaint than I think many Star Wars fans are willing to admit. I mean, we all thought that outfit was shocking, intriguing, or just downright hot back in the 80’s. Even Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia herself, admitted that she probably should have been shocked by that outfit.  

 

 

There’s also the very legitimate point that it’s labeled as a “slave outfit.” A woman appearing in a sexy outfit and labeled as a “slave” is an awful affront to the progress feminism has made and the barriers that still need to be broken down. On the surface.

 

 

Cultural touchstones have a real funny tendency to be immune to criticism, even when taboos are incurred. That’s because the members of that culture understand the unstated history and assumptions of that touchstone. In this case, there are a lot. Anyone who hasn’t seen Star Wars will never know that this slightly offensive outfit is a symbol of the power of Princess Leia. Sure, she’s captured, but in an amazing reversal, it is in fact the princess that storms the castle and rescues the damsel in distress (Han Solo). Although she is captured and put in the offending slave costume, she uses the very tools of her enslavement, the chains that bind her to Jabba’s platform, to strangle the fat slug king and make her escape. Sure, Luke, Han, and Lando provide a distraction outside as they clumsily save their own skins, but Leia doesn’t need them, and doesn’t even wait for them. She just strangles, gets Artoo to snap the chains, and GTFO’s.

 

 

And this is why most people who’ve ever seen Star Wars are scoffing at this guy. Because they know the symbolism behind the costume. The chains aren’t associated with binding, they are associated with her strength of will, her exasperated “ughs” at Jabba’s grotesque form, and her eventual freedom. Or at least that’s what all the other Star Wars blogs are saying. I agree that I’ve never considered Princess Leia a weak female archetype. She’s an incredibly strong female role model. But while this figure flew off the shelves back in the 80s, they’ve been peg warmers ever since Hasbro re-released the slave outfit Leia as a Black Series figure. There’s a reason nobody’s buying it. I personally have a ton of Star Wars figures proudly displayed around my desk at work. But would I display a Slave Leia? Nah, it’s just a little distasteful to have a figure that is essentially a woman in a bikini in a workplace. And the fact that these figures don’t sell means I’m not the only one who thinks that. As much as Slave Leia represents something symbolic, aesthetically, the figure is a bit embarrassing. So much so that another strange controversy came up that provoked the exact opposite response. During the same week that this man from the stone-age and his daughter gasped in the toy aisle, Amy Schumer was proving his point by dressing up in the same outfit, having sex with droids, and sucking on various cylindrical objects in an exclusive photoshoot for GQ magazine.

Yikes. Like literally, what the eff? This was a terrible idea. Clearly that lightsaber would slice her face in half.  

 

Most of the Star Wars fans that ignored Mr. Stone Age’s complaints suddenly had a lot to say about Amy Schumer dressing up in the same outfit and sucking on C-3PO’s finger. And I perfectly understand Theresa Delgado’s outrage. I don’t agree with how much she got abused on Twitter for her comments. She is allowed her opinion like anyone else, and I absolutely respect it as a Star Wars fan, as a feminist, and as a human friggin begin. The biggest problem here is that Amy Schumer is pissing on the symbolism I just mentioned. She’s amplifying the sexuality of that slave outfit that Star Wars fans are all too willing to ignore and taking it to an extreme, completely divorcing it from the female empowerment we’d rather consider the outfit representing.

But I want to closely consider that last thought for a second. We’d rather consider the outfit to represent something else, and completely ignore the obvious surface interpretation. The thing is that we all know the Slave Leia outfit is a sexual thing. We all know that lightsabers are kinda phallic in nature, especially considering we barely ever seen women wielding them in the movies. And of course it’s absurd for Princess Leia to be having sex with an android and an astromech. Many of us men have seen the Star Wars porn. Some women have probably been asked to wear the outfit by their boyfriends. A lesser group of those women actually have. The sexual nature of the golden bikini is not unknown to us. What are we saying by getting offended by this rather idiotic parody? That we’d rather not think of Star Wars as a sexual thing? Yes, this photoshoot is stupid and pandering, it’s comedy that’s not even funny. But stupid is all I’d call it, not offensive. Amy Schumer’s only crime is that she dared to invoke the sexual power that’s inherent in the Slave Leia outfit, and in fact, even celebrated it.

I think what we need to realize is that both controversies represent different sections of the same slider. The simple reality is that both this father and the fans that freaked out over GQ’s photoshoot are freaking out over the same thing. That Princess Leia’s outfit is absolutely sexual in nature. But why are we unwilling to accept this fact regarding the outfit? Because we, as Americans, are still unwilling to accept that sex is anything less than taboo. By divorcing Slave Leia from the sexual connotations, and emphasizing that she actually, really, truly does get out of that outfit at some point, are we able to accept the existence of a toy on a shelf with a woman in a sexy outfit that says “slave” on it. Outside of this cultural touchstone, this wouldn’t fly.

 

 

I do want to point out that since this controversy happened a couple of week ago, Disney and Lucasfilm have disavowed any involvement in this CQ photoshoot. CQ probably shot themselves in the foot by publishing this parody, as Disney has been cracking down on making sure Star Wars is portrayed in the way they want it to be. I don’t expect that they’ll sue over it, but let’s just say that GQ probably has been knocked off of the short list for exclusives or invites.

To be clear, I don’t think the Slave Leia figures should be pulled from shelves because they’re crude. I think they should be pulled because nobody bought them. Except that everyone’s buying them now because everyone thinks Hasbro is going to recall them. Nor do I really care that much about what Amy Schumer did in her photoshoot. I am more concerned about a toy that puts a woman in a sexy outfit and calls her a slave than I am about a woman dressing up in sexy cosplay and suggesting consenting sex. That said, I’ve seen Star Wars, and I have no problem telling any kids I have in the future the whole story about the Slave Leia outfit.

But what I’m real concerned about is that the only goddamned Black Series Leia figure was the Slave Leia outfit. I mean come on Hasbro. Come on Star Wars fans. We shouldn’t be yelling about Amy Schumer. We shouldn’t be yelling at a guy who was unfortunate enough to never see Star Wars. We should be yelling at Hasbro to release some more damned figures, and I dunno, maybe release a Yavin IV Leia or a Senator outfit Leia. You know, something that actually represents the empowering figure that Leia is throughout the 3 movies instead of the 10 minutes she appears in a golden bikini in one of them? That would be nice. That way, Star Wars fans can stop doing the mental gymnastics required in pretending that the Slave Leia outfit isn’t sexual. Because come on, that makes us all look like idiots.

Greedo

And so we can deal with the real threat. The Greedos are coming guys….