What Would Rosie Say is a feature in Bottle Magazine Culture that will review movies and series on a feminism scale of 1-5 Rosie the Riveters.
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace – 4 out of 5 Riveters
The movie begins on the desert planet Tatooine where the Jedis Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon find Anakin Skywalker after rescuing young Queen Amidala from the invasion of Naboo. Anakin wins his pod race and takes his freedom to train as a Jedi. Anakin and the queen, back on Naboo, face a massive invasion and Darth Maul (who doesn’t carry a maul for some lame reason). Out come the re-emergent forces of the Sith.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in “The Phantom Menace,” two are female: Queen Amidala/Padme and Shmi Skywalker.
Do not get me wrong: Padme was a game changer for me. I watched “Star Wars” as a young girl and yearned to be powerful and smart and humble, and to find what I believe in and stick to it just as Padme did. She’s decisive, compassionate and determined in a way that isn’t looked down upon by her male peers. She isn’t called bossy or told to step down because she’s a woman. She can handle a gun and leads her royal guard in retaking her throne though a scheme she devises herself. She was a great role model.
But she was the only female role model in that entire film. Boys my age got Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. They got to see (negative) power in Senator Palpatine and Darth Maul. But hey, at least we didn’t get Jar Jar.
Moreover, I also wished I had paler skin and hoped that one day I would be thin and beautiful like Padme was. I wanted to find a man who would love me like Anakin did, only to discover that maybe it was women who I wanted to love me back instead. Feminism is intersectional, and while she fed into my white, straight feminism (and did a good job), there is so much more that could have positively impacted me. Queen Amidala’s style though – damn, “Star Wars” nailed it. She wasn’t oversexualized in this movie and everything she wore was beautiful and powerful and totally over-the-top sci-fi.
Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones – 3 out of 5 Riveters
Fast-forward 10 years: The galaxy is on the brink of civil war. Hayden Christensen is rocking a braid. Count Dooku leads thousands of solar systems wanting to break away from the Galactic Republic. An assassination attempt is made on Padme (forever scaring every desert child when they see a centipede), and she is put under the protection of Anakin Skywalker. The two fall in love. The Clone Wars begin.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in “Attack of the Clones,” four are female: Padme, Shmi Skywalker, Zam Wesell and Dormé.
Padme, one of the few female characters in this Star Wars movie, is intensely objectified in the same scene that delivers on her vulnerability. She spends most of the movie clad in a tight white body suit, that really doesn’t make any sense when her male counterparts are in robes and togas. We barely see any skin from the men, but all of her skin-deep wounds are shown off by rips twice as long and wide as the original swipe.
Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith – 1 out of 5 Riveters
There was a lot to fit into one movie. Years after the onset of the Clone Wars, the Jedi Knights lead their clones into a galaxy-wide battle with the Separatists. The Sith unveil a thousand-year-old plot to rule the galaxy, the Republic crumbles and the Galactic Empire rises. Anakin Skywalker is seduced by the dark side and becomes Darth Vader, the Emperor’s new apprentice. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda are forced into hiding. Padme gives birth to twin children, born in secrecy, and dies herself because she just can’t live without Anakin.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in “Revenge of the Sith,” two are female: Padme and the Queen of Naboo.
Goddamnit. Padme’s story has officially turned from powerful on-her-own woman to quiver at the whim of her man. She’s a huge mess of tropes and clichés that undermine all women, and her death is so horribly done that io9 lists it as one of the top 10 most undignified deaths in science fiction and fantasy. She literally died because she could not live without her man. That does not sound like “The Phantom Menace” Padme to me.
Shame on you, Star Wars.
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope – 4 out of 5 Riveters
Padme’s son, Luke Skywalker, meets Obi-Wan Kenobi on the desert planet of Tatooine and is thrust into the struggle of the Rebel Alliance. Luke begins training as a Jedi and joins Obi-Wan on a mission to rescue Princess Leia from the Empire. Obi-Wan sacrifices himself in a duel with Darth Vader. Luke destroys the Death Star.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in “A New Hope,” two are female: Princess Leia and Aunt Beru. I hate the “for its time” arguments, but this movie has exactly the same amount of women in the top 15 as the next “Star Wars” produced over twenty years later.
The story starts out with a tired trope: unexpecting man saves beautiful princess. But it gets better. That beautiful princess is smart, fully-clothed and a complete badass. She’s snarky and sassy and stands up for her beliefs just like her mother did in Episode I, only better.
Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back – 3 out of 5 Riveters
A full-on battle breaks out between the Imperial Forces and the Rebels, thanks to the destruction of the Death Star. The Rebellion is defeated on the ice planet Hoth, so Luke travels to Dagobah to train with Yoda. Darth Vader lures Luke into a trap in the Cloud City of Bespin in an attempt to bring him to the Dark Side. It doesn’t work, and Luke is faced with the realization that Vader is his father, Anakin Skywalker.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in the “Empire Strikes Back,” one is female: Princess Leia.
Leia is the only female in this movie, which is pretty rough. She kicks butt, but the audience is forced to watch as her brother is trained to become a Jedi and she is not. She’s stuck in this awful love triangle between her brother and Han Solo (swoon), and that’s pretty much her entire character arc. I love me some Leia, but I would have really loved a little more depth in this one too.
Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi – 3 out of 5 Riveters
The Empire creates an even more powerful Death Star and the Rebel fleet attacks the space station. Luke confronts his father before the Emperor and Vader saves his son. The Empire is defeated, the Sith are destroyed and freedom is restored to the galaxy.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in the “Return of the Jedi,” one is female: Princess Leia.
During the film, Leia is captured and forced into a golden bikini by Jabba the Hutt. She chokes him to death with her own chains (girl power), but dressing her in that famous bikini was pretty gratuitous and useless.
While Luke is busy fighting with their father, Leia does wage a foot battle with LIVE TEDDYBEARS. Han commands the on-land fleet (which makes no sense considering Leia is a Rebel leader), Leia communicates with a completely new species (women do tend to be better at communicating *hair flip*) and their team saves lives.
Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens – 5 out of 5 Riveters
Thirty years after the defeat of the Galactic Empire, the First Order attempts to rule the galaxy. Along with the Resistance, Rey, Finn and Han Solo fight to stop them.
Out of the top 15 paid actors in “The Force Awakens,” four are female: Princess Leia, Rey, Maz Kanata and Captain Phasma. It’s a disappointing turnout. Annoying bit of trivia: Mark Hamill was paid more for his 10-second, zero-line piece on camera than Carrie Fisher was for her entire time on the film.
But, we did it. We got a female lead and we rejoiced. She doesn’t want to hold your hand. She doesn’t need your help. Not a ton of female supporting characters, but character No. 2 is black, so another win for the Riveter scale.
It could have been better. It could always be better. But Episode VII did well and lands with full Riveters. You go girl.
Christianna Silva is an adventurous, optimistic feminist who can hold her own in a few topics: politics, music, baking and books. At a party, you can find her consoling the hostess’s pets and sipping a gin and tonic.