Last month, I surprised my husband with tickets to go see the newest Star Wars movie. Truth be told, it was the first Star Wars movie I’d ever seen (I’ll give you a minute to pick your jaw up off the floor), and I left the theater thinking how refreshing it was to see such a badass, independent, technologically savvy and super handy chick in the lead role. She didn’t swoon. She wasn’t overtly sexy. She was tough yet caring. Her character presented the perfect combination of traits allowing her to be both heroic and relatable. What more could you ask for in a female lead?
Fast forward a couple of days, and I discover (admittedly, belatedly) my new hero Rey is nowhere to be found in any of the official merchandise. After picking my own jaw up from the ground, a barrage of questions blew into my brain faster than a sandstorm on Jakku. The most obvious question, why, was surprisingly easy to answer thanks to an insider in the toy world who recently discussed the issue with Michael Boehm at Sweatpants and Coffee. While the original toy designs included her, after some discussion it was decided to exclude her from all merchandise not specifically tailored to girls. “No boy wants to be given a product with a girl on it,” the insider was allegedly told by higher-ups. Playboy, I’d imagine, would like to disagree, but I digress.
Disney, on the other hand, took another approach (read: the cowardly, bullshit, pathetic, half-hearted ass covering way) saying they misjudged which character people would “identify” with, and chose instead to flood the market with Kylo Ren merchandise. Assuming the majority of film-goers would identify with a guy who murdered his father, rather than a badass chick who is maybe a Jedi is bold, but in Disney’s defense, psychopaths do make up 1% of the world population, and maybe they really dig playing with male action figures. Who knows? Now, I get that Kylo Ren is the lead villain, and when you’re playing with dolls, it’s fun to have all the characters. But that seems like all the more reason to include Rey.
This got me thinking: Why even bother to include women in a film, if for all intents and purposes, you are going to pretend like they weren’t a part of the movie after it’s made? A quick check on the highest grossing films of all-time shows the top 5 movies made have females either in the lead, or playing enough of a support character that the whole landscape of the movie would be different without them. But just for shits and giggles, let’s take out the women, and see what we are left with (Warning: Contains spoilers. And satire).
- Avatar: Jake, a paralyzed Marine, takes over his dead twin’s Avatar in hopes of infiltrating the Na’vi tribe to find a way to drive them off their mineral-rich homeland. But the movie is cut short after Jake is killed, almost immediately, by a pack of Viperwolves he encounters. The all-male tribe of Na’vi stay mysterious, and the asshole miners never cut down the Home Tree. Roll credits.
- Titanic: Jack boards the Titanic after winning tickets in a gambling match. He spends a few days dancing and drinking below deck with a bunch of dudes, and then dies, presumably still a virgin on account of there being no women in the film, when the ship strikes the iceberg and sinks. In a flashback, Jack can be seen waiving his hand in front of his face while partying below deck because of the overwhelming stench of beer farts.
- Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens: Finn defects from the First Order, crashes on Jakku, and lives out the rest of his life eating sand because BB-8, who didn’t have Rey’s protection, is sold to the metal collector and returned to the First Order, thereby negating the Storm Troopers need to ever come to Jakku to find and punish him. Using the map retrieved from BB-8, the First Order finds and kills Luke Skywalker. The force is never awakened.
- Jurassic World: With the creation of the Indominus Rex comes a boat load of trouble. After she escapes, all hell breaks loose on Isla Nublar. Owen Grady, the man responsible for training the raptors, and the island’s only hope for saving the giant group of male-only tourists, meets a sad end after he receives a tracheotomy midway through the movie from a pterodactyl. Indominus Rex becomes the leader of the raptors. Everyone gets eaten. Dinosaurs, once again, rule the earth.
- The Avengers: The Tesseract wormhole gets opened, but minus Black Widow, nobody convinces Dr. Bruce Banner to trace its origins. He never Hulks-out. Iron Man has to try and find the wormhole on his own, while everyone else battles Loki. It’s a giant sausage fest, and without the bulging rage of Hulk, nobody can defeat Loki. The wormhole remains open, Chitauri take over earth, and the all-male human race is wiped out.
While these ideas are entertaining, if not incredibly disturbing, I find the reality even scarier. No more excuses and no more lies. It’s time to cut the bullshit, and recognize the women who made the movie what it is by acknowledging they were actually in the goddamn movie.