Image: Disney / Lucasfilm
The latest Star Wars film, "Rogue One", has been upsetting people since before the movie even hit theatres. There has been an outcry across the Internet about another WOMAN lead for the franchise (eye roll), causing many (mainly men) on Twitter and intellectual ghettos like Reddit to speculate that Disney is turning Star Wars into a feminist movement.
But is it?
How progressive and feminist is the film? Since the release of the movie feminists around the world have seemingly been split in two camps.
One one hand, people are applauding how Jyn is at no point a damsel in distress; on the other hand, feminists are reeling at the male-dominated cast and calling it out as the worst gender imbalance since the original Star Wars trilogy.
So which is it? Is Star Wars slowly turning a beloved franchise into propaganda film for the female agenda or are we actually seeing a progression in the film industry and how it depicts women?
I believe the answer lies somewhere in between. There were only seven women with speaking roles in "Rogue One." The Rebel Alliance is overrun with male warriors, politicians and engineers. The stormtroopers who do speak are men and even the crowds in the background of bars and street scenes are heavily male dominated. This lack of a female presence does detract from the Jyn's groundbreaking feminist storyline.
Jyn's role in the movie, however, is 100% feminist. For the first time in the franchise, we had a female character that is strong, smart and a natural leader. She is the epitome of a heroine who does not need saving or to be sexed up in skimpy outfits to drive the storyline and appeal to audiences.
This costuming choice is not the only progressive element in the film; there is also none of that romantic sub-plotting we have seen in previous Star Wars films. This is what really stood out for me in the movie and made me love it more. There was no time for kissing and long, lingering looks.
"Rogue One" is a fast-paced action film that has no need for that overdone trope. Instead, "Rogue One" chooses to foreclose the possibility of romance, and this is extremely progressive. It shows that a male and female can work together to save the day without feeling the need to lock lips while their comrades are being blown up in the middle of a war zone.
It shows us just how far the Star Wars franchise has come, how much we have changed our views towards women since the 1970's and the exciting future that lies ahead for female leads in Hollywood.
If you have not seen "Rogue One" yet, go and keep these two arguments in mind. Do we throw the whole film under the bus and label it "unfeminist" because it wasn't a perfect representation of females as a whole? Or do we celebrate the progressive strides it took and the barriers it broke with the 2016 feminism that oozes out of Felicity Jones's character?