Geek confession: I don’t like Star Wars
Over the past few years something has happened. Being a Geek has become… cool. It came out of nowhere – or perhaps out of the Internet. All of a sudden “geek” seems to be a badge of honour rather than an insult.
Like all badges of honour, one has to earn it.
There are certain things expected of your average Geek. If you don’t know, for example, what Linux is and you can’t understand the webcomic XKCD you might just be called a poser.
Another one of those things that is expected of the genuine, qualified, Geek is an affection for Star Wars.
As you probably guessed by the title of this post, that is one Geek qualification I don’t have. I know it equates to sacrilege but I just can’t get into it. It’s not like I haven ‘t tried. I really have. I made the n00b mistake of watching all of them in the wrong order (1 – 6), then watched them again in the right order (4-6, 1-3). I tried to appreciate the insightfulness of the idea of The Force, the coolness of Jedi Mind Tricks. I tried really hard to like Han, to find the Wookie adorable. I loved the Ewoks… but in the animated series no one else seems to remember. I even had a sit-through where I watched ALL of THEM in a row because perhaps you had to see them one after the other to get a feel for it. All I got was bored. During Episode 3 I started making a pot holder out of some twine.
It’s one of those things I don’t speak about often, frightened I might alienate my fellow Geek-kind (my dislike of the sacrosanct Star Wars, not the pot holder although that might do likewise). I have a good laugh at the AT-AT dog suits, and the Wookie Slippers with the best of them, hoping that perhaps one day something might trigger something deep inside me and my inner fan will break free.
A while ago I saw this video on Cracked and it suddenly all became clear to me.
If you don’t want to watch it (it’s a really funny video so I suggest you do) basically what it says is this: girls have no one positive to identify with in Star Wars. This isn’t some kind of feminist campaign, it’s just the honest truth. The only Star Wars woman with any personality at all is Leia and even she ends up putting her hunky man before the Empire and dancing in underwear for a slimey mob boss.
I have nothing in common with her and since I have nothing in common with any of the characters in the plot I find it really difficult to care what happens to any of them.
Instead, my Geeky childhood was filled with Star Trek. And boy, was it filled with it. I loved Voyager from the first episode I saw (Day of Honour for any curious, and yes, I still know that). Now looking at it years later I can see why: Janeway was a strong, female leader filled with class. She was humanitarian and incredibly intelligent – exactly the kind of person I aspired to be. B’Elenna Torres may have had emotional issues, but she was a kick-ass engineer with her own strong moral code. In every Star Trek series there are awesome women I can and want to identify with: Deanna, Beverly, Uhura, Kira, Dax…
Of course I didn’t realise that’s what it was a the time. After watching Star Wars Episode 1 when it first came out, I was convinced that it was to do with the plot: Star Trek’s plots were meaty and filled with cerebral content for my young mind to chew on, Star Wars was “look at my fast car and BIG EXPLOSIONS”.
But now I look at the other sci-fi I enjoy: Firefly (“look at my spaceship and BIG EXPLOSIONS and my gun, I also have a big gun”), Stargate (“We go to alien world where we kick ass”), Buffy (not technically sci fi but bear with me -”We use childish language to express complex issues, have soap opera romances and kill demons”) – they’re not exactly filled with intellectual issue-wrangling are they? (Doctor Who is exempt from this list because it is). Yet all of them have… you guessed it, kick ass women.
Now it’s not the fact that they’re women that’s important in this particular case. It’s not about equal representation – nice as that is it’s a whole other issue. It’s about this:
Science Fiction and Fantasy work as genres because they are escapism – they give you the ability to visit other worlds, to go where no one has gone before. You can do things you’d never do in real life: defend your planet, go through a wormhole, date a vampire *ahem*. But your ability to go up there to the stars with the characters relies on something very specific: your ability to identify with them. You need to, for the duration of that book/movie/series, be able to put yourself in the character’s shoes – not always, mind you, but at least some of the time. It’s why Twilight works. The only reason it does in my view: because girls who read it get the chance to be wanted by supernatural beings.
So where does that put me and Star Wars?
It’s not that Star Wars is bad, it’s not that it’s even committed some crime against my gender. It’s just that everything that could have made it magical from a purely non-participatory standpoint – the secrets, the lies, the surprises – are out there in pop culture already (“Luke, I’m your father” *gasp*). In order to appreciate it, all that’s left is getting into the character’s shoes and going on an adventure with them. And I can’t do that. The shoe doesn’t fit.
So I’ve finally accepted it. I don’t like Star Wars. I never will. I like the culture around it, I like the people who like it, but the beast itself?
Hand me my phaser.
Or if that’s out of reach, a ball of twine will do. I’ll go amuse myself elsewhere.
Posted on January 13, 2012, in Geek culture, Movies, Reflections, Writing and tagged ewoks, fellow geek, geek, jedi mind tricks, star trek, star wars, why girls don't like star wars, women. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.