Alarming News: I like Morgan Freeberg. A lot.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: We were following a trackback and thinking "hmmm... this is a bloody excellent post!", and then we realized that it was just part III of, well, three...Damn. I wish I'd written those.
Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler: ...I just remembered that I found a new blog a short while ago, House of Eratosthenes, that I really like. I like his common sense approach and his curiosity when it comes to why people believe what they believe rather than just what they believe.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is an intriguing guy...[he] asks great questions and answers others with style, flair, reason and wit. On the blogroll he goes. Make him a part of your regular blogospheric reading. I certainly will.
Brutally Honest: Morgan Freeberg is brilliant.
Common Sense Junction: Misha @ Anti-Idiotarian never ceases to amaze me. He keeps finding other good blogs. I went over to A.I. this morning for my daily Misha fix and he had found this guy named Morgan Freeberg in Fair Oaks, California, that has a blog, House of Eratosthenes. Freeberg says its "The Blog That Nobody Reads" but it may now become the blog that everybody reads.
Jaded Haven: Good God, Morgan, you cover a topic from front to back with a screwy thoroughness I find mind boggling. I'm in awe of your thought proccesses, my friend, you're an exceptional talent. You start by throwing in the kitchen sink, tie in someone's syphilitic uncle, bend around a rip tide of brilliance and bring it all home in a neat, diamond dripping package of an exceptionally readable moment of damn fine wordsmithing. I love reading you.
Mein Blogovault: Make "the Blog that No One Reads" one of your daily reads.
Philmon: When Morgan meanders, stick with him - he's got a point and it'll be worth it in the end. He's not a hit-and-run snarky quip kind of guy. The pieces all fall into place like tumblers in a lock and bang! He's opened a cognative door for you.
Rightlinx: Morgan at House of Eratosthenes is one of the best writers out there. I read him nearly every day because he manages to provide an interesting perspective, even though I don't always agree.
Poetic Justice: Cletus! Ah gots a laiv one fer yew...
Yes, perhaps it’s an opinion I’m better off keeping to myself. Certainly, it’s the minority opinion, and bound to be unpopular. I don’t mean to pick on the girls. This is something that galls me all to pieces, when it’s about male authority figures as well as female authority figures.
Authority figures in movies must use their authority, and not just to win arguments. If it’s a story about authority, it is the story of a decision, which means the story must rely on the decision to make it what it is; and the decision has to make for a good story. Vito Corleone told Sollozzo no to going into the drug business, which was an event that caused subsequent, dependent, weightier events. His son Michael met Sollozzo with Captain McCluskey, and decorated the wallpaper with their brains. Indiana Jones went tearing after a Nazi truck convoy on a horse “mak[ing] it up as [he went] along.” Marshal Will Kane stuck around Hadleyville, waiting for the noon train to bring Frank Miller into town. Walter White decided to start cooking meth. King Leonidas decided to head out an intercept Xerxes’ invading army. Dagny Taggart decided to build the John Galt railroad line. Juror #7 voted not to convict.
These were extraordinary decisions. Most of them had antithetical decisions that could have been made, that weren’t made…these were usually the safer options, with lots of powerful, persuasive arguments about how they should have been the ones chosen, like “it’s the law” or “nobody’s done that before!” Those persuasive arguments made a lot of sense. That’s why the extraordinary decision, the one that was actually made, helped create a good story.
Princess Leia, like all Star Wars women (all 3 or 4 of them) didn’t even make beneficial decisions let alone extraordinary ones. Seriously. Go back and make a list of all the decisions women make, and what comes of them. A woman deciding something, for the most part, is a harbinger of disaster. Hey, I didn’t write it, I’m just pointing out the truth here. Last decision Princess Leia made that led to anything good, was “Go get help from Obi-Wan Kenobi.” Last truly extraordinary decision she made, was “into the garbage chute, flyboy!” How’d that go?
Not my intention to sully the memory of the recently departed. But declining standards are always troubling. If Princess Leia’s story was one of veering away from the commonly-accepted, commonsense decision, spotting some subtle clue that tipped off that this would have led to inferior results, or perhaps gotten some innocent people hurt or killed, and saved the day by choosing an alternative while everyone else was doing nothing but expressing doubts; then I’d be all for this hagiography over the latest fictionalized example of good leadership.
That’s not what Princess Leia has been, because that’s not what Star Wars has been. It’s not the story of authority figures in high places making good decisions that save the day. It’s a story of people in low places, down in the trenches, close to the action, saving the day (after the people in charge have made a mess of things).
And Leia has really been nothing more than the less talented half of the Skywalker twins. With an annoying mouth on her. She’s a “role model” to a lot of people because a lot of people think “annoying mouth” is a desirable attribute to be encouraged in young girls growing up into women. Well it’s not. I like that she ticked off the feminists by wearing a skimpy gold bathing suit, and in so doing inspired the “cosplay” costume that is far & away Number One; I like that the feminists are constantly prepping to do battle against this “objectification,” missing the point that she was wearing this while she killed Jabba the Hutt. It helps show that feminists aren’t in favor of female empowerment after all. I like that they constantly and consistently embarrass themselves this way. I like that people have the opportunity to see this is what post-modern feminism really is. I like that we’re so often reminded, it’s the feminists who can’t imagine a woman could be good-looking, and smart, at the same time.
But Leia was the personification of wise, strong female save-the-day leadership, like Steve Jobs was the personification of a nerd who figures out how to build things that work. Both symbols are rather empty, lacking the full weight of truth behind them. Again: Standards. For a vision of strong save-the-day female leadership, the real-life historical figure of Maggie Thatcher is far better.
Bears repeating, this isn’t girl-bashing. If the story is about exceptional decision-making, it has to include one-to-several exceptional decisions.
Update 1/21/17: Via something called Grunge: Looks like I get to take a victory lap.
As far as most fans are concerned, Leia Organa is an absolutely beloved character and always has been. She’s a take-charge, badass woman who rescues others as much as she gets rescued, and doesn’t take crap from anybody. There’s a reason that Leia’s a feminist icon — even when she’s put in a weird gold bikini to be an alien slug’s slave, she ends up choking the actual life out of him.
Thing is, according to no less than Carrie Fisher herself, Leia being a beloved icon from Scene 1 on was not the case. In a 1983 interview with Rolling Stone magazine (the one with possibly the greatest cover of any publication in the galaxy), Fisher revealed that the writers struggled to make Leia easy to relate to. Because she had lost her planet and everyone on it, Fisher said “all she has is a cause” and that for the writers, the “only way they knew to make the character strong was to make her angry.”
Therefore, the same strength that many fans love about Leia left a lot of early fans cold, and Fisher said they thought she was “some kind of space b****.” According to her, Return of the Jedi involved very deliberate reinvention of her character, where she “gets to be more feminine, more supportive, more affectionate.” (This would explain her more pronounced romance with Han, friendship with Ewoks, empathy with Luke, and so on.)
The ironic downside to softening her character, however, is that because these movies were presented as “basically boys’ fantasies,” the filmmakers felt they couldn’t fully feminize Leia without having “her take off her clothes” — hence, the infamous gold bikini was born.
Fisher’s screen presence is always enjoyable because her acting is good, the direction is sound, and the character seems real. But it’s always been an underdeveloped character, rather like a character on NCIS. What’s unique about Princess Leia? She’s not so much a character, as an event within an adventure being had by Luke and Han Solo: They go to rescue the Princess, and she showers them with a lot of verbal grief.
Movies, in general, just haven’t been good for feminism. Chick characters are not developed the same way as dude characters. The task arises to confront script-writers, directors and actresses, “Make this female character into an inspiring feminist icon,” and from all the attempts made, not much success is realized anywhere.
The default answer that’s emerged seems to be something like “Make her so unbearable and obnoxious, nobody would ever want to do anything with her, unless they were forced.” Well, someday they’ll get it right…
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