Welcome! This is a weekly blog* by Author J.L. Metcalf where I discuss anything and everything that strikes my fancy. If you have ideas on what you think I should write about, please send me an email via my website!
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*All views expressed in “The Female Perspective” are those of J.L. Metcalf, not Great Stories, Inc.
In a galaxy far, far away called Coventry,
a young girl watched in awe as Star Wars first made itself know in her world.
She marveled at the bravery, the space-y-ness of it all,
the glamor of Leia. The roughness of Solo.
The goodness of Luke.
And her mind expanded…
I wasn’t even born when the first Star Wars came out in 1977 and I was pretty young for the sequel but I remember watching them on video when I was young and loving them. Watching them over and over again. I admit, I was also the perfect age to love the Ewoks and it is a love for all things Star Wars that has stuck with me my whole life. You can imagine then that I am quite excited to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I admit without any shame that I teared up when I saw Han and Chewie back again in the first trailer. I am 99% certain that I might cry during the actual movie. Not because it is sad, but because I have been waiting for so long to see this. To finally see a Star Wars movie on the big screen.
I was disappointed in the prequels, and by disappointed, I mean I hated them. That first one, ugh. The middle one I have never seen the whole movie (and maybe one day I will rectify that) and the third one, the best part is the last 15 minutes!
Regardless of all this, I remember being a kid and getting Star Wars action figures to play with. It was the 80’s so I got the “girl” toys and my brother got the “boy” toys, aka, the cooler ones. I remember having every single Princess Leia imaginable and one random Boba Fett (why the Fett parents? Why?) while my brother had all the characters along with the Millennium Falcon. We would combine our toy forces and play together so I got to be the “boy” characters every once in awhile.
As a kid, when I played Star Wars with my brother or friends, there weren’t a lot of characters open to me, or at least I didn’t think there were, because this was the ’80s—girls were supposed to play girl characters, and boys were supposed to play boy characters. ~The Mary Sue
The thing was, yeah, I liked Princess Leia. She was brave, beautiful and outspoken. She kicked butt right next to the guys and didn’t get all girly and stupid. But the character I really liked? Han Solo. That dude was a bad ass! He did what he wanted and most of the time he did the right thing. He clearly had a history of doing bad things but now he was a good guy, awesome!
I’ve always had a history of identifying with the anti-hero or even the villain in films. When I first saw the Tim Burton Batman, I loved the Joker more than I did Batman! I thought Batman was a big old stick in the mud whereas the Joker had fun … Sure, he killed some people, but … Yeah, there’s no way to justify that so I’ll just continue on.
A short while ago I came across an article about how other women identified with Han Solo, not in a sexy way, but in a way where she wanted to be him. I dug it. It made sense to me. Of course, Harrison Ford is super sexy, there is no denying that, but when I was a kid, it wasn’t about his pretty face and roguish grin, it was about his ability to fight and be brave while also being just a little bit bad. It seemed super cool to me. It also seemed kind of like the wrong way to think, so I kept it to myself. It’s only now that I’m older that I fully understand that these feelings are good, they’re okay, they’re totally normal and that a lot of young girls and women have them. You cannot help what character in a story you identify with and feeling shameful of that is a product of a society that still has “girl” toys and “boy” toys along with “proper” gender roles. The fact is, be proud of yourself, be proud of what character you like the most and never, ever feel ashamed of who you truly are.
[I]t seems so simple: you should be able to be whoever you want, no matter your gender, race, or your sexuality. You can be drawn to a character without being limited by a crush on him or her. ~The Mary Sue
Now, as an adult and a writer I realize that my female characters are very often variations and versions of Han Solo. They’re all brave, they’re all ready to fight if need be and many of them have mysterious pasts. One of my favorite characters, Magenta from “The Last Daughter Of Lilith,” is the perfect example of that. She is scarred up both emotionally and physically, you know she’s been through a lot of bad stuff and she’s come out on the other side of it rough and tough. Maybe she doesn’t have a roguish grin and a lot of witty quips but I know that before all the really and stuff went down, she did have a grin and some witticisms. Time has changed her, matured her, made her tougher, sadder and braver.
It’s funny to be 37 and now just realizing how much of an influence Star Wars had on my creative side. Even Princess Leia gets in there, that same kind of toughness comes through in my characters. In my personality. Princess L taught me not to take any crap and even though it took me a long time to learn that and actually enact it, learn it I did. I think my beloved Star Wars characters were the foundation of the creative world I began to create. My female characters don’t need a man to complete them, sure romance happened, but it wasn’t the piece that makes them who they are. Other events, tragedies, life in general, created them, their ways and their attitudes. It’s only now that I realize that those movies I watched as a kid, Star Wars, Star Trek, Supergirl, Labyrinth all had something in common…strong, brave and imperfect characters that are both male and female.
For so many, Star Wars is more than just a sci-fi epic, it’s a lifestyle. It amazes me to this day how many of us will troop out to theater’s to witness the adventures of our favorite characters, to see how they’ve fared during these intervening years (where the heck is Luke?). Sure, they’re older, but we have to hope they’re also wiser while also being as brave and fun as they once were. I, for one, will be there this weekend and will report back.
What Han taught me is that you can be attracted to people and characters in many different ways. There will always be characters you can relate to and they can always tell you things about yourself to help you on your journey. You just have to listen. ~The Mary Sue
What about you? How did Star Wars influence you? Who’s the character that really spoke to you? Tell me about it in the comments!