I have to admit, when I was younger, I always hated Princess Leia (I knew nothing of Carrie Fisher, the person, until decades later so for me, at the outset, there was only Leia).Â Perhaps not the most popular idea right now, when so many women are coming out and citing her as their inspiration, their role model, the quintessential “non-princess”. Â As her character evolved (and I grew older), my opinions of that character certainly changed for the better (particularly when she took out Jabba the Hut), but for a very long time the idea of Leia was tainted by how she was translated into real-life.
Post the release of Star Wars, this was the only subjectÂ on which all the kids in the neighborhoodÂ could agree to play. Â Every group game became Star Wars, no more Cowboys and Indians, no more Firefighters and Forest fires, which was AWESOME for a while. Â Everyone on the block had seen the movie (some had actually seen it TWICE, which was almost unheard of) so we all had a common world to build on.
Except for that annoying “Princess” thing.
In practical application, Leia got categorized with every other Princess (note the Capital “P”). Nobody remembered that she was the only one other than Han who could shoot straight. Â Nobody remembered that she had kept her secrets under torture, that she was the one who stepped up to lead when Han and Luke’s half-baked rescue plan unraveled. Â She had Princess in her name and that meant one thing only.
Whomever played her had to sit on the sidelines and wait until someone bothered with a rescue.
So for a very very long time, I HATED Princess Leia and would simply bow out of any game that involved her. Â There was never a win to be had, I had toÂ be Leia because I was the girl. Â Fortunately, the boys in the neighborhood took the hint and we eventually agreed on an “invisible” Princess who would wait and do all the boring things until the game came back around to rescue-time (yeah, okay that may not have been a “better” solution per-se, but we were little and it solved the immediate problem).
I feel that a lot of people forget where the world was back in the 70’s when this film was first released. Â That girls were still supposed to be “girly” and boys were supposed to be “heroes in training”. Â The value (to me) in the Star Wars franchise, is not that they provided a strong female character to identify with in science fiction, because at the outset they didn’t, not in real concrete terms. Â Instead over time that character evolved. Â The writers and showrunners learned and grew and took a character that was supposed to be a slightly more exciting Girl in a Tower and turned her into force to be reckoned with.