The cultural phenomenon that Star Wars became needs no introduction. Since Episode IV: A New Hope came out in 1977, the film series and its accompanying television series have acquired mass amounts of a diverse array of fans all over the world. There is something for everyone in the Star Wars universe.
From 1977 through 2019, the main nine films of the series were released via the original, prequel and sequel trilogies. For a long time, there was debate among fans over whether the original trilogy or the prequel trilogy was the best, but the introduction of the sequel trilogy in 2015 brought in an entirely different discussion.
Episode VII: The Force Awakens introduces a group of new characters that eventually find themselves connected with the beloved original trio, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Leia Organa. This new cast includes Daisy Ridley as Rey, John Boyega as Finn and Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, making the series main characters’ a woman, Black man and Latino man. It was a more diverse cast than the series had seen before, giving many fans even more reason to celebrate the new trilogy.
It wasn’t until after the last film of the sequel trilogy, Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker was released that I really started to pay attention to online discussion about the series. It was then that I found that there are people who have a borderline hate for the sequel trilogy and that a lot of it centered around Rey.
For simplicity purposes, I think it is fair to say that Rey is the equivalent to Luke and Anakin Skywalker. The choice to have such a strong, independent and headstrong female main character was a bold choice for 1977 but Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of Leia Organa helped pave the way for other badass female characters to have their time in the spotlight. Having a character that was a princess, rebel and general who didn’t need to be saved by a man all the time because she could take care of herself while also having a romantic storyline arguably makes her one of the greatest– and my personal favorite– female characters of all time.
The continuation of this type of female character via Natalie Portman’s portrayal of queen, senator and rebel Padmé Amidala in the prequels makes it feel like there was a natural progression to not only have another female main character, but have a female character as the lead. However, others disagree with that sentiment.
A lot of the Star Wars fanbase is male and while I’m sure some of them do have genuine criticisms, most seem to not like her for misogynistic reasons. Whether or not they are aware of their misogyny or it is internalized, Luke and Anakin Skywalker do not receive nearly as much hate as Rey does. I have witnessed genuine, thoughtful discussions about the flaws and actions of male characters from the films in person and online while discussions about Rey and other female characters are dismissive and simplify them to being “annoying” or “too powerful,” for example.
There is a lot to be changed about how female leads are treated as they continue to become more commonplace. For every negative comment, there is a positive one from someone who is so grateful to see someone that looks like them on the big screen, but in order for women to be truly treated equally, there needs to be a change in conversation amongst men who don’t like to see women succeed.
Tate Raub is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Tate know by tweeting her @tatertot1310.