Disney’s handling of the Star Wars franchise is the most controversial thing since … George Lucas’ handling of the same franchise. While the plots of the Disney–Star Wars film have received mixed reviews, Carrie Fisher had criticisms of the way Disney has chosen to merchandise Princess Leia.
A controversial ‘Star Wars’ moment
One of the more ambiguous plot points in Star Wars comes from Return of the Jedi. In it, Jabba the Hutt degrades Leia by forcing her to wear a bikini and chaining her to himself. Furthermore, he sexualizes her by trying to lick her with his enormous tongue. Later, in an ironic twist of fate, Leia uses the same chain that Jabba used to bind her to kill her tormentor.
Is this a sequence of grotesque sexualization or female empowerment — or both? It’s up for viewers to decide — but Leia’s outfit remains controversial decades after Return of the Jedi’s first release.
Unlike most other Star Wars characters, Princess Leia is a style icon. The bikini she donned in Return of the Jedi remains one of her most iconic looks. Slate reports many female cosplayers like to wear Leia’s bikini. It’s been worn by everyone from Amy Schumer to Lois Griffin from Family Guy. Regardless, Disney stopped making merchandise featuring Leia in her bikini.
Carrie Fisher’s reaction to concerned parents
According to Insider, Disney’s decision came in the wake of a Fox News story where a father said he didn’t know how to “explain” a toy of Leia in her bikini to his children. Specifically, he had a difficult time explaining why there was a chain around Leia’s neck. Fisher did not like the idea of getting rid of such toys, calling it “stupid.” She had her own idea for what parents could say if they felt the need to explain toys depicting Leia in her bikini to their kids.
“Tell them that a giant slug captured me and forced me to wear that stupid outfit, and then I killed him because I didn’t like it,” she said, according to Insider. “And then I took it off. Backstage.”
A similar Disney controversy with Princess Jasmine
Disney’s decision is part of an overall trend for the company. In 2016, The Washington Times reported Disney received complaints over Princess Jasmine’s exposed belly. In response, actresses playing Jasmine at Disney cruises and theme parks would wear modest clothing.
Jasmine’s new outfit stands in contrast to the revealing outfit she wore in the animated film Aladdin and its associated television series. In a similar vein, Naomi Scott wore modest clothes when she played Jasmine in the 2019 remake of Aladdin.
Are these changes Disney has made prudish or feminist? It’s up for fans to decide. Fans will also have to decide how much stock they put in Fisher’s words.
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