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The Fangirl Impact on Star Wars Celebration

The Fangirl Impact on Star Wars Celebration

Scott Murray's Star Wars Blog

Even though I didn’t get to see everything at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim, I was very pleased with what I saw, heard and experienced. I enjoyed being there as a fan and sharing the experience as part of my coverage for Assembly of Geeks.

Now that the convention is over, I’ve had a few moments to reflect on what I witnessed and reported. Obviously, major events like the new trailer for The Force Awakens and the Season 2 premiere of Star Wars Rebels easily stand out. However, there was also a certain theme that stood out for me:

The presence and plight of the Star Wars fangirl.

Now, I’m not someone who really needed to be convinced that females make up a very significant portion of Star Wars fandom (or geek culture in general). Yet, it was still pretty awesome to see so many of them in one place.

There were cosplayers of all ages dressing up as characters from the shows, the movies and the books.

I saw them wearing a variety of Star Wars shirts, leggings, jewelry, hats and other merch (which many of you know I can definitely appreciate).

I heard them scream and yell in excitement just as loud as the fanboys when big news was announced or exciting visuals were shown.

I talked to them about their fandom, and it was clear they knew their stuff and could easily discuss what Star Wars means to them.

To me, the rise of female fans has significance that rivals many of the other exciting developments in Star Wars. I say this because I know a time when their presence wasn’t so evident. I remember being in elementary school playing Star Wars on the playground with a bunch of guy friends, and we had a heck of a time finding a Star Wars fangirl to play Princess Leia.

This brings me to my next point.

The limitation of characters that girls can be or even relate to was a topic that came up more than once at this convention. It all started with Kathleen Kennedy being asked what type of character she would want to be in the Star Wars Universe.

Kathleen Kennedy

She said in the past there was only ONE option…but that was going to change. That comment was followed by a loud cheer of female fans that helped fill a large arena at the opening ceremonies.

Later, I interviewed Star Wars book narrator January LaVoy who echoed those sentiments and spoke of how she hoped there was now going to be new opportunities for her to voice more female characters.

January+Lavoy+03

January Lavoy

She, by the way, is the first woman to narrate a Star Wars novel, and she’s had to voice her share of male characters.

Those of us who’ve had the privilege of getting plenty of characters to choose from over the years might find it too easy to ask, “What’s the big deal?” when it comes to the demand for more female characters.

I would just ask you to put yourself in their shoes and reverse the experience. What if the stores you loved for years (maybe decades) only gave you an option or two for the longest time? How passionate and loud would you be about getting more options after learning your beloved Star Wars was making several more movies, books and TV episodes?

My guess is…pretty passionate and pretty loud. Okay, very passionate and very loud.

Rey & BB8

Rey & BB-8

We could certainly use more Leias, Padmes, Mara Jades, and Reys. Heck, I have a badass female Jedi on Star Wars: The Old Republic, and I would love to see her come to life!

Gender issues aside, there’s another very significant point to be made here. This year’s Star Wars Celebration had more fans attend than ever before – and Disney/Lucasfilm noticed that. Take out the female fans, and it’s not that big of a convention.

The growth of the fandom is just as important as anything else if we’re going to continue to get more and more Star Wars.

When I think about all of the men and women, boys and girls that were at that convention smiling, taking photos, waiting in lines, screaming and crying for joy…I think it’s safe to say THAT is something we ALL want.

Contact Scott at Scott@AssemblyofGeeks.com.

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4 Comments

  1. Erica
    April 24, 2015 at 16:47 Reply

    As a fangirl myself it is wonderful to see people beginning to understand the importance of the female presence both onscreen and in the audience. Thanks for your blog!

  2. Scott Murray
    April 27, 2015 at 20:35 Reply

    You bet, Erica! It was definitely a big takeaway from the convention. Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  3. Melinda
    May 6, 2015 at 08:33 Reply

    Being a fan of action films — and being of the female persuasion 😉 — I certainly can attest to the fact that it’s a bit disconcerting that Hollywood has not seen females in the role of heroine (and I mean THE person who saves the day) or at least as an integral part of a team who fights for justice (I’m talking generally speaking here. I know there are exceptions — Star Wars leading the list. 🙂 ). I think it has to do with the fact that, historically, most Hollywood writers have been male. It’s only customary to write about what one knows and with what one identifies. At its basic level, I really can’t fault the writers for approaching their jobs in this way.

    That being said, I never really let the lack of strong female characters in films/television shows stop me from seeing a film or show — as long as it’s good. And I certainly have not let the lack of strong female characters stop me from pursuing careers in very male-dominated fields. (I’ll point out here that my favorite Star Wars character always has been a male — Luke Skywalker. Why? Because he is the SW character with whom I most closely have identified. I have enjoyed watching him grow, mature, expand his approach to life, etc. I see a great many parallels [that include the EU/Infinities, etc. lines]. 🙂 )

    One thought that just popped into my head (generally speaking), Scott, is the fact that Hollywood truly has underestimated men. That is a sad commentary. I am thinking of my husband and many of our male friends and (adult) family members. They ENJOY going to what is deemed a “girl’s movie”. And it doesn’t take a wife or girlfriend dragging them to those films! If a story is well-told, if the plot is strong and logical, if the actors/actresses do a top-notch job portraying their characters — that is what my husband and other men we know care about when they go to see a movie. It doesn’t matter if it’s a serious drama or a side-splitting comedy. Give an audience a strong story, and the audiences will arrive. (Well, sometimes a really good movie doesn’t get enough press/hype, and falls under the radar. That’s a story for another time, however. 😉 )

    I never really thought there was a “plight” to being a Star Wars fangirl. There are a lot more female characters in the Saga than Padme and Leia. They’re just the most prevalent ones. Although I was unable to attend CVII, I have been to Cs I, III, IV, V and VI, and I’ll tell you this — there ALWAYS have been a great many attendees of the female persuasion at them. Like all really good films, it’s about the STORY that draws fans to Star Wars, both male and female. Without the story that resonates with so many people, there wouldn’t be the devotion to the franchise that there is. 🙂

    Excellent blog, Scott! I hope you had a wonderful time at CVII! 🙂 MTFBWY 🙂

  4. TWG Roundup, Part II: Fan Creations, Interviews, and More! | The Wookiee Gunner
    June 30, 2015 at 17:25 Reply

    […] The Fangirl Impact on Star Wars Celebration by Scott Murray […]

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