It’s confirmed! Carrie Fisher will be reprising her role as Princess Leia Amidala Organa in the new Star Wars film! Biggest squee EVAH!
So yesterday, I got all pissy about Princess Culture™ and today (hypocrite) I’m going to talk about how this Princess has the narrative right and why she is just so fucking awesome! Yes, you can be a Princess! As long as you’re THIS Princess!
True story: Mr. JB and I met at grad school, where we were both enrolled in the MBA program.
He had quite literally, 24 hours before we met, gotten off a plane from Japan, where he had been working as an Environmental Analyst for a big engineering firm, and I had just left my busy career as a barista, which is pretty much the only thing I was qualified to do after watching movies for four years and earning a Film Theory degree.
As an ice-breaker exercise, our whole class was playing a multinational financing game, in which several pretend companies had to negotiate with the Presidents of various countries to build a manufacturing facility. The company that got the best deal would “win” the simulation.
I was the CFO for one of the companies, and Mr. JB was the President of Argentina. As the President, he demanded that all the companies produce statements of available cash – he wasn’t talking to anyone until he saw how much money the potential manufacturers actually had.
Unfortunately, our company had very little actual cash, and since financial statements are such a huge part of a film theory degree, I got busy adjusting ours to look a little better. Deferred taxes? Oh, I’ll just move that over to the cash column. Future dividends? Nah, we don’t need to pay no dividends! Put that in cash, too. Payroll? How ridiculous! I put that in the available cash column, too.
Hey, we looked pretty good after I was done doctoring our statements.
Off I went to meet the President of Argentina. I swear he looked at our statement for about two seconds and saw exactly what I had done. I was part of a five member delegation, but since I was the CFO, he addressed me specifically. Also, I was really fucking hot, so of course he would talk to me and ignore the others.
He said something like this:
Why are you wasting my time with this bullshit? Do you think I’m stupid? You expect me to negotiate in good faith with a liar? Get out of this room and don’t come back until you have something more than complete garbage to show me. If you’re going to fabricate your statements, at least demonstrate one iota of intelligence while doing so.
He really laid it on thick, too. My team consisted of mostly foreigners who spoke English as a second language, and they were not certain what to make of Mr. JB’s animosity. The Chinese student was downright terrified. But he didn’t scare me.
I responded to him with this:
Fabricate my statements? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a member of the Imperial Senate on a diplomatic mission on Alderaan.
He got right in my face.
You’re part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor! Take her away!
My fellow teammates had no idea what to make of Mr.JB basically shouting in my face and were utterly perplexed when we collapsed into laughter. It was totally the best exchange ever, and they thought we were nuts!
I was obviously totally smitten. He quoted Darth Vader. Swoon!
We still use those lines on each other. What is this charge on the Visa at the book store? I don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m a member of the Imperial Senate….
Back to Princess Leia. Leia is an incredible example of what it means to a Princess because she does one thing: she COMPLEMENTS the men in her life. She does not COMPETE with them. Leia will pick up a blaster, slide down a garbage chute, organize the rebel defences, transport the Death Star specs, endure torture, join in the assault on the shield generator on Endor and chase after Stormtroopers on a speederbike. She is strong, capable, confident and she doesn’t sit around waiting to be rescued (except when she’s confined to a cell after being tortured).
She fully expects to be part of the action and isn’t afraid to jump in. And she’s a right little smart ass, too!
The Princess narrative that I hate so much is the one that says: you are a Princess simply by virtue of your birth. You deserve happiness and love and adoration and you are entitled to every wonderful thing in life and you do not have to make any special effort to make your dreams come true. Your Prince will do that. You just sit here on your ass and wait.
Disney Princesses have something to trade for their expectations: they are beautiful and kind and generous and sweet and loving and utterly feminine, and you know, fair enough. That’s a reasonable trade if you ask me.
The modern Princess narrative dispatches with the requirement that Princesses have some attractive qualities to trade for the Prince’s love, though. Modern Princesses want all the privileges of being royal but none of the costs. They still want to the Prince to pick up the bill for dinner, propose marriage and buy them a giant diamond ring, but they don’t want to pay for that by managing their weight or being pleasant or acting grateful.
Nope. Not a chance. Modern Princesses still want their Prince to come charging to their rescue in shining armor, after a day spent crushing his balls in the office. Good deal for the Prince, no? Oh, and if he’s not QUITE compliant enough, the Princess won’t hesitate to pull out her strap-on and teach him a little thoughtfulness.
Where have all the good men gone? Gee, I wonder.
Let’s take a closer look at Leia, who is a real Princess. Her interest is not in status or her own personal wealth or well-being. She loves the scruffy-looking nerf-herder! Even though he irritates the shit out of her on occaision.
Lando Calrissian and his Cloud City and fancy cape don’t impress her much.
She is part of something much greater than herself and she demonstrates all the qualities of leadership within her own personal set of abilities. That’s the central reason why Leia is such a great role model. She knows her own limits and she is not interested in making some sort of ideological statement that flies in the face of reality: she wants to win, and sometimes the best way to get things done is to hand over the reins and take a back seat.
Leia doesn’t suit up and get in a snowspeeder to risk her life taking on AT-ATs on Hoth.
She lets her pilots do that.
She doesn’t strap herself into the cockpit of an X-Wing and take a run at the Death Star.
She lets her pilots do that.
She is emotionally stable in the face of great personal trauma. She doesn’t react with hysterics when she is injured on Endor, or when Han is lowered into the carbon freeze chamber. She thinks about him, and reassures him of her love. She sees and reacts as if Han’s feelings are more important than hers, and at that moment, they are.
Leia isn’t fazed when Jabba suits her up in a chain mail bikini and makes her a sex slave. She doesn’t crumple into a pile of goo and sign up for a year’s worth of therapy and a prescription for Prozac. She strangles the motherfucker.
It’s hard to imagine how Leia could be stronger or more capable, and yet, when she confronts Han, she recognizes that he is stronger than her, and she willingly accepts that and falls madly in love with him. She doesn’t give up any of her own strength when she loves Han. She just sees that he is more powerful than she is, and she loves him for that. She joins her strength to his. She complements him, in other words.
She doesn’t compete.
Leia has every virtue a woman should have: beauty, generosity, emotional stability, confidence, ability, courage, spunkiness, humility and grace. She is a Princess who walks beside her Prince, fighting alongside him, protecting him, calming him, nurturing him and always loving him. It’s not a calculated thing on her part, it’s just who she is. And in exchange for that, she has a Prince who walks alongside her, protecting her, shielding her, willing to risk everything, willing to die for her.
Put someone else’s happiness and feelings above your own. Work in service towards a goal that is bigger than just your own personal ambition and desire. Keep calm. Carry on. Know your own strengths. Don’t compete. Complement.
Be a Princess, by all means. Know that it comes with privileges and a price. Don’t be afraid to jump into a garbage chute, because as long as your Prince is with you and you listen to him, you’ll be okay. And when he says “I love you”, tell him, “I know”.
That is how you get your happily ever after.
Lots of love,