The Star Wars franchise has been celebrated and picked apart in quite an array of ways over the years, but a new fan-made study puts the films in a new point of view.
Becca Harrison, an author and scholar from Glasgow, recently ranked the entire Star Wars franchise (outside of Solo: A Star Wars Story) in terms of percentage of female representation. According to her findings, which you can check out a tweet of below, Star Wars: The Last Jedi places highest on the list with 43%, while Star Wars: A New Hope falls dead last with 15%.
I have FINALLY ranked all of #StarWars based on screen time for women. This is now canon. Don't @ me.
43% Last Jedi— Becca Harrison (@BeccaEHarrison) May 28, 2018
37% Force Awakens
35% Rogue One
23% Return of the Jedi
22% Empire Strikes Back
20% Phantom Menace
18% Attack of the Clones
17% Revenge of the Sith
15% A New Hope
As Harrison explained in a subsequent blog post, the way that she approached the project took some interesting twists and turns. Harrison actually edited out all of the male characters in the film, but with some specific specifications.
"In my definition of ‘screen time’ for women I’ve tried to be as consistent as possible, although this is often challenging." Harrison writes in her blog. "I’ve only counted women with speaking parts because having the ability to say something and contribute to the story, and not serving as a visual object, is important. However, if a woman with a speaking part is onscreen and not speaking, and neither is a man, I’ve kept the footage. Consequently, you get a lot of reaction shots of Leia or Jyn not doing much but being the only character in the frame. When men are speaking and a woman is onscreen, I’ve made a value judgement about whether she’s central to the action (or not) at that moment in the story. Sadly, especially in Padme’s case, she’s quite often just kind of ‘there’. She really does get a rough deal."
As Harrison went on to explain, the goal was to start a conversation about the nature of female representation in the Star Wars franchise, and how it can improve even more.
"While women’s screen time improves as the number of women’s speaking parts goes up, the films don’t necessarily get better over time—see the prequels—and even the sequels and spin-offs barely pass the Bechdel test because women characters often inhabit the screen with men." Harrison continues. "The notion that women can have meaningful conversations with one another about something other than male characters is most apparent in The Last Jedi… but you can still count these exchanges on one hand."
This notion of The Last Jedi's female representation - which has been met by quite a lot of both praise and disdain online - is particularly interesting. Even as the film was met with backlash and "men only" cuts, it sounds like those at Lucasfilm aren't particularly phased.
“Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars,” J.J. Abrams explained in a recent interview. “If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars. You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”7comments
What do you think of this Star Wars study? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now.