Why ‘The Last Jedi’ Might Be Making A Difference For Girls [Opinion]

Stuart C. WilsonGetty Images

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is scoring big reviews with many critics, although according to Rotten Tomatoes (and several groups of internet trolls, probably), the movie is not quite as good as the critics are saying. So far, The Last Jedi is scoring a whopping 90 percent with critics, according to Rotten Tomatoes, while audiences are only sitting at around 50 percent satisfied with the latest Star Wars outing. One demographic where the film, and The Force Awakens, could be getting some positive attention is with young females.

Of course, I have only my own two young females to go by. They are 8 and 13, respectively, and both embraced The Last Jedi like a member of the family they had missed and finally had the chance to visit. We were discussing The Last Jedi and the backlash that is currently ongoing via a range of channels, whether it is Twitter, Facebook, or otherwise. At any rate, I had read a blog post called “Why So Many Men Hate The Last Jedi But Can’t Agree On Why” by Melissa Hillman, who goes by the pseudonym of Bitter Gertrude. In short, the article discusses the varying reasons why The Last Jedi has been lambasted by some, and I was discussing the article with my oldest daughter. As I explained the author was discussing the issues some saw with the film, my oldest smiled and said, “It’s the feminism in it, isn’t it?”

For many years, movies — and particularly Star Wars — have fallen into the categories of love or hate. There’s never been any significant reason why that I’ve really taken the time to explore as far as my feelings about a film goes, but it was when my oldest made the comment about the feminism in the movie that it hit me.

The Last Jedi
Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey in 'The Last Jedi', has a laugh during the London, England photocall.Featured image credit: Stuart C. WilsonGetty Images

The Last Jedi is an unconventional film as far as Star Wars movies go, and it is because many of the tried-and-true tropes that films have relied on for years blow up before your eyes. There are a few women in positions of power, or at the very least, unconventional roles. Certainly, there is Rey (Daisy Ridley), who is probably one of the fiercest female lead characters outside of Princess — excuse me, General — Leia that Star Wars has seen in a good long while. Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) is edgy, yet beautiful, and maintenance worker Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) has a chance to be not only a hero, but a warrior in the truest sense of the term, all the while not conforming to conventional notions of beauty. Then, of course, there is General Leia Organa, portrayed by the incomparable Carrie Fisher. She is far more blunt than Admiral Holdo, because she can afford to be, but she is also smack in the middle of the action as she always was.

These are the sorts of female role models in adventure movies like Star Wars and most particularly The Last Jedi that my girls, and hopefully others, can connect with. They do not need a man to come to the rescue, and in fact, are seen as equals to them. Rose Tico’s sister, Paige, flies a bomber at the very start of the film, and there are several female fighter pilots who join Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron in the heat of any battle. These are women who are respected and valued, and that is the sort of message from The Last Jedi that I want my girls to take away.