Kathleen Kennedy: A New Hope for Women in Film

    From Indiana Jones, to The Force Awakens film producer and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has been involved in just about every blockbuster of the past thirty-five years. She’s one of the biggest names in Hollywood and she’s making some tremors in the force.

    Recently in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Ms Kennedy revealed that the creative team behind Lucasfilm is fifty percent women now.

    “When you have a balance of men and women, there are all sorts of things that enter into the discussion,” Kennedy said in the interview.

    This is exciting news, not only are creative women getting more roles in filmmaking, but a more accurate representation of women characters can be crafted.

    “Because women are always in story meetings, [no one has] to go, ‘Hey, what would a woman think?’ ”  creative executive Rayne Roberts said in the same interview. “The reason Rey is strong and technically capable and compassionate and driven is that the women who were in that room, including Kathy, reflect those qualities.” Jones added, “Kathy has given women the kind of roles they’ve always dreamed of.”

    The changes behind the camera have definitely benefited the Star Wars franchise in terms of character development and overall storytelling. Needless to say however, it’s been a bit of a fight to get where cinema is today concerning female led films.

    Star Wars is one of the latest franchises to hop on board this trend, as both The Force Awakens and now the recently released Rogue One both star strong female leads, something that Ms. Kennedy was very keen to bring to Star Wars, as well as a strong sense of diversity. For the most part this move has had nothing but positive results, having characters like Rey and the new Jyn Erso has made the franchise more approachable than ever (and in my opinion) this new approachability has been what’s made the franchise more popular today than it’s been in years. However, not everyone has been happy about this change in status quo.

    There are claims about how this new dynamic is nothing but feminist propaganda and is doing nothing but shoving agendas down people’s throats.

    YouTube channels like the highly conservative “Rebel Media” won’t shut up about this and believe that these decisions made by Ms. Kennedy are going to accomplish nothing but ruin the franchise.  

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    A couple weeks ago Kathleen Kennedy, Lucasfilm President, spoke to the New York Times about this radical controversy boldly stating she feels no obligation to appeal to the male fans of Star Wars when it comes to casting the leads.

    “I have a responsibility to the company I work with, I don’t feel I have a responsibility to cater in some way.” Kennedy said in the interview, adding “I would never sieze on saying something like ‘Well this is a series that’s appealed primarily to men for many, many years, and therefore I owe men something.’”

    Since there’s more than a few claims that these new character choices are nothing but agenda based and “preachy” let’s talk about forced narratives and agendas and what they really look like.

    As a writer and filmmaker there’s nothing I dislike more than when someone uses a story as masked propaganda. Preachy films do nothing but weaken the film creating two dimensional characters and plots and as a result I end up hating whatever cause the film fights for, for the two hours it’s on screen, even if I believe in it.

    Agenda based films sacrifice story and character development for the cause they fight for. A perfect example of this is the movie Tomorrowland, because the film was so concerned with making a movie about imagination and ingenuity, we ended up with a very two dimensional look at the North American education system and an annoying, and perfect protagonist.

    This isn’t the case in The Force Awakens, or in Rogue One.

    In both of their respective films, Jyn and Rey being women is never brought up once. These aren’t stories about women fighting a patriarchal system and overcome obstacles through the power of femininity, they’re stories of flawed heroes who rise to the call and fight against evil empires, of family lineage and destiny.

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    The push for more women led films and the larger representation of diversity that Ms. Kennedy is charging, isn’t a way to sell an agenda, she’s finding ways to keep Star Wars fresh, giving us characters with perspectives and histories we haven’t had before in these films. The focus of the story isn’t on the protagonist’s gender, but at the same time Rey is going to handle situations different than Luke and make different choices based off of who she is.

    Not to mention the impact it will have on young girls who watch these movies.

    There’s a certain stereotype that girls don’t like Star Wars. Besides being as far from the truth as you can get, maybe the reason Star Wars is seen to be something that’s  “for boys” is because it’s been primarily marketed towards boys. What would happen if we changed the game? Characters like Rey and now Jyn offer that same kind of role model many of us found in Luke Skywalker and Han Solo.

    If a film franchise like Star Wars can continue to give us fresh characters and quality stories the pushes that Ms. Kennedy has made won’t just influence the rest of the beloved space opera, but the rest of Hollywood as well and that’s very exciting.

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    • While a great many would see him as a hero, there are some that would prefer the term vigilante. Gregory is an aspiring filmmaker who loves writing, directing, coffee and long walks on the beach.

    • Show Comments

    • Lyndall Cave

      There’s a stereotype that girls don’t like Star Wars?
      I was obsessed with it as a kid. Obi-Wan was my hero. I read as many Jedi Apprentice books as I could get my hands on. I had bamboo-stake lightsaber duels with my sisters and friends (mostly girls) in the front yard. I and my sisters were thrilled to get the Millennium Falcon and X-Wing Lego sets for Christmas. And to this day, I LOVE Star Wars.

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