I was skimming twitter during a break yesterday and saw a string great tweets:
I, being a smart aleck, had to butt in with, “This (queer) nerd boy would buy every Slave Poe action figure I could find! Oops… Did I say that out loud?”
The problem with even well-meaning smart asses throwing in such jokes is that our comments can undermine the serious point that Vivian was originally trying to make about double standards and the male gaze, with some commentary on the small wave of nerd rage that happened when an official Star Wars tie-in novel featured a gay protagonist earlier this year, and similar splash of nerd rage that happened when the trailer came out showing a Stormtrooper pulling off his helmet and revealing black actor under the mask.
So, to be clear: back in Return of the Jedi when they put Leia in that slave costume on a leash when she was taken prisoner by Jabba the Hutt it was a sexist action intended as fan service, and entirely unlike the way any of the three male heroes also taken prisoner in that same sequence were treated. And it made very little sense, internally. Seriously, Jabba is a giant slug, he’s not human, and it makes no sense for an alien (particularly a non-humanoid alien) to find any human body erotically attractive. I’ve seriously seen some clueless fans argue because another alien woman was shown in a similar role in an early scene (when she refuses Jabba’s advances, she’s thrown to the monster in the pit where the entire party takes great glee in watching her die), that this proves Jabba had some sort of fetish for the humanoid female form.
Jabba is fictional. Jabba didn’t make the decision to put either woman in a slave girl costume to be leered at. Human filmmakers made that decision. Male human filmmakers made that decision.
Just as when authors and show-runners claim that they would love to include queer characters, but the right story just hasn’t come to them are either deluding themselves or outright lying (they can make the decision which characters to include in their stories), filmmakers who claim that Slave Leia was because of Jabba’s kinks are simply shoveling BS.
If Jabba had a kink for naked humanoids, there’s no reason it should have been limited to female humanoids.
So if the idea of Luke being the prisoner in a scanty slave costume after Jabba catches him upsets you—if you find yourself constructing arguments that it would be inappropriate because Return of the Jedi wasn’t a gay porn film, and that it’s just not the same as putting Leia in a scanty outfit—you’ve just stumbled across a great big internalized misogynist double-standard. Congratulations!
For the record, when I was 22 years old sitting in that dark theatre after waiting in line for 10 hours to see Return of the Jedi and the first scene with the other alien woman on a leash in a scanty costume appeared on the screen, my first thoughts were, “Why would Jabba put a woman from another species in that costume? Why would whatever species she is fetishize barely concealed breasts just because humans do?” Not that I was necessarily that enlightened back then. I recognize that even as a deeply closeted queer guy, I didn’t see the costume the same way 90-some percent of the other guys in that crowded theatre were. But that’s the thing, without hormones clouding my vision, I could see the incongruity for what it was.
So I hope my comment didn’t detract from the message of the original tweet. Besides, I wasn’t joking. I’ve already said publicly that I am searching for the Finn and Poe Honeymoon Suite Playset, among other things. When a friend pointed out that there was a place taking orders for a Poe Dameron body pillow I have to admit I felt immediate temptation. If there is a Slave Poe scene in one of the sequels, and if they made action figures of him in that costume, I’d buy it so fast!