Currently causing consternation: The omission of female Rey from a Star Wars gift set being sold at Target, which has spawned the hashtag #WheresRey. Itâ€™s the latest in a long line of complaints about the franchise forgetting women are fans, too. A really long line.
Legion of Leia wrote up the absence of Rey from a toy set that included some rando Stormtrooper, instead. Admittedly, the set is exclusive to Target, and in fact Rey has been prominently featured in the merch offerings thus far. Sheâ€™s even fully dressed!
But you have to read this particular dust-up in the context of the dust-ups thatâ€™ve gone before. For instance: Last year, a mom tipped us off that â€œSlave Leiaâ€ was the only Leia she could find a Toys R Us. It was also noted that two years after Disney had acquired Lucasfilm, Disney stores didnâ€™t have any Leia dolls or Star Wars toys billed as being â€œfor girls,â€ unleashing a vocal wave of annoyance.
Social media is making it easier to air these frustrations, but theyâ€™re not new, either. Witness this letter to the editor from a 1983 edition of Prescott, Arizonaâ€™s The Courier. â€œThe shelves are full of Strawberry Shortcake, Tinkerbell cosmetics and Care Bears,â€ says this irritated shopper. â€œHow about moving them over a little and making room for Princess Leia?â€
Itâ€™s a complaint that crops up regularly, in other words, because girls have always loved this franchise. (Thanks in no small part to Carrie Fisherâ€™s portrayal of Leia as somebody who has no time for your bullshit.) Star Wars was one of the ways I bonded with one of my oldest female friends. Even for a cynical asshole blogger, itâ€™s been exciting to watch the trailers for the new installments and see Rey featured so prominently alongside a still-powerful Leia. This is anecdata, sure, but the point is that itâ€™s annoying to see Star Wars treated like a boysâ€™ club. Theyâ€™re taking steps like including Rey and (according to reports) getting rid of the infamous â€œSlave Leiaâ€ toys. But itâ€™ll take years of getting it right before fans even consider cutting Hasbro, Disney, and other corporations any slack, because theyâ€™re working through years of irritation.
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Photo screencap via The Courier, Google Newspaper Archive. Princess Leia via Toys R Us.