In case you live in a little hut on Tatooine without access to the Internet (and you’re somehow reading this anyway), the teaser trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released today. Naturally, everyone went crazy for it. In all conceivable ways.
But as much of the insanity was focused on the existence of the trailer itself—and Felicity Jones looks straight-up badass as Jyn Erso, even if some of the dialogue is a little cheesy—even more of it was focused on the fact that the film has a female lead.
It seems as though a few bros on the Internet decided that one female protagonist, aka Rey in The Force Awakens, is enough for the new slate of films.
That last one especially … yikes.
As you'd expect, these bros were almost instantaneously overwhelmed by a much larger wave of feminist, progressive, and all-around non-douchy responses.
You’ll have to trust us on this, but there were a LOT more responses to the misogynistic tweets than there were actual misogynistic tweets. We scoured Twitter and Facebook and YouTube for evidence that the anti-female protagonist backlash was as large as it seemed, but we could scarcely find any of said backlash at all. It certainly exists, as we’ve shown you above … but holy hell, the internet’s response crushed it to a pulp almost immediately.
At some point, we have to wonder how many of the people commenting on how the “bros” and “men” need to STFU really even saw those bros’ comments. It seems to us this is an example of a snowball effect, where people see something secondhand about misogynistic comments and take that as license to pile on, or the issue is made to look bigger and more vitriolic than it is.
Now, to be clear, we are thrilled that there is another female-fronted film in this new Star Wars universe—especially with future anthology films centering on the male characters Han Solo and Boba Fett, and especially with the hard evidence that females are underrepresented in Hollywood. Hell, some people have pointed out that even in the teaser, Rogue One actually passes the Bechdel test already, as Jyn and Mon Mothma (who looks amazingly cast) discuss the Death Star and not some silly boy. This is excellent news for the film industry as a whole. And the fact that some people aren’t okay with that is really shitty, and we understand the righteous anger that’s driving the current Twitter and Facebook avalanche.
But it’s hard for us to see how such overwhelming blowback against misogyny—without any evidence that the misogyny has been particularly widespread, and without any sort of attempt to turn the online forum into a space for constructive dialogue—is really addressing the underlying problem, which is that misogyny exists in the first place. And such a response might actually be counterproductive in that it’s both making the misogynists feel oppressed (a bizarre and perverse concept, to be sure, but stand in their shoes and you can understand their subjective, if incorrect, feeling of persecution) and simultaneously exacerbating the very fatigue with gender-based social justice activists that drove their knee-jerk negative reaction to Jyn in the first place.
There’s a Ph. D. dissertation to be written somewhere in here, probably in psychology or sociology, about how social media reaction to microaggressions affects said microaggressive and macroaggresive behavior. We’ll try to have that done for you by the time the film comes out in December. But for the time being, let’s just exult in the fact that a woman named Felicity Jones looks like she’s going to kick some major Empire tail in Rogue One, and then channel our anti-misogynist thoughts into actionable plans that might help solve the problem.