Disney might be retiring ‘Slave Leia’ merchandise. Here’s why it should.
When it comes to remakes and reboots of classic films, it’s always good to stick to the original. Well, almost always. In one particular case, a so-called “iconic” outfit is actually incredibly problematic, and that’s why we’re so, so happy that Disney is allegedly phasing it out of the new Star Wars movies and merchandise. That’s right: “Slave Leia,” the highly controversial image depicted by Carrie Fisher in Return of the Jedi 32 years ago, will likely be phased out of the series, according to comic book artist J. Scott Campbell, who has worked on Marvel’s Star Wars titles.
Recently, Campbell responded in a series of Facebook comments on a post about the gold bikini by sci-fi author Blake Northcott, explaining that “Disney is already well on it’s way to wiping out the ‘slave’ outfit from any future products period.”
“You will NOT see and future merchandising featuring the slave outfit ever again. Trust me,” he wrote. “I’ve heard it from two sources. We can’t even draw Leia in a sexy pose at Marvel, let alone in that outfit! We also had a 3-D SL statue killed at a major manufacturer because there will no longer be any SL merchandise.” He has since deleted those comments and tweeted, “For the record, I didn’t say this with any authority, I simply mentioned it seemed to be the case.”
However, it’s got the rumor mill abuzz. After all, with all the controversy and backlash surrounding the outfit, it wouldn’t be surprising if there’s been a conversation in Disney HQ about this.
Aggie Guerard Rodgers, Return of the Jedi costume designer, told Mashable that the bikini was a “deliberate throwback” to Dejah Thoris, heroine of Princess of Mars, in the 1960s, and that “has roots in science fiction history and Art Deco design.” However, many Star Wars fans have also pointed out that the bikini focuses on the captivity alone. . . when Princess Leia ends up, you know, slaying Jabba the Hutt in that scene, as Carrie Fisher herself has pointed out:
Yes, it can be considered feminist that Leia killed her captor with the chains that binded her, but the way the image has been exploited for profit? Not so feminist. Fisher has been quite vocal about the depiction of “Slave Leia,” and recently told newbie Star Wars actress, Daisy Ridley, to “fight for your outfit. Don’t be a slave like I was. You keep fighting against that slave outfit.” “All right, I’ll fight,” Ridley promised.
Of course, Fisher has made her distaste for the outfit well known ever since the film first came out, telling Rolling Stone back in 1983:
And she’s absolutely right. The golden bikini symbolized hyper-sexualization of women in the film industry, and femininity does NOT equal sexualization. Yes, “Slave Leia” may have been “iconic” in the ’80s, but it’s not the ’80s anymore. Slave Leia happened back then, and there’s no changing the past, but we are able to change the present, and we are able to start anew. To keep such a problematic image in the media literally only for the sake of tradition — what would that say about Disney? We can only hope that the rumors are true, and that Disney listens to the vast amount of criticism facing the golden bikini and keeps Slave Leia out of the picture, for good.
(Image via Lucasfilm Ltd.)