Intersections – Explaining Leia
By Nicki Salcedo
I wanted to wear my hair in two buns for my wedding. Less to the side like Princess Leia and more on top of my head like a Greek goddess. No one thought this was a good idea. I wanted to play Darth Vader’s “Imperial March” when I walked down the aisle to say, “I do.” Again, I had no backers. I did things the traditional way, but in my heart I’ve always wanted to put a different twist on girlish things.
A lot of who I am today is because of “Star Trek” and “Star Wars.”
I only have two Halloween costumes in my closet: Uhura and Princess Leia. I could have more modern costumes, meaning a variation of a superhero that ends with “girl.” I’ve told my kids that I don’t like Batgirl and Supergirl as much as I like Wonder Woman and Black Widow. It makes a difference to me that the character can stand on her own.
When my family decided to watch “Star Wars” recently, I had to explain Princess Leia.
Princess Leia is completely covered up from head to toe. She looks like nun who sings in a choir. She is not outfitted in spandex. She is properly dressed. I love Uhura, but her dress was so short she had to wear bloomers and tall boots to make up for the lack of pants. Not Leia. Leia was going to rule the galaxy with her clothes on.
The first time you see Leia, she is being a spy. The second time you see Leia, she is toe-to-toe with Darth Vader. She is the only person in the movie who gets away with sassing him and rolling her eyes. Everyone else suffered the Dark Side choke hold, but not Leia.
Of course, her sass resulted in the Death Star doing something dramatic to her home planet Alderaan. I turned to my kids during the movie to explain, “Only then do you see her panic. She never cries.”
When my kids start having a meltdown, I try to put their hysterics into perspective. “Was your home planet just destroyed? Then pull it together, young Jedi.”
By the next scene, Leia is recovered enough to grab Luke’s blaster and ward off the storm troopers.
“No indecision, kids. Do you see that? Leia takes charge.”
When they are lamenting over what to wear to school or what cereal to choose for breakfast, I want to shout, “What would Leia do?”
It is very easy to overlook Princess Leia when you are a kid. Luke has this great last name. Han wears a tantalizing belt slung low on his perfect hips. Sure, Leia has the gift of diplomacy, but how can you compare that to a guy with a lightsaber? Or a man with a Wookie?
It looks like Leia is playing second fiddle to these men, but she’s playing first chair violin. She isn’t afraid of heights or diving into a trash compactor. She will kiss a mercenary and dress as a bounty hunter. She gets to rock a sweet metal bikini at precisely the moment when her boyfriend is blind.
“She is a sexual being without having to rely on her sexuality to save her,” I say as she is choking Jabba the Hut with her chains. My kids groan. They do not like me using the words sex, sexuality, or sexy. Did anyone notice that she is saving herself? The men in “Star Wars” don’t even worry about her.
Luke is thinking, “She’s got this.”
Han is thinking, “Ditto.”
I already have my tickets to “The Force Awakens.” I already know that I’m going to like it. I did not like the prequels. Probably because they lacked Leia (and scripts that made sense and any character development). Fortunately, my dear friend Leia is in this new “Star Wars” movie. She continues to be my hero.
I was a tomboy who wondered why I always picked the wrong guy. I didn’t like Kirk, I liked Spock. I didn’t like Luke, I liked Han. These days it’s “Lost.” I don’t like Jack, because I have my boyfriend Sawyer. On “The Walking Dead” everyone else is team Rick Grimes, while I’m looking for my buddy, Shane. Don’t even get me started on Peeta and Gale. Riker versus Worf.
Leia taught me that you don’t have to pick the clean, perfect guy. You don’t have to wait for a shoulder to cry on. Sometimes you just need to take a leap.
I’m curious about the people who haven’t seen “Star Wars.” How can you live on this planet without ever knowing about Tatooine? I’ve met some of these creatures who haven’t seen “Star Wars.” Strange they are. There is still time to catch up on the original movies. Skip the prequels. You’ll thank me later. (While you’re at it, skip “Lost,” season 4).
Go see “Star Wars.” Go see it for Leia. You’re her only hope. No other character gets to be spy, diplomat, rebel, and Jedi. Not bad for a princess.
Intersections,” the book, is a collection of columns from Decaturish.com and beyond. It is now available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.