Could Slave Leia Be No More?

Slave Princess Leia banned Star Wars merchandise Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”

Well, maybe it’s not that dramatic but the news that Slave Leia will possibly be wiped out of all future Star Wars merchandise has upset quite a few voices. Horny, nerdy, hardcore Star Wars fans sure, but they still count. At least as much as the one voice that supposedly started this elimination of Slave Leia from history.

As of now this is simply a rumor that has ignited internet fervor. There has been no confirmation from Disney or LucasFilm about any of it. So this very well could be a random blurb that lit a fuse of speculation.

It was only a few years ago when George Lucas sold the Star Wars rights to Disney and fans got nervous wondering how the Mouse House would handle their beloved space opera. Was Lucas’ change of Han Solo shooting Greedo first just a precursor as to what would come and Star Wars would get thrown headfirst into the PC and family-friendly shredder once Mickey and pals got ahold of it?

If true this Slave Leia news would certainly be that feared realized.

In case you’ve been wandering the desert of Tatooine for the last thirty-two years. The name ‘Slave Leia’ has been the name that stuck to the costume worn by Carrie Fisher when in 1983’s Return of the Jedi Princess Leia became the captive of Jabba the Hutt. While attempting to rescue Han Solo, she was captured, put in this steal bikini costume and made to keep Jabba company until she helped turn the tables on the bad guys and ultimately strangled Jabba with the chain he had around her neck.

Carrie Fisher Slave Leia costume Rolling Stone Return of the Jedi photoshoot
Fisher doing a Rolling Stone shoot

In 1983 this slinky, sexy outfit of Leia’s made all young Star Wars fans eyes widen and Fisher’s toned body helped them along their journey of coming to realize that all girls weren’t icky. We all had a crush on Princess Leia, but finally after the three-year wait ended after The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi arrived we were all impressed and excited when she was revealed in her bikini.

I remember back in the golden Star Wars days and being so in love with Princess Leia. Second only after Fisher’s bun hairstyle in 1977’s Star Wars, the gold bikini outfit is the costume that everyone most associates with Leia wearing. Fisher in her bikini was used to promote the film, she was on the movie poster and she did a very fun Rolling Stone layout wearing it.

Back in 1983 no one had any problem with Leia’s slave outfit. Fisher must of worked out like crazy to get in shape to wear it. It was instantly iconic when it appeared in 1983 and is even more so today. It’s kind of funny how in Star Wars Fisher had to tape down her boobs then two movies later she got to wear a bikini.

They only first released an action figure of this version of the character in 1997. I remember being upset in 1983 that they didn’t make a Slave Leia figure. I had my Jabba the Hutt playset and so wanted a Slave Leia to play out the Jabba scenes with. I was forced to use an alternative Princess Leia action figure as a substitute.

Star Wars Slave Leia toy haphazardstuff
My Slave Leia – I have Marvin
there to keep her company

Since the character’s debut in plastic in 1997 I’m betting they released a lot of Slave Leia merchandise. I have no idea the number, but it’s got to be a lot. I tapered off my Star Wars collecting at a certain point and haven’t gotten a Star Wars item in ages. Although one of the last Star Wars toys I did get was – ironically enough – a Star Wars Unleashed Slave Leia. Yep, it’s siting on my shelf.

Now with Star Wars: The Force Awakens almost upon us toy shelves are filling up with new Star Wars stuff. The story goes that some father was shopping with his daughters and they spotted a Slave Leia toy and they asked him why she had a chain around her neck. The father didn’t have an answer for them. I probably would have just told them she was a prisoner, but that’s just me. This father was embarrassed, offended and thought the toy was wildly inappropriate.

This incident coincided with Marvel Comics supposedly instructing all its Star Wars artists not to draw Princess Leia in any provocative poses and absolutely never having her wear that slave outfit. Comic book artist J. Scott Campbell said on Facebook, “You will NOT see any future merchandising featuring the slave outfit ever again. Trust me.”

Fisher herself has been critical of her bikini outfit years after the movie, describing it as “what supermodels will wear in the seventh ring of hell”. More recent comments made by Fisher to Star Wars: The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley telling her “Don’t be a slave like I was.” helped fuel the Slave Leia flames.

So now all the complaints about the the costume being sexist, objectifying women, the shock of parents in 2015 seeing Princess Leia in a bathing suit with a chain and the counter-arguments, head-shaking and responses of “Really?” are erupting all over the place.

You’ll have a lot of fun reading the messageboards and all about the whole Slave Leia controversy. I’m in the “Really???” camp.

Slave Leia General Lee Confederate flag PC banned retired merchandise
General Leia

I can’t say I’m surprised by this. After the whole Dukes of Hazzard General Lee controversy and the announcement of them doing away with toy versions of the car with the Confederate Flag on its roof nothing shocks me anymore.

I don’t understand all the drama. I’m not sure if it’s the character wearing the bikini that is so upsetting. That it was something ok for 1983 kids to see, but today it’s a bit too sexy an image for kids to be subjected to in a fun fantasy film – and especially not have it be molded in plastic.

Maybe everyone was much less uptight during those original Star Wars years and we were all able to have a bit more fun with it. It was all viewed more harmless and no one took it so seriously as today.

Sure it was a worldwide phenomenon and there was merchandising madness around it from the start that unbelievably has only gotten bigger since then. When you try to market it to every single living organism on the planet it’s all not going to take. The variety and amount of Star Wars junk that is being churned out is not going to please everyone.

Somehow I view the Star Wars merchandise back then compared to today as quite different. During those first movies toys were made for kids to play with. Today there’s the kid market and the adult collectors market made up of those original Star Wars kids who are now grown up. They each have different kinds of Star Wars products that they want and they won’t always necessarily intersect with their interests. A nine-year-old isn’t likely the target market for a replica lightsaber worth fifteen grand.

Slave Leia Controversy banned retired toys danger

It’s a whole different set of dangers people are worried about today I guess. Back in the day they squashed the missile-firing Boba Fett because they were afraid kids would choke on it and die. Today Slave Leia made some people red-faced and offended so they’ll take it off the production line. It seems a bit overboard. Maybe I’d understand it better if Slave Leia’s were causing serious bodily injuries to adolescents.

It could be the chain around Leia’s neck that people are offended by. Or maybe it’s because this version of the character has come to be known as ‘Slave Leia’. If that’s the case just do away with the chain and call her Prisoner Leia or Slayer Leia or some other name if that will really make people feel differently about it.

This seemed inevitable when you think about it. Leia’s slave outfit has become so popular with cosplay fans (the amount of fan costume versions you’ll see in one quick internet search is staggering) and it is indeed a sexy costume – probably the sexiest in all of sci-fi and fantasy films so naturally boys are going to like looking at a woman wearing it. It was bound to insult someone at some point. And with Disney holding the billion dollar franchise of Star Wars, the PC attitudes everyone seems to cater to nowadays, it was almost like too perfect a storm for it not to hit Slave Leia.

Carrie Fisher Slave Leia prisoner controversy retired merchandise toys
The New Updated Prisoner Leia

They make a version of every single Star Wars character in every single costume that the wardrobe department creates for every single movie. There are multiple character toys with the tiniest. most insignificant variations imaginable that only kids and hardcore fans would care about. Background characters get their own toys. I’m surprised they haven’t made an action figure line of the actual film crews yet. What kid wouldn’t want to play with an Irvin Kirshner action figure?

Again, all this Slave Leia nonsense is just unconfirmed rumors and nothing official has been
announced yet. I’m not going to 100% believe it until there’s an official press release about it or we actually begin to witness Slave Leia’s quietly fade out of existence. It seems kind of a strange thing though. Not too long ago they released a Slave Leia Mrs. Potato Head doll of all things. So I can’t get a handle on what’s going on. Unless they really wanted to mine the Potato Head collector market with the Slave Leia costume before retiring it for good.

The odds I’ll ever be buying another Star Wars action figure again are probably zero to none. So it won’t affect me much if plastic Slave Leia’s disappear. I’m much more upset when they tinker with the actual images and content of the original films and not so much what happens with the Star Wars merchandise machine. But if Slave Leia merchandise will indeed be no more I just think it’s awfully silly. And if she does get banned for good it will leave me wondering what could be the next pop culture image that will be on the PC hit list.


 

 

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