Monday, May 5, 2008

Where Have All The Women Gone?

The most anticipated movie of the year left not much to admire.
In fact it was a big setback for human actors, and it became a HUGE one for actresses.

So much attention was given to the second installment of George Lucas famous second trilogy, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Even when the first prequel was still showing in cinemas across the U.S. back in 1999, Star Wars freaks, geeks and other devoted fans already raised questions concerning the fate of main characters and guessing what will happen next to them. Talks around Episode II heated up when Mr. Lucas and the boys from *NSYNC announced that this robotic-style-danced boyband is going to appear as Jedi masters who will soon-to-be-killed in the climax battle scenes as the Republic attack the separatists.
Anyway, it’s such a wise decision that the plan was soon abandoned, because if it didn’t, maybe we would hear certain song, like “I Drive Myself Crazy” as the soundtrack for the scene when Padmé Amidala and Anakin Skywalker romancing in the wild by rolling on the green grass *sic!*, the scene that so much identical with Bollywood’s.

Comparing to last year biggest bomb-buster, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, it’s a little bit strange that none of the Hollywood people complaining about this second episode of Star Wars.
Well, yes, the first one need no human actors – in flesh – to act while the latter has some, but if you were brave enough to try counting the characters (including those tens of thousands of clones), you’ll surely find out that there are more computer-generated-actors than real human-actor featured in this Star Wars movie alone, way too many compared to The Spirits Within.
But we heard nothing from those big actors and actresses, including from the so vocal guy Tom Hanks whom last year gave his word not to let his children watch The Spirits Within as boycott against movie production that could tear down their market shares (i.e. their multi-million dollar salaries).
So there and then the first fantasy ended as the final one. But then this year saw Mr. Lucas hitting big screens around the globe with his another fantasy-comes-true in digital pictures.

Everyone who has business with and make living from Hollywood was talking about this Episode II. All the human actors were given spotlights and had craze fans cheering for them in premiere.
But if you, just like I did, gave an extra attention, you’d find there was only one actress with real acting role which has relevance in it.
Of course, unsurprisingly, the part went to Natalie Portman, playing the before Queen of Naboo then-turn-out-to-be a Senator, the leader of the opposition of the Republic.

Now our task is to wonder why Mr. Lucas had fewer actresses in his picture. Why didn’t he give more acting opportunities for actresses? Is he a male chauvinist? For you who have already seen the movie, let’s do a little counting. Beside Padmé Amidala (a.k.a. Natalie Portman), he only gave six (!) other actresses dialogue-lines; most of them only consist of short sentences.

The first actress appeared before our eyes were Amidala-look-a-like, a nameless female character whose only role was as to become bait. It went so effectively well in just a couple of minutes she faced her fate, killed by terrorist’s attack.*

After engaging in many conversations which occurred between Senator Amidala with all-male characters, there comes another actress whom was paid to kill Amidala while she was fast asleep. But wait! Is she a real woman?
We’ve all seen it, she was soon got killed after being caught in a fantastic chase by Obi Wan Kenobi (Ewan MacGregor) and Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen), and it turned out that she was actually an alien – oops! I mean a CGI character.

The third actress who had lines was the old librarian whom Obi Wan asking questions about a certain planet that wasn’t there in the encyclopedia files. She appeared for only about two minutes and spoke some lines. A bit of importance, though.

Next talking female character was the Queen of Naboo, the successor of Amidala. In this scene, we could hear the evidence of intergalactic relations that India performed successfully. She was talking with Indian (or in general, South Asian) accent. Remember her thick consonant voice?

The actress who played Shmi Skywalker, Anakin’s dearly mother, was the next woman who spoke in this movie, but only to say short lines such as, “Ani, is that you?” and then died of pain and torture.

The last woman whom (only) had (a) line was a Jedi master which appeared in the final battle scene when a group of Jedi masters led by Yoda trying to save Amidala, Anakin, and Obi Wan from becoming feasts of (CG-) monsters. She’s tough, screaming “Hhaaiiiyyyaaahh!” while in the same time saberlighted a droid, splitted it into pieces.

We have seen three actresses who had lines died in this episode 2.
We definitely know Amidala will die in the next one.

It seemed to me that (almost?) all women characters that performed dialogues in this Star Wars saga would end up died or suffered harshly in these movies.

I thought Star Wars were not all-exclusive guys’ flick that gave opportunities only for (male-) actors. But on the other side, they were also definitely not a good way for actresses to develop their acting career either. Unless for newcomers or extras who just want to make a living in Hollywood whom still have their chances to play in Star Wars Episode III as waitresses or inter-galactic hookers.

Did you notice it in this Attack of The Clones just like I did?
George Lucas only gave acting parts for other actresses as guests and hookers in a nightclub or waitresses accompanying Senator Amidala and the Queen of Naboo, or serving anything to talking – mostly males – characters, or simply as passer-bys whom only had to perform faces and not make any sound that could be considered as meaningful talk (even Amidala appeared once bringing a tray to serve breakfast for Anakin!).
Or maybe these actresses still have chances to show up, not to act, but to perform in fantastically made galactically produced gowns and dresses and colored faces so as to make us believe they’re not human.

So, one question lingers, is Lucas a male chauvinist?
It seemed that he constructed his Star Wars pictures not for women to act but only to make his productions not all-males starred.

Did you realize that he even gave more acting parts (and I mean more dialogues) for female-shaped CGI-characters?
It has been a couple of weeks since I saw this movie and still I’m wondering why he made them (all?) have breasts-shape on their upper part bodies?
Why should non-human female characters must have bodies similar to women’s?
Didn’t God created women special?
And because it is so, why didn’t Lucas make his non-human male characters have penises or Adam’s apples or anything else that so identical to male’s anatomy? So we could identify a non-human male character as a male not only by its deep harsh voice but also by looking at their body parts, just like the way he made his non-human female characters looks feminine by making them breasts-shape chests.

After spending two hours inside the darkened studio watching too much artificial scenes with so many computer-generated actors, there was only one thing left for me to wonder.
Up until this moment, I am still curious about this one definite question to ask Mr. George Lucas: Where have all the women (i.e. actresses) gone?

Maybe the answer is quite obvious yet still I’m trying to avoid considering it as the real one: they were attacked (and beaten up and killed) by the clones (and also by the droids and the so much non-human-characters). Sigh! ***

* Trivia: in later years, it is revealed that the actress played as the decoy of Queen Amidala was none other than Keira Knightley.

"Where Have All The Women Gone?" was originally posted online in some mailing-lists on 1 September 2002, under the title "Star Wars Episode II: Where Have All The Women Gone?". This present version above has some minor changes and trivia addition at the end of the writing.


Syufra Malina said...

Darn! Your writing is getting better. FYI, one of my short stories will be published in Indonesian NYers bulletin. Can you believe that???Hehehe, thanks for my sister.
Well, i missed hang out with you do some silly stuffs together, just like the old days.

Syufra Malina said...

another comment, all the women in the world, lets raise against Mr Lucas...aaah its so good to say this huahauaha