When the announcement came on October 31, 2012 that The Walt Disney Co bought Lucasfilm, I believed that Star Wars would expand and grow with new stories and characters under the care of a company, that creates stories and characters that appeal to everyone. However, as time went on, headlines like Star Wars will help Disney focus on boys, Hey Star Wars–Where the hell are the women? , Where are the women in Star Wars Rebels? and ‘STAR WARS’: I FIND YOUR LACK OF FEMALE REPRESENTATION DISTURBING made me surprised and concerned that these new Star Wars stories were not going to appeal to at least one half of the Star Wars fan base, especially this Star Wars fangirl.
I was especially troubled by the reveals of the characters in Star Wars Rebels because I knew the crew of that series, who also worked on Star Wars The Clone Wars, had a better grasp of, in my opinion, the female half of the Star Wars fan base. I watched as as each video was posted on Starwars.com and on the Star Wars Rebels YouTube channel. For an entire week, a new character from the series was revealed. However, the female characters in the series, Sabine and Hera, were not added until the end of the week, after all the male characters were revealed.
The marketing strategy focus seems to be on the male characters of the series and the male half of the audience. While the reveal of the female characters seemed to be an after thought. As a fangirl and as someone who works in the advertising and marketing industry, I feel that they handled these reveals poorly. Therefore, because of how the marketing of Star Wars Rebels was handled, I approached this new animated series, Star Wars Rebels, with excitement, tempered by caution.
Fortunately, my excitement outweighed my caution, even with the poor marketing strategy, because it did not stop me from buying the prequel novel Star Wars A New Dawn on multiple digital formats, audio and ebook, or from attending the free local premiere screening of Star Wars Rebels ‘Spark of Rebellion‘.
As a fangirl, I noticed two things that overcame my caution and added to my excitement. First, Hera and Sabine are both fantastic female characters and role models. They are both strong, resourceful and everything I hoped for. Even though they may not be the focus of the series, based on the marketing strategy, I cannot wait to learn more about them and their relationships to the other characters. Second, both the novel and the series premiere, felt like Star Wars to me and I want more like this!! Therefore, I was so glad that I did not let my caution override my excitement.
Other female fans who shared the same trepidation over the initial rollout during Toy Fair have responded favorably to the series. When I asked Tricia Barr, from the podcast Fangirls Going Rogue about the premiere she said,
“The reaction online during the premiere was overall positive. For a while now, the element of romance or chemistry was lost in Star Wars storytelling. Not every female fan wants to see that, but a significant portion of female fans do. There was plenty of buzz surrounding Hera and Kanan and the possibilities suggested for those two just after one episode. Too, Hera and Sabine were confident and competent, not ladies in need of rescue or falling back on worn stereotypes about female characters. It’s apparent the show is working to establish a great diverse cast and that the negative buzz that came out of New York Toy Fair reveals that the licensing side isn’t always promoting the show for what the creators intend for it to be.”
Hera and Sabine are both fantastic female characters and role models, and like Tricia this helped overcome my caution and added to my excitement. Hera and Sabine are both strong and resourceful and everything I hoped for. Even though they may not be the focus of the series, from the marketing strategy, I cannot wait to learn more about them and their relationships to the other characters. Second, both the novel and the series premiere, felt like Star Wars to me and I want more like this!! Therefore, I was so glad that I did not let my caution override my excitement.
So have you seen the mini movie Star Wars Rebels Spark of Rebellion yet? If so, what did you think of it? Did it miss, meet or exceed your expectations? If not, then you may want to watch the ABC prime time television debut of Star Wars Rebels Spark of Rebellion on October 26 at 7:00PM EST with an extra scene added featuring Darth Vadar voiced by none other than James Earl Jones!