25 December 2015

Leia Sketch Card by John Soukup

I've had this card for quite a while, having won it from an eBay seller back in October. It's a sketch card of Princess Leia by John Soukup from the 2015 Topps Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens set. You can see part of Jabba the Hutt in the background there, which leads me to wonder if this card has another piece out there somewhere. I haven't seen one, but I also haven't been looking very hard for it. I do have some pretty wide searches out there for Star Wars sketches and Soukup's work, so I would think that if one exists and comes up for sale I will at least see it.

Because I tend to sit and stew on things for months at a time, I have been thinking about how the world views Princess Leia's slave costume. It bothers me a little bit that people see the costume and say, "Oh! It's sexy Leia!" while ignoring that it is also a slave costume. It is a sexy costume, but it's not sexy because Leia felt like sexing it up that day. It's because Jabba the Hutt was a bad guy who enslaved people and dressed them up to humiliate them and show off his power. The scenes set in Jabba's palace are an important part of the Star Wars story in general and Leia's story arc in particular, and the costume deserves to be known as more than just the "Sexy Leia" costume. The costume is important in that Leia uses the chains that are a part of it to choke and kill Jabba while making her own escape. She is an active participant in the escape / rescue rather than just a damsel in distress waiting on someone else to save her. She overcomes Jabba's attempt to denigrate her and shows that she isn't defined by his attempts to control her.

Maybe I am overthinking this stuff, but as a husband and father I find myself looking at the messages that come into my home and the messages I send by my words and actions. Star Wars is going to be a part of my family's mythology, and the slave costume is part of that. I want to raise my kids to see female characters as more than eye candy. Leia is a powerful hero in the Star Wars universe, and taking a proper view of the slave costume as a symbol of Jabba's ill intentions allows the viewer to see Leia's strength and will to rise above the circumstances she finds herself in. I don't think that the slave costume needs to be whitewashed or removed from the movies. I don't deny that Carrie Fisher looks attractive in the costume. She is attractive in the other Leia costumes, too. But she also plays a character who exhibits strength, leadership, and determination. Physical attractiveness is just one of her qualities.

Sorry for the preachy post. I have conflicting feelings about the slave Leia costume and society's view of women, and I didn't just want to throw the sketch up here on my blog without some sort of commentary. I am not particularly qualified as a champion of gender politics, but I have been thinking about this stuff as I evaluate myself and the messages I send to my wife, kids, and the other people I interact with in life.

We still haven't seen The Force Awakens. It's hard to find five tickets side-by-side that aren't in the front row of the theater. It'll probably be next weekend before we get out to see it. A (former) friend of mine already spoiled the movie for me, so I figure I can wait another week to see it. The logistics of even simple things like going to the movies are much more complicated when you've got three young kids. The new Force Awakens set from Topps has added a new card to my want list, but the going price has this particular card up there in the White Whale category:

It's a sticker autograph, but that doesn't really bother me much. Time will tell if I eventually save enough money up and allocate it to getting a copy of this card, but it's the new top dog on my "If I Win the Lottery" list. It's currently trading at well over $200, so it's not one of those impulse-buy things for me. I definitely would like to add a copy to my Leia collection, though.


  1. These are the kind of posts I aspire to be able to do, something with soul and substance instead of my normal fluff. I don't think your being preachy as there is nothing wrong with being concerned about what your kids are exposed to. I don't have any children, but I do wish more parents would share your same thoughts regarding such things.

    I must say too, that I don't understand the joy some people seem to get in spoiling movies for folks who haven't seen them yet. Especially if it is someone you would calla friend.

    And on a much lighter note, I think it would be very neat to see a companion sketch card to yours, if such a card does exist.

    1. I'll second pretty much all of this. The slave Leia bikini thing is completely understandable in any situation (even as flexible one would probably consider my morals), and especially as a parent. The context is valuable, and I didn't find it preachy at all.

      The whining about spoilers got pretty over-the-top at times, and pretty tiresome in general, not the least because I don't really mind them at all. I still posted a heads up for my Facebook friends/geek groups about some miscreants planning to spoil it for as many people as possible when it was tweeted into my Twitter timeline though. I may find it annoying, but going out of one's way to ruin stuff for people is pretty genuinely awful, especially if they're friends.

      (Awesome sketch card, btw!)

    2. I guess in a cultural context a lot of people aren't necessarily invested in Star Wars like I am. Perhaps they just don't know the story, so for all they know Leia could just be a scantily-clad seductress. You can't really blame them for that. But there are plenty of Star Wars fans who know the story and still ignore the underlying nastiness of the situation.

      I am going to the movie tomorrow afternoon, so I will soon be free from the burden of avoiding spoilers. It is an awesome sketch card, and I do hope that there is a companion piece and that it becomes available at an attainable price.