Kathleen Kennedy Says "A Lot Of Women Who Step Into STAR WARS Struggle" Due To "Male Dominated" Fanbase

Kathleen Kennedy Says "A Lot Of Women Who Step Into STAR WARS Struggle" Due To "Male Dominated" Fanbase

In a new interview, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy has weighed in on the "terrifying" prospect of stepping into the Star Wars franchise for women due to toxic fandom...

By MarkCassidy - May 30, 2024 09:05 AM EST
Filed Under: Star Wars
Source: Via SFF Gazette

Every fandom has its share of toxic elements, but it's probably fair to say that Disney-era Star Wars has experienced more negativity and backlash from a certain contingent of fans than any other franchise over the past few years.

There was the expected amount of pushback to Daisy Ridley being announced as the lead of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it really picked up when her character, Rey, was deemed to be a "Mary Sue." The toxicity arguably reached a crescendo when Kelly Marie-Tran's Rose Tico was introduced in The Last Jedi, but the general perception among some fans that Star Wars has become too pandering in its representation and inclusivity continues.

With The Acolyte - a new Disney+ series from showrunner Leslye Headland featuring a primarily female cast - on the horizon, Lucasfilm CEO Kathleen Kennedy acknowledged that coming aboard the franchise can be a "terrifying" experience for female filmmakers and actors.

"Operating within these giant franchises now, with social media and the level of expectation – it's terrifying," she tells The New York Times. "I think Leslye has struggled a little bit with it. I think a lot of the women who step into Star Wars struggle with this a bit more. Because of the fan base being so male-dominated, they sometimes get attacked in ways that can be quite personal. My belief is that storytelling does need to be representative of all people. That's an easy decision for me."

As for Headland, she empathizes with some of the frustration the fans have felt about the direction the Star Wars franchise has gone in, but believes that anyone who crosses the line into hate speech isn't a real fan in the first place.

“As a fan myself, I know how frustrating some Star Wars storytelling in the past has been. I’ve felt it myself,” she said. “I stand by my empathy for Star Wars fans. But I want to be clear. Anyone who engages in bigotry, racism or hate speech … I don’t consider a fan.”

What do you make of Kennedy and Headland's comments? Be sure to share your thoughts down below.

In The Acolyte, an investigation into a shocking crime spree pits a respected Jedi Master (Lee Jung-jae) against a dangerous warrior from his past (Amandla Stenberg). As more clues emerge, they travel down a dark path where sinister forces reveal all is not what it seems.

 The series stars Amandla Stenberg, Lee Jung-jae, Manny Jacinto, Dafne Keen, Charlie Barnett, Jodie Turner-Smith, Rebecca Henderson, Dean-Charles Chapman, Joonas Suotamo, and Carrie-Anne Moss.

Leslye Headland created the series, based on Star Wars by George Lucas, and serves as an executive producer along with Kathleen Kennedy, Simon Emanuel, Jeff F. King and Jason Micallef. Charmaine DeGraté and Kor Adana are the co-executive producers. Rayne Roberts, Damian Anderson, Eileen Shim and Rob Bredow are the producers.

Headland also directed the premiere episodes (Eps. 101 & 102). Directors Kogonada (Eps. 103 & 107), Alex Garcia Lopez (Eps. 104 & 105) and Hanelle Culpepper (Eps. 106 & 108) round out the directing duties on the series.

"I really wanted to tell a story about the Sith," showrunner Headland told EW in a recent interview. "That was kind of my dream Star Wars idea. But it felt like the time period to do that in would be something pre-Phantom Menace. That seemed to be the most interesting trajectory for the Sith: How did the Sith go from the Rule of Two and being quote-unquote 'extinct' to Palpatine coming into power without the Jedi knowing about it?"

Award-winning composer Michael Abels, known for his work on Get Out and Us, scored The Acolyte.

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GalactusEatsALL - 5/30/2024, 9:02 AM
Put a chick in it and make her lame and gay!
The1st - 5/30/2024, 9:33 AM
@GalactusEatsALL - User Comment Image

That said, my experience has not been what KK has described with women in my experience. I have seen plenty of solid female characters in SW that men mostly have no problem with. they have been well developed. The sequel trilogy however...

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Not all of it, that just seems to be how these movies work nowadays for big IPs. I think more of the problem sometimes is fan expectation not being what we expect when you get to the end result. Luke was a good example. I didn't have a problem per se with the portrayal, but, as Hamill will tell you. You don't just change the trajectory of the character to "make it more compelling". Especially when a generation had an expectation for where they thought things would/should go given "Legends" and other material just to make money. You would have made money if you'd given fans what they wanted and been competent about it. While I agree fans are fanatics today, it isn't just about women. It's about every bit of minutia.

It's like they have a bad taste in their mouths or something.
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Ryguy88 - 5/30/2024, 9:58 AM
@The1st - I think Rey was well recieved after the first movie, but once they revealed that they had nothing after that, it became obvious the character was just there for the sake of putting a chick in it.
Itwasme - 5/30/2024, 10:27 AM
@Ryguy88 - idk man, the reaction felt pretty strong after that first movie. And tbh, I don't think we really got the chance to see how it was going to play out because the reaction was so strong. Their pivot led to that abomination (IMO) of the 3rd film.
Ryguy88 - 5/30/2024, 10:35 AM
@Itwasme - it definitely shifted drastically when the 2nd movie came out. I'm firmly in that camp as well - I defended ep 7, and trashed 8
bobevanz - 5/30/2024, 10:46 AM
@The1st - what about Jake Lloyd and Ahmed Best? Or Hayden? Plenty of characters weren't liked at the time, but over time they have. Rey won't get that because we already had a Mary Sue with Luke. Went retread the same water? Also this isn't even the [frick]ing problem with current SW. Idc if it's all women. The trilogy wasn't thought out and strung together, the characters weren't memorable, Rian Johnson undid everything Jar Jar Abrams was trying to do. Now for the shows: Andorra is top notch. Boba,Obi Wan, Mando past season two, and Ashoka were all mediocre or terrible. THE PROBLEM ISNT WOMEN, ITS THE WOMAN IN CHARGE. Producers aren't world builders, that's all KK is.. a producer. The fact that she skips over this part and cries sexist just proves my point.
DevilsDreams - 5/30/2024, 10:50 AM
@bobevanz - I'd say that Luke wasn't a Mary Sue, whilst only a few throw away lines are there it hints at his history of flying and shooting small targets, when he gets to the second movie he outright loses to Vader, but he picks himself back up and strives to be better.

You are right about the women in charge though I'd say...
Itwasme - 5/30/2024, 10:51 AM
@Ryguy88 - I liked parts of 8 a lot tbh. I felt the way they explained the Force was some of the best ways to put it out of all the films. I'm also older so Luke was always whiny to me and I never got the idea he should be this supreme Jedi, so none of that bothered me either. I just really didn't like the side plot with Finn and Rose.

But that 3rd film... idk... I barely consider it a movie tbh, I just find the structure so bad.
Ryguy88 - 5/30/2024, 1:05 PM
@Itwasme - you're not wrong about ep 9, sheesh. I read a few of the extended universe books as a kid. I would have loved to have seen the older luke portrayed in those on film. Maybe one day.
supermanrex - 5/30/2024, 4:49 PM
@DevilsDreams - lukes history does not add up to besting trained seasoned veteran tie fighter pilots in SPACE. flying and shooting womprats in beggars canyon is not the same as combat in the weightless void of space. yet he aced it and destroyed an entire battlestation. MARY SUE!!!!!!
JackBurton1 - 5/30/2024, 7:30 PM
@GalactusEatsALL - The hack just can't help herself...
dagenspear - 5/31/2024, 3:39 AM
@GalactusEatsALL - They cut out gay for other countries.
dagenspear - 5/31/2024, 3:40 AM
@bobevanz - Luke's nowhere near a Mary Sue.
KindredMac - 5/30/2024, 9:07 AM
What the hell does Kennedy know about ANYTHING?
She is so fricking clueless…
IAmAHoot - 5/30/2024, 9:22 AM
@KindredMac - The "it's because I'm a woman" excuse is often used so out of context you can't help but laugh at it, which of course offends them further.
lazlodaytona - 5/30/2024, 9:32 AM
@KindredMac - chicks dude. Feminists always use the "it's all the males fault" excuse. It's like the WNBA. They wanna know why they don't get as much pay as men. IT'S BECAUSE THEIR GAME IS BORING AND THEY DON'T SELL ANY TICKETS. The NBA gave them their league and covers their a$$es since their first season since the league NEVER turns a profit.
Ryguy88 - 5/30/2024, 10:00 AM
@lazlodaytona - their business model literally relies on NBA ticket sales. Men ARE supporting it, whether they watch it or not.
grif - 5/30/2024, 11:04 AM
@KindredMac - knows alot about losing money
OptimusCrime - 5/30/2024, 9:07 AM

Leia and Padelme are proof that woman had it hard in Star Wars.
No one remembers them
Origame - 5/30/2024, 9:10 AM
@OptimusCrime - who's this...leeeeia you speak of?
FireandBlood - 5/30/2024, 9:13 AM
@OptimusCrime - No one in Star Wars needed to be saved more than Padme and Leia. No one. One of them was quite literally made into a semi-naked slave with a chain around her neck. They very much lived up to the damsel in distress trope that no male character could in Star Wars.
Slotherin - 5/30/2024, 9:18 AM
@FireandBlood - you do have a point and it was even the subject of an article about how the Star Wars universe is a particularly shitty one for women when you think about it.

Still, with that said, Leia did help rescue herself (and Han also needed rescued) while Padme was with Anakin and they both needed rescued by the Jedi order and those nuances feel worth pointing out.
OptimusCrime - 5/30/2024, 9:28 AM
@FireandBlood - oh please.
In episode 2 Both Anakin and Obi-wan needed saving in the Arena and after being wounded by Dooku. In Episode 3 Obi-wan needed saving after being defeated by Dooku. In Episode 4 Luke needed saving from the Tusken Raiders. Episode 5 Luke needed saving in the snow and after Vader chopped his hand of.
Episode 6 had Han Solo that needed saving.

The only difference is that Padme and Leia had political reasons.
marvel72 - 5/30/2024, 9:31 AM
@FireandBlood - Han Solo was in carbon freeze in Return Of The Jedi and needed saving.

Princess Leia killed Jabba The Hutt to escape from being a slave.
Luke needed saving at the end of The Empire Strikes Back when he was hanging on a antenna.
Luke needed saving when he was on Hoth and Han found him.
The1st - 5/30/2024, 9:37 AM
@Origame - Indeed. Whoosa dis a preencess yousa be talkin about, and whysa amsa me not a sith lord in di canon?
TheFinestSmack - 5/30/2024, 9:40 AM
@FireandBlood - slave bikini aside, she needed to be rescued in A New Hope on the Death Star, but then her Luke, Han and Chewy needed to be rescued from the trash compactor. Then Luke went missing and needed to be rescued on Hoth. Then Luke needed to be rescued from beneath Cloud City in the same movie. Then Han and Leia both needed to be rescued from Jabba. But then we're back to Luke needing to be rescued by Vader. I'd say Luke needed the most rescuing in OT Star Wars.
FireandBlood - 5/30/2024, 9:40 AM
@OptimusCrime - Both Episode 1 and 2 were about protecting Padme. Quite literally, that was the plot and everything that unfolded was built around it. Padme is the ultimate damsel that was even relegated to the pregnant girlfriend in the third one.

The entire plot of the original Star Wars is also about saving a princess, and then Leia got herself into a bother where she needed to be saved in every subsequent movie until the sequels when she learned to save herself, which was absolutely hated by fans.

Both of them are undeniable damsels and that’s why not a single one of you had an issue with them, and when one of them learned how to use the force, you made Mary Poppins comparisons.
Ryguy88 - 5/30/2024, 10:03 AM
@FireandBlood - Leia was part of her own rescue and was the commander of the Rebellion. But I guess they didnt show her being better than Luke and Han at everything, so it was sexist.
SethBullock - 5/30/2024, 12:14 PM
@FireandBlood - The problem with the sequels was not a woman learning to use the force, the problem was that everything in those movies sucked, male characters included.
WhateverItTakes - 5/30/2024, 2:10 PM
@marvel72 - you you tell fireandblood he's a racist prick from me. He might know me as deshonesto 😉
marvel72 - 5/30/2024, 8:37 PM
@WhateverItTakes -

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Origame - 5/30/2024, 9:09 AM
Or maybe, Kathleen, they struggle because they're poorly written with the corporate agenda written all over them.

You're acting like men in star wars haven't gotten it rough with fans.
krayzeman - 5/30/2024, 9:10 AM
Well she's not lyin...
Origame - 5/30/2024, 9:10 AM
@krayzeman - no she is.
Slotherin - 5/30/2024, 9:13 AM
@krayzeman - maybe she isn't but that doesn't mean she's right either.
I'm willing to give space for her to be mistaken at best and deceptive at worst.
The1st - 5/30/2024, 9:38 AM
@Slotherin - Thank you for your objective candor.
Slotherin - 5/30/2024, 9:44 AM
@The1st - you're welcome
krayzeman - 5/30/2024, 9:50 AM
@Origame - Definitely not lyin. This post will probably have 350 comments by the end of the week with some variation on comments that are what I assume mostly male disparaging Kennedy's opinion and her and trigger those who are defensive about this subject which will totally justify what she claims. There definitely has been toxicity towards females in the franchise justified or not. Read the comments this post will generate and be the judge
WarMonkey - 5/30/2024, 10:01 AM
@krayzeman - OK let's play the game here that KK and others play.... You are sexist and racist if you don't like this thing I made and if you deny it that only proves that is was true all along.
Origame - 5/30/2024, 10:21 AM
@krayzeman - ...are you seriously trying to claim that men getting mad at her clearly sexist comments is proof she's right?

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