Late last week we reported on a court ruling that barred video-on-demand company VidAngel from digitally editing the scenes with Princess Leia’s space bikini in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, as well as taking out “objectionable” material from other movies. Since legally, VidAngel is not allowed to filter out what they deem to be objectionable material, should Lucasfilm and Disney consider going back and sanitizing the scenes from Return of the Jedi themselves?
The movie was originally released in 1983, and at the time nobody seemed upset or offended by these scenes. Except maybe Carrie Fisher, who had to wear the iconic two-piece bathing suit. It has always been a fan favorite, and the bikini is often spotted at Cosplay conventions and all throughout various Comic-Cons. But minds, like time, have changed. And the bikini Leia is causing some distress amongst the masses who now find it highly objectionable.
This iteration of Carrie Fisher’s iconic character was once known as Slave Leia. That term has since been retired. Some now refer to this version as The Hutt Slayer. And Lucasfilm has already vowed never to make another piece of merchandise with bikini Leia’s likeness on it ever again. So is a digital alteration too far fetched? Considering how George Lucas has endlessly toyed with and retooled these movies, no it’s not. And he’s long been an outspoken feminist for the duration of his career. So he could go back in and Shepard a digital fix if he really wanted to.
Lucasfilm and Disney could very easily go in and CGI a something more kid-friendly onto Princess Leia. But why would they do so? As it turns out, over time, Leia’s naked torso has gone on to offend certain groups who would rather not have their children see a grown woman in a bathing suit next to a fat slob, which is their prerogative. But the real question is: is there that many people that are so offended by said bikini? VidAngel started with only six employees in 2014 and raised an impressive $5 million dollars in 28 hours, so it would appear that there is a market for people who would like to remove Princess Leia’s bikini scenes from Return of the Jedi, a story first reported by Inverse.
But where do you draw the line? If the bikini is bad, what about the violence? The idea seems to be a slippery slope that would butcher the movie. It’s understandable why Lucasfilm and Disney, among other movie studios, don’t want their material being altered in a way that they do not see fit, especially if the movies were not purchased legally in the first place. Though Lucasfilm could very easily go in and CGI a sweater and jeans on to Princess Leia, it’s not their responsibility. Though some increasingly feel it might be for the betterment of mankind.
There is a third argument to the equation, which is, does the bathing suit objectify women? Though not why VidAngel sought to sanitize the movie, it is an interesting thought. But as Carrie Fisher herself said, she “strangles Jabba the Hutt with the literal chains of the patriarchy.” Fisher was able to come to grips with it on her own terms. She may have regretted it in the past, but it was her decision and it was far from over the top.
When it comes down to it, if certain groups deem the movie to be offensive for audiences of a certain age, maybe they shouldn’t be able to see the movie at all. Or at least until they reach a certain age to be determined by parents and guardians. Plenty of children of all ages have been raised on the Star Wars universe and turned out okay. In addition, when you take things away from children, they often end up rebelling and wanting to see things like Leia in a space bathing suit way more than they should since it has been turned into taboo.
Maybe VidAngel should look into making their own movies since they seem to know so much about improving the movies of others. When it comes down to it, it’s the responsibility of the parents and guardians to decide what they will show their kids, not the movie studios. Return of the Jedi has been out for over 34 years now and has been totally fine as a family movie for those who are not offended by bathing suits. But there is a growing outcry to have some clothes put on Leia. Will it happen. Let’s just say it’s not out of the question.