De-Sexifying Star Wars
The Book of Boba Fett & the Importance of Sex Appeal in Fiction
Episode 4 of The Book of Boba Fett aired yesterday on Disney+ and I’m happy to say it’s the best one yet, a substantial improvement to the very ‘meh’ reception the first three episodes got.
However, despite the enjoyment I derived from the latest episode, the series as a whole seems to be following a troubling trend in Star Wars since Disney acquired it.
No one has sex anymore.
Now, I don’t mean on-screen. Star Wars has always been decidedly family-friendly. But in the original trilogy (and in the now un-canonized Expanded Universe), the characters were sexy and, once safely offscreen, would definitely be having sex. And as an audience member, especially as a teenaged one, that was good to know.
Now that I’m a firmly middle-aged audience member, I find myself getting increasingly annoyed at how thoroughly de-sexed the new show has made Boba Fett. This is the ultimate bad boy, the kind of anti-hero chicks swoon for. He fights, he shoots, he doesn’t take lip off of anyone. And though his morality is a tad muddier than ours, he knows right from wrong and he’s never too busy to give a compliment to the slave girls.
Or at least… that’s how he used to be.
In Season 2 of The Mandalorian, Boba Fett made his triumphant return from his seeming death and he did not disappoint. The savage beating he laid down on the stormtroopers and his take-no-crap demeanor while demanding his father’s armor back from Mando were exactly in line with everything we knew about Boba Fett. And speaking from a straight girl’s perspective, everything that makes our hearts go pitter-pat.
So when he got his own show, we waited with bated breath to see how the former bounty hunter would rain down badassery on Tattoine.
Instead… we got Dances with Tusken Raiders. His narrative arc is still taking shape and we now know how that sense of belonging with the Tuskens changed his outlook on life. Fair enough. But did it also take his swagger, that certain je ne sais quois that comes from being the man in charge?
Obviously, Boba will not be taking up with Fennec Shand (played by Ming-Na Wen) as they are clearly all business. But I can’t help but feel that the three short scenes with casino maven Garsa (played by the glorious Jennifer Beals) were entirely wasted. Yes, Boba survived the sarlac pit, but he’s still a man. You’re gonna tell me he can look at a woman like that and speak to her exactly the same way as he does a wookie?
Cool might be enough for some people, but am I wrong for wanting my leading men to be sexy too?
I know men have gotten in trouble of late for wanting their leading ladies to be sexy, which is ridiculous, as far as I’m concerned. Part of what makes Hollywood magical is that the people are prettier than we are, the interactions more sensuous, giving us all a better, more interesting version of the world to emotionally invest in. And it seems that collectively, the writers at Disney took one look at that hot hallway scene between Han and Leia in Return of the Jedi and said, “That’ll be enough of that.”
Because this is definitely a decision from on high. It’s not the actors.
Temura Morrison is a fine actor and has always done right by this character (and the multitude of clones), so he isn’t the problem here. It’s the material. The script. The direction.
The question is why? Was it intentional, even? I suspect it was.
Consider the sexy, smoldering Kylo Ren (played by Adam Driver), who inspired terabytes of Reylo fanfiction. Even he was turned into a platonic guy friend by Disney’s writers. In re-watching the sequel trilogy in its entirety, I honestly believe that the sexiness of Kylo Ren was entirely due to Adam Driver’s performance, and not at all intended by the writers.
I’d bet anything there was nothing in that script prompting sexual tension between Kylo and Rey in their first meeting, and certainly not in their last. We can thank Adam Driver for rising above the material and giving shippers everywhere something to drool over.
Boba Fett is similar to Kylo Ren in that he is sexy partly because of the menace and, yes, power, he radiates. As it should be.
Like all viewers, I’m hoping for a strong narrative arc and enjoyable individual episodes in The Book of Boba Fett. But just as strong is my hope that Boba Fett (ideally with help from Garsa) will bring sexy back to the Star Wars universe.
Because it’s not fair to ask Adam Driver to do everything.