Parent objections to “Slave Leia” toys

This story should be called “Man Living in a Cave for 30 Years Takes Daughters to Target.” Or maybe “Man Projects Sexual Fantasy Onto Children.”

SlaveLeiaBlackSeriesFox 29 News in Philadelphia ran a remarkable story on 13 July 2015, entitled “Star Wars Action Figure Has Parents Furious.” A man shopping in the Deptford, Pennsylvania, Target store with his two daughters saw the Hasbro Black Series 6″ action figure for Princess Leia in her “slave” outfit—basically a bikini with a chain around her neck—from Return of the Jedi.

He told the news station, “That’s pretty inappropriate. I got two daughters I don’t need seeing that crap.” Other parents interviewed by the news station were also apparently “furious”:

  • “It’s a little indecent. A little more clothing would have helped,” Eugenia Mirica said.
  • “It’s just a bit much for a child. So, no, I probably wouldn’t give this to my 4-year-old and maybe not an 8-year-old,” Tiffany Mahan said.
  • “It’s true to the scene, but I don’t know if I would purchase this for my girls,” added Allison Degarmo.

Return of the Jedi itself was released in 1983 with a “PG” rating but heavily marketed to kids (Ewoks, anyone?) during the conservative Reagan 1980s. Yet there were no complaints at that time about Leia’s bikini on the real-life Carrie Fisher.

In the last thirty-two years, that “golden bikini” has become a pop culture force unto itself. Yes, to a large degree that force is adult male sexual fantasy. This was even exploited on the hit prime-time network television show Friends almost twenty years ago: “The One With The Princess Leia Fantasy,” which aired on 19 September 1996.

BarbieBeachDollThe parents who object to this toy—and according to Target this is the only complaint they have ever received since the action figure was released in 2013—are viewing the toy within this sexual framework. Young children, as I myself was when I saw Return of the Jedi in the theater in 1983, do not have this framework. Children see Princess Leia in that outfit within the context of the movie plot: she is a prisoner of a bad guy (Jabba the Hutt), who she eventually kills. The chain has a purpose in the movie—it is the hallmark of a prisoner, not sexual perversion.

To children, the golden bikini worn by Princess Leia is no more sexual than any of the bikinis worn by Barbie or other dolls of that ilk. It should be noted, however, that the bikini worn by the Leia action figure is permanently attached to her body. Unlike Barbie, Leia will never be naked.

Does Barbie’s ability to be rendered completely nude (albeit anatomically incorrect) have Target shoppers similarly “furious”? Or is it simply that Barbie does not turn them on as much as Princess Leia?

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