J.J. Abrams, Please Keep the Sex out of Star Wars

Dear J.J. Abrams,

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan of  your work.  I loved your Mission Impossible movies; got lost on the islands with the survivors as I watched Lost; sat on the edge of my seat as you ran us around New York dodging monsters in Cloverfield; and thought you had a fantastic and original homage to Spielberg with Super 8.

And then there’s Star Trek.

star-trek-into-darkness-poster1I know you got quite a bit of flack for your reboot of Star Trek, but I generally fall on the side of the assentors.  To put my thoughts on your reboot into context, I’m not a die-hard Trek fan, but I have been to a convention and stood in line for Marina Sirtis’ autograph.  I’ve read countless novels from the series, and have seen most episodes of every incarnation.  I loved what you did with the reboot because you took an old property in danger of fading away into irrelevance and breathed new life into it.  You and your writers figured out an ingenious way of wiping the board clean, creating a very Trekkian alternate timeline, and in the process you didn’t destroy everything that came before.   You made Trek cool again for a new generation.

I even liked the lens flares.

When the news came out that you would be taking the center chair for that other little space series, I was relieved.  I’d read of your love of Star Wars, and since I’m only a couple of years younger than you, thought that we could have even watched A New Hope in the same theater.  I feel like the property is in good hands, that you’ll do the series justice, and I wish you all the best with Star Wars, Episode 7.

And now, with Variety reporting that you have started filming, I have one huge heartfelt favor to ask – one Star Wars fan to another.

J.J. Abrams, please keep the sex out of Star Wars.

Let me go back to your Star Trek reboots to explain why I’m making this plea to you.  I know that Captain Kirk is a stud, but could you really only communicate that by having him hop out of bed with a pair of Caitian girls in Into Darkness?  (I had to look up their species – I’m not that big of a fan!)  I know that sex sells, and Alice Eve is certainly attractive, but did we really need Carole Marcus modeling her underpants?  Just how did that scene propel the story forward?  And everyone knows that Orion slave girls are a desirable commodity in the Star Trek universe, but did we really have to have a shirtless James T. and his green-skinned classmate monkeying around in the dorm room in your first Trek film?  What did that do to help us understand Kirk’s character arc that couldn’t have been done in a less TMZ way?

In case you are tempted to throw off my request as just another prude playing the part, I need to remind you that the Star Trek movies were at least partially aimed at kids.  And while the argument can be made that Trek is the more adult series, I posit that the same argument cannot be made about Star Wars.

xwingPerhaps it is because George Lucas saw the huge profit potential of aiming his series at children, but Star Wars has always been about the kids in the audience, with adults enjoying being along for the ride. This is one reason why my generation – who loved the original trilogy – generally dislikes the prequels: the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks (who my kids LOVE, but I can’t stand); the less than stellar performances by key-demographic-hitting child actor Jake Lloyd (I blame Lucas’s hubris as a director for that); and the general emphasis given to special effects over story and character development.  But Lucas made these films to entertain the entire family, not as films that push boundaries and create controversy, and he made them for primarily for the kids of the generation, not for the generations that came before and want the movies to scratch their own itches.  The films have earned over $12,000,000,000 in toy sales, for heaven’s sake!  And while I know plenty of 40 year old fans have their toy collections, my guess is that most of those toys were bought for kids.

Am I really the only film lover who has grown tired of directors taking movies that are hyper-marketed to kids and sexing them up for absolutely no reason whatsoever?   The worst offender in this regard has to be Michael Bay and his muddled and confounding Transformer movies, with the masturbation jokes, robots with testes, and the long lingering shots of Megan Fox and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  

But I digress.  Let me leave behind the giant transforming alien robots and return to a galaxy far, far away.

Purists will undoubtedly bring up the infamous princess Leia metallic bikini in Return of the Jedi as a counterargument.  Yes, it was bare skin on a Star Wars screen, but here’s the big difference:  in this case Leia’s wardrobe pushed the story forward.  Leia’s willingness to wear the bikini demonstrated that the character was willing to undergo abject humiliation – not for the rebellion, but to help save the man she loved.  leiaIt humanized an otherwise rather cold and difficult character.  Given, I could be totally off base here.  Maybe Lucas only added the bikini to titillate his largely teenage male audience, of which I was one.  But even if that is the case, the choice made sense in the context of the story, and the character wasn’t simply objectified and sexualized.  Leia maintained her strength and grace through the entire opening act of the film, in spite of the wardrobe.  Thankfully, Lucas never showed us Han and Leia rolling around in whatever the Millennium Falcon used for a sack, and we never saw a buff Luke Skywalker tearing off his shirt to show off his jedi areolas while training with Yoda.

So, Mr. Abrams, please avoid the temptation make Star Wars sexy to appeal to the older kids and adults trying to relive the past.  Please respect that there are those of us of your generation, with families like yours, who want to take our families to watch Star Wars and and not have to explain why two of the characters are naked in bed together, or why they are stripping down to their underwear.  Our kids are getting way too much exposure to too many things much too early as it is.

Please, Mr. Abrams, allow Star Wars to remain a safe haven!

And if that makes me a prude, then guess what?  There are lots and lots and lots of other prudish parents out there who feel the same way.  Guaranteed.

And by the way, if you happen to talk to Michael Bay, will you ask him to please cut it out?  I’d like to take my kids to see Transformer movies, too.

Sincerely,

Nate Fleming
Author of Thimblerig’s Ark

Thimblerig's Ark Cover Art

 

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11 thoughts on “J.J. Abrams, Please Keep the Sex out of Star Wars

  1. Giving the fact that Star Wars is owned Disney now, I don’t think any sexual content would be worse than Pirates of the Caribbean or the Marvel movies made under Disney (which are mostly aimed at Teenagers as well). I too would like the sex to stay in Star Trek as it seems that Star Trek has an older audience,(even though I’ve met a few kids who’ve watched it). Having said that, I’m not too concerned about it. I’m more concerned about the implementation of the story.

    • True enough, Kitten Tales. The story is a HUGE deal – and here’s hoping they’ve put together a good one. It would just be a real shame if they excluded children by having unnecessary body shots, or implied romps.

  2. I could not have agreed possibly more. My brain is quite literally plagued by sexual imagery in which, for the most part, exposure is all but inevitable. The unnecessary pseudo-sex scenes in some of my favorite films such as Iron Man and Star Trek were so casual, fast, funny, and/or “clean”, that they hardly bothered me, and I wish they had. For this third generation of Star Wars films, it would be generally appalling if sex was suddenly a part of the series after so long. Thanks for taking this seriously. The world today is all about sex, to keep it nicely…and, though I am a huge Star Wars fan, I will not support these new films if it goes in such an unnecessary direction. Straight up.

    • Thanks, JnA! I really hope that this isn’t even on the drawing board for them – esp with Abrams reportedly being somewhat of a purist when it comes to SW. However, who knows what things are being thrown around in the meetings, and there is undoubtedly some executive out there trying to figure out how to appeal to the older kids as well as the younger. Hopefully the enormous success of the squeaky clean Harry Potter movies will be a big enough influence that they won’t try to take it that way.

  3. Hear hear! I agree, keep it as a family movie. But there are so many things to be nervous about with Star Wars being redone without Lucas really being involved…this is just one of many. I’m nervous but also excited to see where it goes.

    • The issue is that so many SW stories outside the films have gone in so many different directions – even to the point of the horror novels. But my guess is that Abrams will keep it clean, and not take it too far out of the standard set by the movies that came before.

      • I definitely hope so too! I did have a lot of faith with him in Star Wars and did like the Trek reboots, but I was really annoyed to see the Carole Marcus scene because it made absolutely no sense. I actually wrote a blog post on Leia in the slave bikini at one point and how it’s not as gratuitous as people would like to believe. Anyway, I’m still hopeful and optimistic. Since he is such a big fan, bigger fan of Wars than Trek, then I think we’ll be okay.

  4. From your blog to J.J.’s eyes.
    My boys are teens and into Clone Wars on Netflix and I would love to take them to see SW Ep. VII in a theater without them seeing something that i am not even ready for them to see.

  5. Reblogged this on Thimblerig's Ark and commented:

    Here we are May 4th, the last one before we get the chance to see what J.J. Abrams does with our beloved galaxy far, far away. And in honor of the big day, I decided to repost an open letter I wrote to Mr. Abrams last year, asking him to keep Star Wars as innocent as it has always been.

    Please read and enjoy, “J.J. Abrams, Please Keep The Sex Out Of Star Wars”… the reposting.

  6. Pingback: Thimblerig’s Spoilerific Thoughts on Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens | Thimblerig's Ark

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