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.
I 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.
Perhaps 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. It 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.
Author of Thimblerig’s Ark