The nerd world is still mourning the death of Carrie Fisher. As an actress, and a writer, she was part of our lives — Princess Leia Organa was the first movie character I ever truly wanted to BE.
And I'm not alone. Carrie Fisher had such an impact on so many of us that there's now an online movement for the "Star Wars" heroine to be granted the highest honor: to be turned into a Disney princess.
The Change.org petition, which currently had over 35,000 signatures, calls Princess Leia to become an official Disney princess:
"After the tragic loss of Carrie Fisher, we feel that it is only fitting for Disney to do away with the rule that an official Disney princess must be animated and make Leia a full-fledged princess. This would be a wonderful way to remember Carrie and a welcoming to one of Disney's new properties that is beloved by millions."
The creator of the petition, Cody Christenson, is a father of five daughters. He told GeekExchange "I think that Leia is a really strong, positive, awesome role model for my girls, and she would make a great addition."
Well, I’m a lifelong "Star Wars" fan, proud nerd, and raging feminist — and I hope Leia NEVER becomes a Disney princess.
Leia *is* an awesome role model — but it barely matters.
I have such complicated feelings about the Princess franchise in general, it’s insane. One one hand, young girls freaking LOVE them — and wouldn’t it be awesome to have them exposed to such a kickass character, like Leia, early in their lives?
On the other hand, have you been around very young, Princess-obsessed kids lately? Most of the time, they don’t even know that these characters come from movies!
They know Belle, Jasmine, and Ariel through Disney princess merchandising only — they don’t realize that, in the original stories, Snow White died, and Mulan pretended to be a man. All they know is that the toys are pretty, and have lovely dresses. That’s it.
I don’t want that for Leia. It’s weird enough that grown adults only think of her in the gold bikini.
So you could argue that far from exposing young girls to a strong role model, turning Leia into an official Disney princess could strip her of her story. And that’s the thing we love best about her.
There are Disney princesses, and then there are Disney Princesses (TM). It would be wrong to make her the latter.
But not every Disney princess becomes a Disney Princess (TM). The current lineup of Official Princesses is Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora ("Sleeping Beauty"), Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana ("The Princess and the Frog"), Rapunzel ("Tangled") and Merida ("Brave").
No Elsa or Anna from "Frozen," even though they’re both royalty.
No Sofia the First.
Tinker Bell used to be a Princess, but she was demoted in 2005. Sorry, Tink.
The Disney Princess (TM) pantheon is an exclusive one.
So yeah, Princess Leia IS a princess. And now that Disney owns her character, she’s a Disney princess. But being a Disney Princess (TM) means that a character has to FIT IN with the existing “Princess mythology.”
In no world does Leia fit into that mythology. And that's exactly why we like her so much.
Leia is a leader and a rebel. It's hard to imagine the woman who strangled Jabba the Hut smiling out from a plastic dinner plate alongside Cinderella, you know?
For Leia to enter the Princess canon, Disney would have to completely change her character.
We’ve already seen this happen with Merida — in “Brave,” Merida is disobedient and bold. In the Princess world, she’s smart but docile; outdoorsy, but not threateningly so. She even got a thinner, sexier makeover to fit in with the other Princesses.
I don’t want that to happen to Leia.
To make Princess Leia a Disney Princess (TM), they’d have to erase everything that makes her awesome. Disney would sand away the fierceness, the determination, and the tragedy from her story to make her more palatable to young kids (and their parents). I don’t want General Organa reduced to a branded tutu and a song about friendship. I want the complex, asskicking character who so inspired me in my own childhood.
It's not the tribute Carrie Fisher would have wanted.
I know; on the surface, it seems like a nice move. Disney throws a big party, and coronates Princess Leia — inducting her into an elite club of Princesses, ready to be idolized by little girls the world over.
That's why it's the wrong thing to do.
Like millions of fans, I only know Carrie's work — and through that work, I’m pretty sure that being crowned an official Disney princess isn’t the tribute to her life that she had in mind.
Carrie liked Leia — but she didn’t like her because she was a princess. “I liked that she was feisty,” she told Rolling Stone. “I like how she killed Jabba the Hut. That’s my favorite thing she did.”
She loved that Leia was an awesome, strong character who got shit done. Carrie was herself strong — and brilliant, and mouthy, and branded “difficult” by Hollywood for years because of it. We should look up to Leia — but we should also honor the real woman behind the ear-buns.
Turning Leia into a Disney Princess (TM) would fundamentally change her character — but it would also change how people think about Carrie, too. It would flatten her out, change her from a real person into a caricature. That does her a disservice.
So if Leia isn't going to become an official Disney princess, what do we do instead? How do we turn her into the awesome role model young girls so desperately need?
Let’s make sure there are more proud, fierce, heroic female characters for the new Star Wars films.
Let’s have as many Leia toys as there ever were Han Solo action figures.
Let’s have a General Leia Organa character welcoming little girls to Disneyland.
And let's show ALL the kids in our lives — sons and daughters alike — the original "Star Wars" films.
Another generation of proud nerds is just what this world needs.