Fanservice vs. Objectification: Why Shirtless Thor Wins and Slave Leia Loses

So let’s talk about Slave Leia.

I know, I know. Star Wars fandom has certainly voiced its share of opinions about Slave (or Huttslayer, if you prefer) Leia over the past several weeks. From the “concerned” dad at Target to Amy Schumer’s GQ photo shoot, at times it felt like 1983 all over again. And honestly, during most of the debate I felt like sitting back and yawning. Not because the topic isn’t pertinent to me — I can rant about Slave Leia with the best of them — but because I’m so bored of it. It’s like being forced to sit through American History 101 when I should be leading graduate level seminars.

This is not another column all about why Slave Leia is or isn’t bad. This is a column about objectification vs. fanservice, and why one is bad and the other is harmless fun. It’s about why I can swoon like a schoolgirl when Thor takes his shirt off, yet make the biggest side-eye when Carol Marcus strips down to her underwear in Star Trek Into Darkness. It’s about the differences between men and women in science fiction and fantasy, entertainment in general, and how we still have a long, long way to go.

Continue reading