Before Celebration Anaheim, it was cool to be a fangirl. Last Thursday morning, Kathleen Kennedy made it respectable.
I was already super excited for The Force Awakens panel, which opened Celebration Anaheim in the most explosive manner possible. But I didn’t realize how excited I was about the future of the franchise until I saw Kennedy walk onstage in a Star Wars t-shirt. And not just any shirt, but the new Her Universe lightsaber shirt that debuted at Celebration, which she purchased with her own money because she wanted something to wear for the panel. She rocked it with a white blazer, and you’re stupid if you don’t think millions of women are going to copy that look.
This is a huge deal. Kennedy has been a fixture in Hollywood for decades, and George Lucas entrusted her ahead of lots and lots of qualified individuals to take over the reigns of Star Wars. One of her first actions as head of Lucasfilm was to decide that the franchise would move forward as one story while respecting its vast history. She’s a hugely respected producer and brings a ton of credibility as Lucas’s successor. I’m more confident than ever in her ability to help tell great stories and be a steward for this varied, diverse, wonderful fandom.
The most important thing isn’t that Kennedy herself is a woman, but rather the fact that she accepts this fandom is so diverse. She understands it, and embraces it. She insisted on purchasing a Her Universe shirt with her own money just so she could support the business. During The Force Awakens panel she specifically mentioned the lack of female representation in the franchise’s history, and assured everyone there would be lots more women characters going forward. I can’t overemphasize how important it is to have the panel host, director J.J. Abrams, and Kennedy discuss the negative reaction to the first cast photo and say they’ve heard those arguments and agree with them. And Kennedy isn’t someone merely looking to take advantage of an untapped demographic, or bow down to “the feminists”. She’s part of that demographic, and wants to rectify the lazy, incorrect assumption that women and girls don’t like Star Wars. (If you believe that, you obviously weren’t in attendance at Celebration Anaheim, because women and girls were everywhere.) As far as Kennedy is concerned, everyone likes Star Wars, and she wants to make sure they feel welcomed and represented in fandom and the franchise.
I’ve never felt more comfortable with the future of Star Wars than after that panel. You could feel the excitement in the air just watching from the overflow room, not to mention the unadulterated happiness at seeing BB-8, the new cast, the old cast, the new stormtroopers, and finally, the teaser trailer. The crowd was so enthusiastic they had to show the teaser twice. I laughed, I cried, I got goosebumps, I clutched hands with my neighbors, I kissed my husband. And in the back of my mind I was thinking thank you, Kathleen Kennedy. Thank you for understanding that Star Wars is for everyone. Thank you for making us so happy with the greatest teaser trailer I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Thank you for agreeing to be a part of the Star Wars family. Thank you for making it accepted and respected to be a fangirl. Thank you for being someone I can look up to.
Thank you for helping make Celebration Anaheim the best one yet.