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This professor ranked all the Star Wars movies based on screen time for its women

Rebecca Harrison re-cut all the Star Wars movies to remove the men's sequences, and what she found wasn't pretty

Ujjainee Roy @UjjaineeRoy 1 June 2018, 3:07 PM
Star Wars has a problem

Star Wars has a problem Image: Twitter

Welcome to 2018, where Morgan Freeman is a perv, and Star Wars is sexist. Dr Rebecca Harrison β€” a lecturer in Film and Television Studies at the University of Glasgow recently undertook the incredible task of checking Star Wars for gender bias, on basis of the screen time allotted to female characters.

And what she found may just make you exit the fandom.

She re-cut all the movies of the franchise to eliminate the men, and found that just 15 per cent of time is devoted to women in the 1977 film A New Hope which is the first film in the original Star Wars trilogy. Though the recent outings fare better with The Last Jedi being on top at 43 per cent of screen time.

But most of the recent Star Wars outings have had female leads β€” from Rey (Daisy Ridley) in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi to Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, so it's not exactly a fair measure.

Dr Harrison posted her research on Twitter, and mentioned that Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi (2017) is the only saving grace, having had equal screen time for women and having passed the Bechdel test more than once.

Bechdel test is used to determine if in a work of fiction featuring two women, women can talk about anything else other than a man.

"I think the franchise has historically had an enormous gender problem, and a race one, too. The fact there are so few women with speaking parts in the original trilogy means Leia (Carrie Fisher) has to do all the work (although of course Carrie Fisher is marvellous) and the prequels are actually worse for women than films made in the '70s and '80s! Leia has far more autonomy than PadmΓ© , for example, which shows progress is slow and not necessarily straightforward," Dr Harrison tells Mashable.

Harrison also spoke about her definition of screen time for women, confirming that she has only included female characters with speaking parts, who say something and contribute to the story.

"If a woman with a speaking part is on screen and not speaking, and neither is a man, I’ve kept the footage. Consequently, you get a lot of reaction shots of Leia or Jyn not doing much but being the only character in the frame. When men are speaking and a woman is on screen, I’ve made a value judgement about whether she’s central to the action (or not) at that moment in the story," she adds.

The Disney-era Star Wars outings have shown substantial progress in race and gender, including the latest Solo: A Star Wars Story. "It's really important that in the last four films there has been an increase in major speaking parts for women of colour, with Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran) in The Last Jedi, and Val (Thandie Newton) and Enfys Nest (Erin Kellyman) in Solo," said Harrison.

"I hope that trend continues because the Galaxy can't keep being populated by white women who all look like clones of Leia," the professor adds.

Read more:

Being the first dark-skinned Star Wars leading woman is both great and awful: Thandie Newton

25 thoughts a Star Wars virgin had while watching The Last Jedi

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