Defenders Of The Gold Bikini 2: The Fempire Doesn’t Strike Back


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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34 Responses

  1. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    You know, I agree with everything you say about both the gold bikini and Padme’s death, which never made much sense. I favor the idea that she dies from injuries from Anakin. I also think postpartum depression, which is a thing, may have had a role.

    And yeah, sometimes the thing some people want to get lathered up about don’t really make any sense. But there’s no progress without some discomfort, which can make it hard to calibrate things.Report

  2. Avatar Aaron David says:

    My uncle died young, when my mother was a girl. This broke my grandmother in half emotionally, leaving her a cold, bitter and broken woman. She hated my father, as he was a bit like my uncle, a bit like many other men of his time. I don’t remember getting hugs, or kisses, or any of the grandmotherly things from her before her death, of myocardial infarction. Or, as the doctor put it to my mother, of not wanting to live anymore. So, yes, I do believe that someone can die of the loss of great love.

    As far as critics go, there I would say you are spot on. We have moved past the point of actual scholarship in these fields, due to needing so may warm bodies to fill the time made available to read online due to efficiencies in the workforce, or simply from the privilege of living in a post-scarcity society, or… I don’t know. But the misplaced anger that you so ably show here is starting to wear patterns in the carpet of feminism, as it circles in on itself.Report

  3. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I’m with Doctor Jay, Postpartum Depression would have been much better. She has the twins either while in hiding, or goes into hiding with them immediately after. And, well, they are in hiding, not always a lot of opportunity for good mental health care. Maybe she’s with the kids for a few months, long enough for Leia to remember mom’s sad smile, then she drops the kids off with a neighbor after tucking a note in the diaper bag to contact Bail Organa for help, then she succumbs to the condition (maybe they find her body, maybe they don’t).

    Alternatively, maybe Anakin did beat her and left her for dead, except she lived, had the twins, went into hiding, and succumbed to her injuries months later.

    So many ways it could have been done.Report

    • Postpartum depression isn’t fatal. Sorry, not trying to be nitpicky just want to keep that accurate since part of my issue with Padme’s death in the first place is that it wasn’t medically accurate.

      I totally agree there are so many ways they could have done it better, and with a lot more meaning. Thanks for reading!Report

  4. Avatar Pinky says:

    There is a Venn diagram with three circles, Successful, Hated, and Terrible, and in the center are the Star Wars prequels. Everyone who was older than 8 when they came out hates everything about them. It almost seems wrong to single out any one problem with them.Report

  5. I always subscribed to the theory that Anakin drained her life and was able to do so because of their connection (w/ an assist from Palpatine). There’s a moment in the movie where his heartbeat stops and then resumes and she dies. That heavily implies that she either gave her life for him or he took it. And somehow the Emperor knows she’s dead.

    Nah, she didn’t die of a broken heart. She was murdered.Report

    • Avatar George Turner in reply to Michael Siegel says:

      In my Sith rant I concluded that Yoda killed her, though Obi Wan certainly helped by having her traipse around a volcano sucking down noxious fumes as she watched him slicing Anakin to pieces.

      Maybe Padmé’s lungs were fried, her bloodstream beset with a witch’s brew of inorganic compounds, or is it more likely that Master Yoda, suspiciously close at hand, was using his unnatural powers to solve a problem confronting his almighty Jedi Order? He sure didn’t have a problem with keeping the younglings without the consent of either parent now, did he? His new primary funding source got first pick, as money, power, and influence are always in strange agreement with Jedi decisions. So Senator Organa opted for the girl, raising her as a princess, filling her head with more Jedi lies, using her as a mule to run weapons and intelligence. The other of Anakin’s precious children was dumped in the desert. I guess Master Yoda couldn’t find a buyer. Watto must have retired to Corellia.

      The epic is so badly written that it makes more sense if you flip the good guys and bad guys.Report

    • I would go for that – that there was some connection there possibly aided and abetted by the Emporer, but as Jeong’s original piece pointed out, if they had that kind of power, couldn’t they have sensed Leia’s presence? Couldn’t they have snuffed ObiWan on Tattoine and Yoda on Dagobah? Something’s just off with the physics of it all.

      Thanks for reading!!Report

  6. Avatar North says:

    Good article and comments, though bashing Anakin and Padme in the prequels is like shooting fish in a barrel. Was there ever a less believable couple with less chemistry? When the droid wheeled out the “she has lost the will to live” line I heard an audible collective snort in the crowd from the theater I was in. Granted it was a nerdy and thus older crowd but damn.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to North says:

      Agreed. It’s hard to have a nuanced, politically informed opinion on something when my entire being is screaming in agony from observing the worst acting and worst script writing in the history of the human species.Report

      • Avatar Ozzy! in reply to veronica d says:

        These are not bad actors. Each and every one has tons of credits that prove it (maybe except Haiden, though he was quite admired in other roles. I’ll give you 10 year old Jake Lloyd).

        Sometimes it really is just is the script/director/editor.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to North says:

      I get that, but this is not so much me taking potshots at low hanging fruit, but setting up a comparison with the sexism of Padme’s death vs. the (IMO) non-sexism of the gold bikini, if that makes sense.Report

  7. Avatar S says:

    Hated though the official explanation for Padmé’s death may be, it is entirely within the realm of possibility, something you don’t admit because you would rather bash the Prequel Trilogy and the characters it focused on, and focus on an agenda that does women more harm than good.

    Between everything she was hit with in the last two days of her life – the death of the Republic, her mentor revealing himself as a tyrant, and learning of and falling victim to her husband’s atrocities – that is more than enough to kill a person. Many people in real life have lost the will to live over a whole lot less than what happened to Padmé in ROTS. The problem is not with how she died, but in the way it was handled – the major flaw of the Prequel Trilogy as a whole was its technical execution. It had nearly everything else it needed to succeed. (Compare this to the Sequel Trilogy, where the technical execution is literally the ONLY thing it has going for it…)

    But nope, for you it all comes down to how this clashes with your views as a feminist, rendering most of if not your entire argument void.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to S says:

      But nope, for you it all comes down to how this clashes with your views as a feminist, rendering most of if not your entire argument void.


      The ways in which it clashes with Kristin’s views as a feminist [1] have a lot to do with its failures of drama. “It can happen in real life” is rarely a good justification for story choices, not least of all because real life isn’t a story, and lots of bullshit that you’d never believe (much less artistically appreciate) happens in real life. All of the suggested options would have worked much better dramatically IMO. And it’s not like they would have been less realistic.[2]

      But also the idea that one should just be able to so completely divorce one’s political or ethical views from one’s film criticism is pretty blinkered in and of itself, because those views will also inform one’s sense of whether character motivations, behaviors, and reactions are plausible.

      And that last sort or realism is really the only kind of realism that matters for a series of movies about Space Fights involving Muppets with laser swords.

      [1] Which, for the record, I agree with, but even if I didn’t….Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to S says:

      Bullpucky they have. People do not just up and die because they have a raging case of the sadz. They fight to live – often for the sake of their children – in far far worse situations than what Padme had been through and they do it ALL the time. There are women giving birth right now who have suffered all kinds of abuse and atrocity, are hungry, scared, alone, in terrible situations, and they not only survive but they fight to survive. Some people get depressed and may waste away over time, but that is OVER TIME and not “welp guess I’ll keel over dead because the Republic has fallen”.

      Dying of a “broken heart” is a thing that happens (although it’s a misleading name) but it’s treatable and does not entail someone “losing the will to live.” The heart actually goes into spasm, it’s treatable, the robot would have detected something wrong instead of stating clearly that nothing was wrong with her, and is much more prevalent among postmenopausal women, which Padme was not.

      And while I do think that one of us is blinded by their personal agenda, I really do not think that person is me.Report

  8. Avatar pillsy says:

    This is a really good piece, and I have to say as much as I tried to resist, I have to say you aren’t wrong at all about a lot of (especially Online) “feminist criticism” of pop culture, both in terms of being exhausting and kind of alienating, and also on focusing excessively on superficial details.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine in reply to pillsy says:

      There is a lot to criticize about modern feminism, not the least of which is that they seem to have all but deliberately turned themselves into such a convenient demon (by being constantly exhausting and alienating, fighting all the wrong battles over all the dumbest things) that they have all but turned into a stereotypical boogeyman for the types of people who are on full display in the comments of this piece.Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Wait – I thought Padme dies from injuries inflicted by Anakin? (It’s been forever since I’ve seen the movie so I could be wrong, but I thought her being killed by domestic violence was a major plot point. But maybe I dreamed this?)Report

  10. Avatar Kolohe says:

    You have convinced me that the manner of Padme’s death is the worst thing about the prequel triology, when previously I’m not sure it was even in the top 5 for me.Report

  11. Avatar Cliff says:

    You spent that much time and energy into a *possible* reason why a fictional character died? Wow.Report

  12. Avatar Dark Matter says:

    [Anakin] strangled Padme and that thing alone very well could have been enough to kill her. She bravely hung on long enough to push those babies out and then succumbed to her Anakin-induced injuries.

    It seemed to me this was more or less what happened. It was force related and that means Anakin did it. Whether it was deliberate (in a moment of rage) or stupid (because he connected them and turned to the dark side) isn’t going to change who did it. The possibilities range from “strangled” to “she was connected to him so him getting burned alive and becoming a create of hate was traumatic to her” is beside the point.

    The Emperor, for all his deceit, didn’t typically go for bald face lies and he said, “in your anger you killed her”. Anakin believed it because to him it was believable… so maybe he knew more about him being stupid than we did.

    The part that made her a tool and not a decisive person in charge of her own destiny was Obi Wan sneaking on board her ship. The movie could have made her a lot stronger by having her invite Obi Wan aboard in a last ditch effort to save Anakin. The two of them try to sway him back to the Light Side, exactly as they did, and of course fail, but have it be her choice and not Obi Wan’s.Report

    • Right, but it was explained by “she just lost the will to live” and Sarah Jeong made a pretty good case in her original piece that that was actually what the writers intended. So that’s what I’m basing my conclusion on (I had thought up till reading that piece, that the Emporer did it to finish turning Anakin to the Dark Side).

      Like I mentioned in the piece I’d have very much loved to see the time spent on Anakin’s angst and prophetic dreams (on a short list of my least fave plot devices) and had more interaction between Obi-Wan and Padme. Agree that would have been much better.Report

      • Avatar blake in reply to Kristin Devine says:

        My kids’ll sometimes ask me if the SW movies are any good and I’ll say, “Yeah, there’s about 1 1/2 good movies there.” Heh.

        I didn’t know that there was any question whether Padme died of a broken heart. I thought the movie was really clear. It wasn’t well supported from a character standpoint, but that’s a separate issue.

        A topic like “domestic abuse” or rape is tricky to introduce into a kid’s movie. But it could’ve been done well, I think, if Lucas had stolen from the right well: Othello. Instead of being a whiny worm, Anakin should’ve been very successful in the Republic. Maybe kicked out of the Jedi order (hardly matters) and a very successful general, meanwhile studying the dark arts on the side.

        And as he’s getting more and more powerful, Palpatine is whispering in his ear that Padme and Obiwan have a thing going on. All the while he’s pulling strings to set Anakin and the Jedi against each other.

        The movies could’ve been more internally consistent this way, too. The Republic and Jedi Order already on their last legs—remember, they’re basically forgotten a mere 20 years later which is nothing in galactic time for something that maintained order for anywhere from 1-20 thousand years.

        Yeah, the real crime of the prequels is the missed opportunities.Report

  1. December 30, 2019

    […] From Kristin, we had her Veronica Mars posts and Defenders of the Gold Bikini. […]Report

  2. May 11, 2020

    […] So I finally got to see The Rise of Skywalker. You may recall in the first two installments of Defenders of the Gold Bikini, I wrote about how bizarre it is for me to see people constantly complaining about Princess Leia’s gold bikini as sexist while completely ignoring another problematic and IMO far more sexist element, Padme’s death “in childbirth”. […]Report

  3. July 27, 2020

    […] personally have written thousands of words on Star Wars, which isn’t even real. And yet I would roll my eyes and sigh at […]Report