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These never before seen Return of the Jedi images show us the faces of the female Rebellion fighter pilot

12.12.2012by:

It never occurred to me that there were no female fighter pilots in the original STAR WARS trilogy. STAR WARS has always had such a range of creatures and alien races that it never clicked that we didn't see a single human female fighting for the Rebellion or the Empire. In fact, it was not until THE PHANTOM MENACE that we actually saw a woman, actress Celia Imrie, piloting a ship during battle.

Some recently uncovered images from RETURN OF THE JEDI reveal that there were actually three female Rebellion pilots whose scenes were cut from the film for unknown reasons. Some fans theorize it was because of the delicate nature of audiences in 1983 who would not have been prepared to see women die in battle sequences. One of them was kept in the movie but had her voice dubbed over by a man! Now, I know we have come a long way in terms of women's rights in this country, but in 1983 were people still that misogynistic?

In either case, it is nice to know that women in science fiction are in a much better place today than they were 30 years ago. It may not be perfect, but just consider the list of strong female characters from shows such as BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, V, LOST, HAVEN, FRINGE, THE X-FILES, REVOLUTION, FIREFLY, and more.

Take a look below at these lost characters. While they may never have been major protagonists, any one of them could have been the next Wedge Antilles.

Extra Tidbit: Dang, that one is an old lady! Maybe they were cut because that means the Empire was defeated in part by a retiree!
Source: BuzzFeed

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10:15PM on 12/12/2012
It isn't that there were no female pilots in the movies that bothers me (and should bother others), because... who cares.

It is that there WERE female pilots and they were cut. Meaning, they had the thought to film it and then went, "Nah... let's get rid of them."

You can say that it was accurate of the demographic make up of pilots, but if that was the reason why... they wouldn't have filmed them in the first place. Why film them at all only to cut them? That is what makes it odd and off
It isn't that there were no female pilots in the movies that bothers me (and should bother others), because... who cares.

It is that there WERE female pilots and they were cut. Meaning, they had the thought to film it and then went, "Nah... let's get rid of them."

You can say that it was accurate of the demographic make up of pilots, but if that was the reason why... they wouldn't have filmed them in the first place. Why film them at all only to cut them? That is what makes it odd and off putting.
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11:03PM on 12/12/2012
Nah, it shouldn't bother anyone. Heck, it hasn't bothered anyone for nearly 30 years.

Lots of things are filmed in the course of a movie that don't make the final cut. It's why we have deleted scenes as extras on DVDs. Some things work, some things just don't.

The demographic make up of pilots is only one factor, I've listed several others below.

But another factor frankly I think is that a female fighter pilot to a 1983 audience would have played campy or comical. Few would have
Nah, it shouldn't bother anyone. Heck, it hasn't bothered anyone for nearly 30 years.

Lots of things are filmed in the course of a movie that don't make the final cut. It's why we have deleted scenes as extras on DVDs. Some things work, some things just don't.

The demographic make up of pilots is only one factor, I've listed several others below.

But another factor frankly I think is that a female fighter pilot to a 1983 audience would have played campy or comical. Few would have taken the notion seriously.

You can see one example of that here:

[link]

And you can see another example of that with Colonel Deering in the late 70s version of Buck Rogers, all decked out in metallic spandex.

My guess is they tried it, and in 1983 it played comically. I can already hear Johnny Carson mocking Maude as a fighter pilot, who was in the Holiday Special incidentally.

I think it's only off putting to younger generations who unfortunately seem to see nearly everything through the prisms of racism, misogyny, sexism and homophobia. Few people thought in these excessively sensitive terms 30 years ago.

I think that if these scenes were reintroduced today they would play much better than they would have 30 years ago. So I would welcome their return.

But sensibilities of audiences change, and if you think that folks 30 years from now won't be calling out the sensibilities of today's films, you're in for a real surprise.
9:53PM on 12/12/2012

Nerd Alert

I think some of this footage was one of the blu-ray special features. Also, I remember reading some of the battle scenes of the b-wing starfighters got cut because they couldn't do them realistically on film, which is why you barely see them in the final battle. Just another possible reason why these scenes didn't make the final cut.
I think some of this footage was one of the blu-ray special features. Also, I remember reading some of the battle scenes of the b-wing starfighters got cut because they couldn't do them realistically on film, which is why you barely see them in the final battle. Just another possible reason why these scenes didn't make the final cut.
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9:10PM on 12/12/2012

Food for Thought

Here's Network Television's depiction of female fighter pilots in science fiction circa 1978.

[link]

Here's Network Television's depiction of female fighter pilots in science fiction circa 1978.

[link]

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4:46PM on 12/12/2012

I Get it.

It's doesn't even have to be misogynistic. Just that the gravity of the situation. People a woman, specially at that time dying a horrible death, would be considered a bigger deal. In fact it's almost the opposite. Men are expendable, it's accepted that men die, specially in war, and if you are going to kill off a bunch of extra's a women's death would carry more weight. Now that is where the mistake started. Keeping them in there would have actually probably helped more. Specially considering
It's doesn't even have to be misogynistic. Just that the gravity of the situation. People a woman, specially at that time dying a horrible death, would be considered a bigger deal. In fact it's almost the opposite. Men are expendable, it's accepted that men die, specially in war, and if you are going to kill off a bunch of extra's a women's death would carry more weight. Now that is where the mistake started. Keeping them in there would have actually probably helped more. Specially considering how they established the Empire as an Alien and Women hating force (Racist and Sexist). This is why horror movies always start off some time in opening credits with a some women/girls death. 20-30 years later they finally started to use that to better affect.
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4:13PM on 12/12/2012

The word misogynist is grossly overused and misapplied

Mysogynist? Come on.

There's a couple of other ways of looking at this without resorting to the fashionable phraseology of the day.

First, the dog fight scenes in the Original Trilogy were modeled after WWII dogfights. How many female fighter pilots were there during WWII? That's right; a big fat zero.

Second, Return of the Jedi was released in 1983. How many female fighter pilots were around in the 80s? That's right; another big fat zero. Was the 40s and 80s era Air Force
Mysogynist? Come on.

There's a couple of other ways of looking at this without resorting to the fashionable phraseology of the day.

First, the dog fight scenes in the Original Trilogy were modeled after WWII dogfights. How many female fighter pilots were there during WWII? That's right; a big fat zero.

Second, Return of the Jedi was released in 1983. How many female fighter pilots were around in the 80s? That's right; another big fat zero. Was the 40s and 80s era Air Force misogynistic? I'm sure someone will make the case.

In fact the first female fighter pilot didn't see combat until 1995. [link]

So the image of female fighter pilots just weren't around. Sure female fighter pilots are wonderful. But prior to 1995, how many women actually had interest in and pursued the vocation? I don't know the answer to that, but The Force tells me it's probably not too many.

Furthermore you have to take into account Lucas' vision of a "used universe." It may not seem like it today, but in the late 70s/early 80s Star Wars was considered a bit "realistic & gritty" because of its revolutionary "used universe" visuals in science fiction. Some folks may not like this, but the reality was that in 1983 a female fighter pilot simply wasn't realistic. The audience would have been rolling their eyes with incredulity, females and all.

Lastly you also have to take into account the merchandising. Certain things were done in the films for merchandising purposes. cough *ewoks* cough. Star Wars at the time was considered primarily a boys thing, and no 10 year old boy at the time would have wanted their parents to buy female fighter pilot action figures, they simply wouldn't have sold. And no girl would have preferred a female fighter pilot action figure over Barbi or even Princess Leia for the rare cases. Folks may not like these statements now, but that's the way it was back then. Hatred of women just wasn't part of the equation.

Don't get me wrong, female empowerment fantasies can be entertaining as all heck even when Keira Knightly is sword fighting a 400 pound brute. But jumping to the ridiculous conclusion that somehow hatred of women must have been involved in the decision making process is preposterous, particularly when Mon Mothma - a woman - leads the Rebellion.

If undies are really up in a bunch over it, why not petition Lucas to release a new edition of the Original Trilogy with these female fighter pilots put back in? That way, folks can then bitch about how Lucas is raping their childhoods by making the changes. Fun for all.

Besides, what was wrong with the male fighter pilots? Are you misandrous or something?
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4:34PM on 12/12/2012
You mean besides the famed WWII pilots Lydia Litvyak or Yekaterina Budanova? Each credited with a dozen aerial victories over male Nazi pilots?
You mean besides the famed WWII pilots Lydia Litvyak or Yekaterina Budanova? Each credited with a dozen aerial victories over male Nazi pilots?
4:37PM on 12/12/2012
Wow. No to pretty much everything you said. I was actually going to make some counter-arguments, but you lost all credibility with even mentioning misandry.
Wow. No to pretty much everything you said. I was actually going to make some counter-arguments, but you lost all credibility with even mentioning misandry.
4:42PM on 12/12/2012
Good points.

But remember, Star Wars was made primarily for an American audience, not a Russian one.

I can't read minds, but I'm willing to bet that rather than hatred of Lydia Litvyak or Yekaterina Budanova playing a role in the production, it's probably safe to say that they never even crossed the filmmaker's minds.

There was no WikiPedia in 77'-83' after all, no ever-present Internet, and as a result folks weren't as globally minded as they are today.

Lydia Litvyak or
Good points.

But remember, Star Wars was made primarily for an American audience, not a Russian one.

I can't read minds, but I'm willing to bet that rather than hatred of Lydia Litvyak or Yekaterina Budanova playing a role in the production, it's probably safe to say that they never even crossed the filmmaker's minds.

There was no WikiPedia in 77'-83' after all, no ever-present Internet, and as a result folks weren't as globally minded as they are today.

Lydia Litvyak or Yekaterina Budanova may be famed, but in 77'-83' it's doubtful that the majority of Americans had ever even heard of them.

All I'm really saying is that there isn't anything nefarious going on here.
4:45PM on 12/12/2012
Yes. Use of the word misandry is not nearly as fashionable as mysogyny these days.

Although its usage was a bit tongue in cheek.
Yes. Use of the word misandry is not nearly as fashionable as mysogyny these days.

Although its usage was a bit tongue in cheek.
3:59PM on 12/12/2012
And for the record, I would LOVE it if the next Star Wars flick had a female lead. And not a Princess or Jedi, but a fighter pilot, smuggler, or bounty hunter.
And for the record, I would LOVE it if the next Star Wars flick had a female lead. And not a Princess or Jedi, but a fighter pilot, smuggler, or bounty hunter.
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3:57PM on 12/12/2012
Wait...isn't the third one the pilot who crashes into the Super Star Destroyer and fries Admiral Piett?
Wait...isn't the third one the pilot who crashes into the Super Star Destroyer and fries Admiral Piett?
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8:41PM on 12/12/2012
I was about to say the same thing, pretty sure it is.
I was about to say the same thing, pretty sure it is.
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