Disney is touting its inclusion of a lightsaber-wielding heroine in “The Force Awakens,” according to a spokesperson, as part of an effort to add more female characters to the Star Wars universe.
During a White House summit on “gender bias” in media and toys, Tasia Filippatos, the Senior Vice President for Communications at Disney Consumer Products, spoke about the company’s line of products and what it is doing to make their content attuned to the diversity of girls.
During the panel, Filippatos brought up a photo of the Star Wars character “Rey” on the screen from The Force awakens as a sign of their new focus on girls.
“As you may have noticed, hopefully you did, the lead character in the Force Awakens was the lightsaber wielding Rae, a very strong empowered female heroine who really took the movie and the world by storm,” she said. “Let me just say, you know, that was purposeful, that was purposeful on Disney’s part and purposeful from the filmmaker’s perspective to make that lead character a strong empowered female.”
Filippatos also highlighted the upcoming Star Wars film “Rogue One” pointing out that Disney also put “very strong female as the lead.”
She explained that it was part of a bigger plan for more Star Wars movies and feeding the massive consumer product pipeline, pointing out that there were “tens of millions” of female Star Wars fans.
“Star Wars has always been one of those franchises that absolutely crossed gender – it covered all demographics,” Filippatos said. “But the product line, historically, has been very very boy focused and was very much geared towards boys despite the fact that these were characters that resonated very strongly with all parts of the population.”
She said that Disney focused on making the product line more reflective of the interest for women as well as men.
Filippatos defended Disney referring to the controversy over the lack of Rey toys when Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released, insisting that it was the result of Rey products selling “phenomenally well.”
Aggrieved Star Wars fans were upset by the lack of Rey toys, complaining about the problem with the hashtag #wheresrey.
“The good news is she sold phenomenally well. The bad news is that she sold phenomenally well,” she said, pointing out that Rey products were “very difficult to find” because of their popularity.
Disney acquired Lucasfilm and its Star Wars franchise in 2012 for $4 billion.