I was thinking about Padme Amidala again this morning as my son swung his unlicensed Kylo Renesque light-up plastic sword we bought from a park vendor at last night’s fireworks. I’m not super pleased that his favorite characters are Darth Vader and Kylo Ren, two of the most whiny dudebros space has to offer, but I think it has a lot more to do with the cool masks than the elitist entitlement. To be fair, he doesn’t appear attached to any of the Star Wars humans, preferring droids and aliens, but still, Kylo Ren? And by the way, you want to be freaked out by a toy, check out the Kylo Ren talking plush toy. It’s Adam Driver’s voice and it’s disturbing.
And with the heartbreak of knowing that my son could turn out to be a dudebro someday despite my every attempt to teach him compassion and tolerance and courtesy and respect, I thought you know what? I’ll love him anyway. Because that’s what you do.
Unless you’re Padme Amidala. If you’re Padme, you fall apart over nothing, lose your will to live, and abandon your two precious babies in a world where their father just became a Dark Lord and the Republic you served so loyally just disintegrated. Where’s your Mama Bear instinct? Where is your indomitable spirit that overcame the blockade of your planet, the numerous assassination attempts, some battles and stuff (I only watched the first season of Clone Wars so I know she did some stuff but…)? You just die? You just… DIE?!
No. NO! The Padme I know and love(d a whole lot more in that first season of Clone Wars because despite Natalie Portman’s best efforts, the prequels were crap) would never go out like that! Homegirl would FIGHT! She would gather up them babies, take them somewhere safe, teach them how to use their voices to fight oppression, and go out on a galactic press tour to speak out about the evils of the Empire. She would probably be assassinated by her husband, true, and her children would be in oh so much more danger, but she would freaking try to make the world a better place!!!
Instead they kill her off in the stupidest, most condescending way possible: she gave up the will to live. Who does that to a woman with that kind of fortitude?
George Lucas. Because he is a robot. Because he is a robotic dudebro sent from the past to remind everyone that scifi is for white male nerds with disposable income and women and POC need not apply. PROTEST GHOSTBUSTERS for putting ladies in it! PROTEST The Force Awakens because there are ladies and POC in starring roles! Make America White Again!
No. NO, I SAY! Go build your metaphorical space wall elsewhere!
OK, but, they established that Padme died when Leia was young (young, not neonatal) so she has to be killed off in the prequels, right? And women die in childbirth sometimes, right? And letting it look like she died before the babies were born would protect them, right?
So how about this: The stress of losing her job (I mean, I assume an Emperor would disband the Senate at some point, right?), losing her husband to the dark side and then… you know, the lava because who could have predicted he’d survive that, and then birthing twins without any pain management that I could see (she was lying flat on her back in a tunnel with just a couple of droids poking at her! They can make spaceships and light sabers but can’t figure out how to deliver babies?!), all of that stress was too much for her heart. She had a heart attack and died. Metaphor for dying of a broken heart? Check. Excuse for pretending she’s still pregnant when she died to protect the babies? Sure, why not. Killing off a character to line up with sequels? You got it. Not giving some bullshit excuse that’s completely out of character? YES please.
Padme Amidala, they did you wrong, girl. I know you didn’t give up on life. You went too hard too long and it caught up with you. But don’t you worry, because your baby girl picked up your torch and ran with it. Your son was a late bloomer, but he did the right thing for a little while. Don’t think about that, now. Just think about Leia. Your daughter, the General. She knows what’s up.