It's an old, upsetting story, but it was brought to life once more when the trailer for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released on April 7: male fans cursing the world for giving them female characters that are neither wallflowers nor hot dates. How dare they?
For those who haven't seen it, the trailer of Rogue One features Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones), a Rebel whose mission is to steal the plans of the Death Star — remember, we are just before the events in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. And somehow, it sent way too many people in a frenzy over the fact that Erso was a woman. Maybe they're still dreaming of going back to the standards of the original franchise, which apart from Leia allotted a staggering 1:23 minutes of dialogue in total to its female characters.
But since diving into the depths of the Twittersphere to argue with fans who can't picture a girl liking Star Wars seemed about as productive as trying to convince someone to switch to sweet popcorn when they like it savory, I decided to find solace in previous female-lead movies (and TV shows). Their existence is like a reminder that the world can still be a beautiful shiny place full of badass girls, just like some people watch thousands of loops of cute puppy gifs when they're sad because it reminds them that it's still possible to be happy.
Ahead are nine stories with wonderful characters that will not only make you feel delighted about their mere existence, but will also give you a solid lesson on how to not give a single f*ck. That's always useful.
1. 'Out Of Africa'
In the face of whiny complaints that a woman was allowed to wield a lightsaber AND make proper use of it, be like Karen Blixen. Face the lion. Of course she's scared, but there's no way she's going to run and hide.
Juno's genius and witty dialogue provided us with perfect examples of how to deal with situations that seem way too crazy to handle. When Juno's asked by the baby's future adoptive parents if she's really going to do this, she says:
"If I could have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would, but I'm guessing it looks probably like a sea monkey right now. We should let it get a little cuter."
Kudos to you, Juno, for not completely freaking out at the prospect of having a baby at 16, and staying such a good and level-headed person.
3. 'Kill Bill'
If someone had told me that a movie scene could have me dying to slip into a yellow tracksuit because that would magically make me feel like the most badass girl in the world, I probably wouldn't have believed them — but there it is.
4. '10 Things I Hate About You'
Ahh, the nostalgia of 10 Things I Hate About You. With a young, naive Joseph Gordon-Levitt and too-cool-for-school Heath Ledger, it's the '90s gift that keeps on giving. But what I want to point out here is that I wish someone had taught me how to reach Kat-level of being so above-it-all in high school.
5. 'Jessica Jones'
Jessica Jones may have her weaknesses, but she's a goddamn badass for going back to face the monster that is Kilgrave. If you haven't yet discovered this little Netflix gem that's part of Marvel's Defenders series, go watch Jessica punch through some walls and wonder whose ass you could kick with that strength.
6. 'Mistress America'
"She lived exactly how a young woman should live, who wants to spend her youth well. She did everything, and nothing. Being around her was like being in New York City."
Who doesn't want to be Brooke at some point in their lives? Mistress America is another of Noah Baumbach's witty, bittersweet but hilarious takes on the struggles of being a dreamy teenager in a thirty-year old body.
It's obviously not easy to be a girl in 1970s Iran, but Marjane won't let things take her down. In this touching adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical comic book, Marjane is seen growing up in the context of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and struggling to match her expectations with those of the Iranian society. The movie was ranked 6th in Time's list of top 10 movies of 2007, the year it was released.
8. 'Marie Antoinette'
Marie Antoinette keeps on being told that she's responsible for her frigid husband, threatened that she'll ruin the Franco-Austrian alliance if she can't get the lock making-obsessed prince to not turn her back to her in the marital bed.
Well you know what? She's gonna have fun. Buy shit tons of clothes. Stuff her face with luxury pastries. Who cares about the economy of France?
9. 'Easy A'
Olive is no slouch when it comes to helping out her classmate stuck in the closet. She's also not afraid to show up at school looking like, as her father so elegantly puts it, a high-end stripper. And when things spiral out of control, she will be there to set the record straight.