Phineas & Ferb Star Wars: A Reminder that Disney Isn’t Star Wars’ Problem, it’s Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams

A few months back on a lark, my GF started watching Phineas & Ferb on Netflix. While it took a bit for it to grow on me, it’s become one of my favorite cartoons, and I’ll be bummed when it’s gone next month.

Season 4 had an unusually high share of “special” episodes and two-parters–the best of these was a Star Wars special.


While Mouse Wars has scrambled to hit diversity checkboxes and increase female representation in science fiction to 1920s level, Kathleen Kennedy and her ilk have failed to create any likable, relatable, or compelling female characters. Rey is a grating bully who is constantly berating her companions and treating them like they’re useless. While I enjoyed Rogue One, I recognize its roots in Tabletop and therefore see Jyn for what she is–the MacGuffin NPC the Party has to protect for their TPK one-off adventure. Rose Tico and Holdo are bad memes (I feel bad for Kelly Marie Tran, a cute fan-girl that the film-makers intentionally dumpied up and gave a shit part so they could check a diversity box, much less so for Laura Dern). Phasma was supposed to be a big deal, cuz “ermegerd, a lady Storm Trooper!”, but we all saw how well that went.

Feminist Star Wars couldn’t even make a female character as compelling or with half as good an arc as Storm Trooper Candace.

Candace was everything that Phasma or Finn should’ve been–someone who’s bought into the imperial ideas for reasons that are not bad reasons, so they can have a genuine moral conflict when presented with a dilemma that makes them reconsider their role as an imperial enforcer.

It’s cheesy, has a bunch of song and dance numbers, and has a bit of an over-reliance at times on the old “Darth Vader’s socks” meme… Here’s the thing about this cartoon special, though… If you strip away the burlesque elements, you’re actually left with the building blocks of a pretty compelling Star Wars story:

  • A villain has devised a way to artificially augment Dark Side Force abilities.
  • A Rank & File Imperial who believes in “the cause” gets caught up in an incident that leads them to see the humanity of the Rebels.
  • Brother is set against brother when the villain corrupts one of them.
  • A tough-girl space pirate (Pepper Melange, anyone?) falls in love with the hero, one of the brothers, because she comes to realize that he’s not a squish and is willing to put his life on the line for his friends.

Compare that to:

  • A villain is mad at mom and dad, so he digs out grampa’s war memorabilia and goes off to play space Nazi. Some has to go stop him, I guess?
  • A janitor defects from a cause he’s not invested in the first time he sees action.
  • A woman yells at said janitor and treats him like crap until he gets coma’d. (Seriously, how does “Pro-Diversity” Star Wars go from having a black man piloting the fastest ship in the galaxy to destroy a Death Star to having a black man get yelled at and told he’s useless by a white lady for 2 hours?)

So, if you have Netflix, do yourself a favor and watch this before they take it off and it gets shuffled over to Disney’s streaming service they’ll be launching in the soontime.

 

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6 responses to “Phineas & Ferb Star Wars: A Reminder that Disney Isn’t Star Wars’ Problem, it’s Kathleen Kennedy, Rian Johnson, and JJ Abrams

  1. I had this same experience when watching Starkid’s parody “A Very Potter Senior Year”. Beneath the silliness we had what was a really interesting origin story for Voldemort: He grows up in an orphanage and learns to despise muggles due to his terrible treatment, is taken in by a kind old man, a wizard, who sees good in him, leading to his beliefs being shaken, but ultimately ends up a tragic figure when he decides to give his muggle family a chance and they treat him as bad or worse than his orphanage ever did.

    How much more interesting and clever is that than “Boy was always a sociopath since childhood because he just was”?

  2. Pingback: What Makes a Great Parody? - SuperversiveSF

  3. Pingback: Links (2018-06-04) | Featured Futures

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