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Opinion: The Star Wars Franchise Needs To Revamp Itself

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The Star Wars franchise was something that I grew up with when I was a teenager. When I was in class 6th, I was introduced to the franchise by the video games, Star Wars Battlefront and Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. It was the first time, I ever invested in the franchise. Then I started watching all the Star Wars films (before the Star Wars: The Force Awakens). 3 years after I got the Force Unleashed and Battlefront 1, I got Star Wars: Battlefront 2 and that was the game I invested myself in. I have spent hundreds, if not thousands hours playing this game. The story of the game is also good. It revolves around a retired clone trooper who recounts his story from the sands of Geonosis to the snows of Hoth. It also shows the brutal realities of war and camaraderie. It was something that was missing in the movies.

Star Wars under Disney has seen a drop in quality.

Then the Clone Wars Tv series dropped on Cartoon Network (When Cartoon Network used to air good cartoons). As a fan, I watched the episodes like I was watching a terrible Saas-Bahu serial. I also watched the Genndy Tartakovsky version which reminds me of Samurai Jack meets Neon Genesis: Evangelion.

Albeit I got a lot of flacks for it because I wasn’t investing in my studies, I must admit. If it weren’t for Star Wars, Hollywood, and video games, I wouldn’t have learned English. The fact that I learned a subject outside of school makes me question the current education system. Hell, even history videos are more informative and entertaining than the teachers in school. Anyway, when Disney acquired Star Wars in 2012, they announced that they’ll release the Sequel Trilogy. Furthermore, in E3 2013, Electronic Arts and DICE Studios announced the new Star Wars Battlefront game which made me even more excited.

Fast forward to 2015, the game finally came out and I must say, I was disheartened. The game is style with no substance. In other words, the game looks good, lacks content. Although the movie The Force Awakens was great, it was just the rehash of The New Hope. Even the factions, the Resistance and the First Order are just Rebels and Empire with a fresh coat of paint. Then the Last Jedi came and everyone’s perception of Star Wars has changed. To add more spice, Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017) came under fire because of the aggressive monetization system like the Loot-boxes. It was so bad, that the Dutch Court fined EA 10 million Euros for implementing it in their games. Belgium had to ban the loot-box because of the controversy. Even Hawaii Representative Chris Lee called it an online gambling cantina to lure kids into spending money. Although DICE improved this game and removed the loot boxes, the damage was already done.

By the time The Rise of Skywalker came out in 2019, people have already given up on Disney’s ability to make Star Wars movies. The movie was just a fanservice material, nothing more. To see one of my beloved franchises being decimated makes me flabbergasted and bamboozled.

My Mini Stormtrooper Helmet

In my opinion, Disney had a lot of source materials to utilize. Those materials could have been a reality. Instead, they chose to go the easy route and exploited the nostalgia to make a quick buck. The Star Wars movies under George Lucas (particularly the Prequel Trilogy) had flaws too. For example the cringy dialogue and the overuse of special effects. At least, it had a structured story and the actors were well used. The Sequel trilogy treated its cast like an abandoned house. The cast from the Original Trilogy was treated well, mostly. Although they were killed off in each of the Sequel Trilogy. The new characters were underwhelming. Some were so cringy that the actors who played them were harassed online. The actors are not responsible for the bad writing and directions. The ones who hold the leashed messed it up and they should be called out for it. So I don’t think they should be bullied for it.

Another problem is Disney doesn’t understand Star Wars. They think it’s space, lightsabers, wars, and bounty hunters. To be quite honest, the pre-Disney movies were made for the fans, at foremost. Disney movies on the other hand were made for the average viewers. They think that they’re Marvel movies. But the difference between Star Wars and Marvel is their fans. But Disney doesn’t see that. They only see them as brands to sell more merchandise. Sadly, Star Wars movies have regressed because of the decisions of the upper echelons of Disney.

It’s not all that bad though, the anthology movies are great in their rights. The last season of the Clone Wars, The Mandalorian, Rebels, and the Bad Batch had made me and the fans reinterested in the franchise. EA’s video game, the Jedi Fallen Order was good too. I hope it stays that way. The Star Wars Franchise was something I and the other fans grew up with and we only want what’s best for it. And I hope it continues to be that way.

But given Disney’s recent controversy with the Mulan live-action movie and its current appeasement to the Chinese Government, the future seems uncertain and bleak(Probably to get more communist gold). I hope they don’t mess it further as they did with the Sequel Trilogy.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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