It’s Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you! (Get it?) Instead of “May the Force be with you…” If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that I’m unabashedly a Star Wars geek. I’ve been playing in a Star Wars RPG every week for the past six months or so… and last Thursday, we reached the stunning conclusion of the entire campaign. It was awesome. I got to blow up a star destroyer the way Luke Skywalker blew up the Death Star.
But today, what I want to discuss is Padme Amidala. Old school Star Wars geeks may have disdain for people like me who like the prequels better than the original trilogy. Padme was my favorite character until the end of Star Wars – Episode III, Revenge of the Sith. (If you’ve never watched the movie, the rest of this post contains spoilers. Oh, and what’s up with that? Everybody’s seen Star Wars!)
Padme was a strong female character ever since her introduction in Star Wars – Episode I, The Phantom Menace. She was introduced to us as the Queen of Naboo – with a remarkable number of lookalike handmaidens to act as her decoys. In Star Wars – Episode II, Attack of the Clones, she became a galactic senator in place of now-Chancellor Palpatine.
We’re going to ignore the creepiness factor of her falling in love with Anakin Skywalker, who she first took care of like a mother or an older sister when he was a young slave boy from Tatooine. We’re all going to ignore that she and Anakin had absolutely no chemistry on-screen, and their dialogue was stilted and painful to listen to.
She was fairly awesome in the gladiator arena on Geonosis. Certainly “on top of things,” as Obi-Wan Kenobi said. No lightsaber or Force powers for her… just a stolen blaster pistol.
And yet… I can forgive her for the weepiness and the poor judgment she displays in the third movie. She was pregnant. I remember what it was like to be hormonal. I can even understand the whole “stand by your man” thing where she thinks she can change Anakin, save him after he turned to the Dark Side. Too many smart women stay with men who don’t deserve them. Get abused. Anakin Force choked her and left her for dead when he thought she betrayed him on Mustafar.
But even then, she could have been redeemed herself. Abused women get out of their relationships every day, finding the strength to go on. But Padme? She gives birth to healthy twins… no complications in labor. (Side note – With all of the advanced technology in the galaxy, including hyperspace travel – she didn’t know she was having twins until they were delivered. She never got prenatal care!) Except she loses the will to live because of Anakin. She died of a broken heart.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN?
You know what? It sucks that Anakin turned out to be a monster instead of the man she thought he was. I can understand being depressed and despondent about that. But what about loving her children? Step up, woman! Don’t die on them!
I’m lucky enough to have a husband who loves me and TJ very much. But there are countless single moms out there who put their own heartache aside to be strong for their children. They mom up and survive.
I knew that Padme would likely have to die by the end of the film. Otherwise, why would Luke end up with his aunt and uncle on Tatooine, and Leia end up being raised by Bail Organa and his wife on Alderaan? But she got robbed of a strong woman’s honorable death. Dying in childbirth due to complications would have been a better end for her. Being killed by Anakin would have been a better end for her – of course, with emergency delivery of the twins shortly afterward.
In my mind, Padme’s death changed her from being a strong sci-fi heroine to being one of the worst kinds of moms. She didn’t even live long enough to find out what was going to happen to her children. Obi-Wan, Yoda, and Senator Organa had to decide that afterward. That’s called gross neglect. She was dying before she even delivered… not even bothering to stay strong to ensure that her children would be born healthy. They could have died with her.
It was a lame death, and it seems totally out of character for a woman who was so excited to raise her baby back home on Naboo in the lake country. She should have stayed the strong woman who wanted so badly to be a good mom. Instead, she simply failed.
What do you think? Am I being too hard on her? I do realize that the real blame lies on George Lucas.
* And yes, all of those links are affiliate links. In case you don’t yet own the Star Wars prequels.