Like many geeks of the past forty or so years, I consider myself interested in the Star Wars universe, if not quite reaching the levels of 'fan' that others do. I don't own any Star Wars novels, posters or collectables (beyond my Ahsoka figure and a LEGO set), I don't buy Insider, I've got a small collection of the comics and games, and I have all six main films (and the two LEGO spin-offs) on DVD. And as a fan of animation, it's only natural that I have Star Wars: The Clone Wars on DVD - I bought the Season 1-4 boxset earlier this year after watching the movie. And, to be honest, I don't think it does anything new. Whilst I have enjoyed various episodes (I'm currently in the second half of Season 2), it's felt flawed from the start though it hasn't quite reached the lows of the prequel trilogy. Yet. But I have one big problem. And I have to ask 'Why?'. And post a gif that contains my reaction to each occurrence of it.
The problem is not entirely within the contradictory messages, the hypocrisy of the Jedi order and the handwaving of major details, nor the restrictive niche into which the series fills, it's how it portrays women - in more specific terms, my problem is with the visual design of the female characters. Of course, it must be pointed out that Star Wars has never exactly been excellent when it comes to women, but The Clone Wars arguably reaches a low point for the franchise. The main 'good' female cast is Padmé Amidala and Ahsoka Tano, Anakin's lover and padawan respectively, and occasionally characters such as Aayla Secura, Luminara Unduli and Barriss Offee appear in either supporting or (co-)lead roles. On the 'bad' side, we have Asajj Ventress and Aurra Sing, with other less well-known characters again appearing in supporting or short roles. The female cast is rather vastly outnumbered by the male cast, even when you count most of the Clone Troopers as a singular entity (due to their shared history and voice actor).
And yet, again, this is not uncommon for Star Wars, and whilst problematic, isn't really part of the issue. Almost (if not) every female character is wearing tight clothing. I mean really tight. There's also a focus on breasts, too, and that becomes quite unsettling when you realise there's droids with breasts walking around and a 13 year old girl wearing a top that puts the focus entirely on her chest. There's also not much variety with respect to how women look. Even with the more... eccentric-looking alien species, they've almost got 'attractive' characteristics, whether it's their face, a large bust, wide hips & a big butt, etc., these attributes are present in the vast majority of the female characters.
A lot of this comes down to the clothing that the characters are dressed in. It's tight, it's revealing, it's largely a bit daft. Let me make a simple comparison. This is a shot of a number of the main characters. Which characters have bare skin?
How about Aayla Secura? She's got a LOT on display there. Ahsoka's redesign covered her front up a lot more, but it added a cleavage window that Daenerys would be proud of, not to mention leaving her back almost bare.
This is a shot I took during an episode where Barriss and Luminara are present, and it gives - in a single shot - a rough idea of what I meant by tight clothing.
it's everywhere in the show.
It isn't even limited to the show, it moved into the supporting material such as the comics, comics being a medium well known (ha) for excellent and tasteful portrayals of women, and even the children's magazines. At times we see how badass characters like Ahsoka can look, but on the whole it's painted over with designs that don't apply equally to all characters, and instead it seems like the males get the respectful designs and the females get the scraps left over from making the male costumes, or at least clothes that are a size too small.
It's a shame, because this is genuinely affecting my enjoyment of the show. I find myself distracted by these issues frequently in almost every episode, and that annoys me somewhat.