Category Archives: romance

10-year anniversary of Attack of the Clones-and Padme’s amazing wardrobe

ImageTen years ago today, a boy in first period Algebra dropped little tidbits about Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. He’d gone to the midnight showing, something I wasn’t aware the local theater participated. He spoke of an amazing lightsaber duel, plenty of action and that something happened at the end regarding Luke and Leia. I was particularly puzzled over the last bit.

I’d been looking forward to AotC for months. I spent more than a buffering the first theatrical trailer on the family’s old computer with dial-up internet. I taped and watched a variety of specials about the movie and Star Wars in general. I still have those tapes, but no working VCR. For some reason, I can’t make myself throw them in the trash. I collected various articles. That was how I found out about the Star Wars convention a mere hour drive away at the beginning of the month. Had I known about it before, I would have waited to have knee surgery.

That Saturday, a friend, my brother and I met at the movie theater. It was quite the experience. Anakin’s moment with the Tuskan Raiders shed so much more into his character. Obi-Wan’s one-liners and quick thinking impressed. Granted, his lightsaber skills at the end bothered me. He was so skilled in TPM and then fell flat. The excuse of a different fighting style doesn’t work. Qui-Gon would know how his Master fought and pass on the knowledge. Yoda stole the end with his fight. Count Dooku added a more complicated villain to the mix.

And then there was Padme.

ImageIt took about .5 seconds for me to think Padme was a fantastic character in The Phantom Menace. She didn’t waver from her convictions just because someone wanted to kill her. She maintained a desire for a peaceful solution over war, similar to TPM. Rather than wait to die or hope that Anakin or Obi-Wan would rescue her, Padme came up with her own plan to try to avoid death in the Geonosian arena. Instead of hiding behind Anakin’s lightsaber when the battle droids appeared, she grabbed a blaster and shot back. It never felt as if she was the one being rescued, or that she wasn’t an equal part of the team.

ImagePadme also had a killer wardrobe. Thinking back on it, it seems rather important to separate her from the others this way. Her costumes showed her personality. She could move in them, yet they added to her natural regale stance. They made her appear more comfortable, more like herself. The complex, restricting gowns wore as Queen of Naboo maintained a strict, somewhat rigid image. Padme became another person in those ensembles. It didn’t seem as if she had to dress prettier because she was a girl. The clothing choices fit the character.

I’m not sure which my favorite is. The blue outfit on Tatooine has a certain casual flair to it, while the picnic gown is gorgeous. Even her arena garb was done well—except for the tearing that was rather unnecessary.

It’s incredibly easy to rip on the corny lines spoken by both Anakin and Padme. They sound ridiculous if you take them at face value. In a movie, we tend to expect more smooth, touching lines. Most of Anakin’s dialogue actually sounded like what a 19-year-old man would say. Most people in love say things that sound cheesy to outsiders, especially at a young age. Yes, it would have been great if the lines were better, no argument there, but I can live with them.

Ten years later, despite the flaws, I still love Attack of the Clones. It’s hard to believe that it’s been this long since Yoda’s first big screen lightsaber duel.

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Filed under female characters, movies, Padme, romance, Star Wars

SWTOR: Romancing a Jedi

Nadia, my Jedi Knight, received her first Dark Side points last night. She made it all the way to 45 without a single incident.

I didn’t have her kill someone or take the easy way out of a situation.

I let her marry Doc.

When I first learned about the romance aspect of SWTOR, I was intrigued. I’m a major fan of The Sims games and all of the fun relationship angles those games permit. I hadn’t tried SWTOR-style love out on any of my characters until now. Nadia was the first who gained a companion where that was an option. I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to romance Doc because of the Dark Side point factor. When I created Nadia, I didn’t picture her as the straight and narrow Jedi. I wanted her to have a bit of an edge.

Instead of working on Voss, I decided to raise the relationships with my companions. That unlocked some quests, giving me about a fourth a level. Not bad at all, really. I gave gifts to my companions, mainly Doc and made several trips to the ship for conversations. It’d be really helpful if BioWare did something so that the conversations with companions would work in cantinas. It’d save on time.

During my conversations with Doc, I had several opportunities to take the romance path but I didn’t. I wonder if the outcome would have been the same if I’d gone with the “let’s have some commitment free fun” instead of dragging out several conversations and raising his affection level.

Finally, Doc proposed. Good timing too, as I was on my last Courting and Luxury gifts (items he prefers). I debated it for a couple minutes before agreeing to it. The funny thing was while Nadia had flirted, they had yet to kiss.

What happened next surprised me: BioWare actually showed the ceremony. When my husband’s Sith Warrior married Vette, all he saw was a black screen for a moment and that was it. I figured the same thing would happen with all the other characters, which may have contributed to the lack of push to explore the romance angle. Not with Doc and Nadia. A gold droid appeared (looked like C2) to lead the ceremony, “I do” were said and vows declared. How awesome is that?

In addition, Doc’s proposal was probably one of the most entertaining ones I’ve ever heard. I wish I’d known it was going to happen. I would have made a video of it.

Now that my Jedi’s taken the forbidden path, I’m glad I followed that story option through. The Dark Side points are somewhat annoying, but she is a Knight of the old Order. Love is a big no (even though someone important is breaking that rule). I can live with the 50 points and subsequent others for the sake of the romance. I’m curious as to how it will play out later in the game. Will the other companions aboard the ship notice something? Is Kira going to tell the Jedi Council? I hope some type of conflict occurs. Nothing soap opera-like, of course, but an interesting twist. For example, given Kira’s past with the Sith Emperor, she owes the Jedi Knight character quite a bit. Is that enough to keep her quiet? I can’t see anything happening, but the possibilities are fun to ponder.

Showing the actual ceremony gave the game something extra. It made the characters seem a little more interesting. The companions sometimes go off on missions of their own. All players see is a black screen for a second, 99 percent of the time. There was one with Kira that involved actually traveling to Nar Shaddaa. Being able to see what was going on between Nadia and Doc made a huge difference in play.

This development easily makes the list of my favorite moments in the game so far. I can’t see it being knocked off, either.

Most importantly, it put romance into the TOR story. I’ve discussed before about how importance romance is to a story. Arguably, the most important characteristic of SWTOR is that it feels like Star Wars. It feels like it during battles or missions, but adding romance completes the package. It wasn’t enough to allow players to select a romantic interaction. Actually seeing it made the story more concrete. How many times have readers complained about a major romantic moment happening off-camera? (Example: Jaina and Jag’s reunion in Vortex

A quick YouTube search revealed that other classes show a ceremony also, like the Smugglers and Imperial Agents. I’m glad to see that BioWare included these weddings in the game.

Now if only we could see those strange Twi’lek wedding rituals Vette spoke about…

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Filed under romance, SWTOR

It’s time to say goodbye to "teams"

Team Edward. Team Peeta. Team Draco. Team Zekk. Team Jacob. Team Kyp. Team Harry. Team Gale. Team Jag. When did romance become a sporting event?

Years ago, while reading the Twilight series, my friend asked me who I liked better: Edward or Jacob. (Neither one was a good partner, but then again, Bella requires others to define her.) She told me about the “teams” discussion on a forum we both visited. I said Edward because not only did Jacob drive me nuts, but also it felt like Jacob saw Bella more as a prize to win rather than a human being.

That idea right there is what bothers me the most about the team concept: the woman becomes a prize.

The perpetuation of the team concept comes mainly from marketing around the Twilight movies. While it found its way onto message boards, icons and social media, various companies pushed the “Whose team are you on?” question. A Burger King commercial ran a few years ago (think around the time of Eclipse) that completely ignored Bella, the main character of the movie, in favor of the two sides. Despite the type of flimsy character Bella is, it seemed rather wrong that she was made into some medal or trophy.

With The Hunger Games movie, scads of merchandise with the statements “Team Peeta” or “Team Gale” flood the internet. The idea of team-themed merchandise could work for the movie, if it wasn’t based on romance. Show your support for Katniss, Peeta or District 12 to win the games. However, if I walk around with a shirt that says Team Peeta because I want him to win the games, the idea wrongly projected is that I’m a part of some feud.

The teams idea creates conflict. These conflicts would exist without the term, but thanks to the popularity of the word, these conflicts become larger than the story itself. Back during the New Jedi Order days, plenty of debates ran about whom Jaina Solo should be with: Jag, Zekk or Kyp. While these discussions still exist today, they don’t seem as frequent or volatile. I remember reading several arguments that largely ignored Jaina’s characterization and the actual events in the books. The same problem exists in The Hunger Games. Team discussions often ignore the main ideas of the plot.

These types of conflicts do serve a positive purpose: continuous discussion, new perspectives and character analysis. If everyone agreed on each aspect of a story, conversations would die out quickly. Taking the romance angle is just one of the many ways to look at a character.

The idea of rooting for a particular suitor isn’t wrong or disrespectful to the female character. The problem arises when it takes the woman out of the equation except for her mere presence. From Jacob’s comments and the part of Breaking Dawn that was written from his point of view, I had the impression that he was more interested in winning. He seemed to lose sight of Bella’s happiness.

Mobilizing teams the way it happened throws out the choice of the female characters. Fans don’t have to agree with it. I still don’t like Harry and Ginny together. It’s far too easy to ignore actions and essence of a character, be it the female in question or one of the suitors. One of the major differences between Edward and Jacob is that Edward was willing to stand aside if Jacob was whom Bella wanted. Jacob made no such concession. This argument rarely comes into play in Edward v. Jacob debates. In The Hunger Games, this isn’t really an issue. Katniss doesn’t want a relationship nor is it much of a possibility, what with Snow’s threats.

The whole team concept has gotten out of hand. It’s impossible to enjoy a book that has more than one romance interest without someone bringing up a team, regardless of genre. The Hunger Games isn’t the story of a love triangle. There isn’t a strong sense of “who is Katniss going to choose” throughout the series and yet, it’s rapidly falling into that trap. It’s one matter to discuss who you think is the better choice. It’s another to ignore the importance of a story and belittle the female character by turning it into a dating show.

I hate the insinuation that I’m a member of a team. It implies that I only care about who the character is going to choose. Before Explosive Eighteen, the newest book in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich, hit shelves in November, I read several reviews on Amazon stating that “Team Ranger” fans weren’t going to like it. Basing the entire opinion of a book on Stephanie Plum’s love life and ignoring the rest of the plot seems rather close-minded. I don’t read the Stephanie Plum books because for Ranger or Morelli. I read them because I enjoy Stephanie’s characterization and the rich cast of characters (who doesn’t love Lulu?)

Thanks to the label coupled with Twilight, some are hesitant to dive into The Hunger Games or other works of literature that “team” crept into. If the whole “Team Edward/Team Jacob” debate annoyed you, would you go into a movie that appears to use the same idea? Probably not. While I’ve yet to see Lionsgate use the Team Gale/Team Peeta monikers, there’s enough outside merchandise to make the average consumer aware of the idea. A simple online search pulls up the Team Gale and Team Peeta concepts.

This whole team epidemic kills romance. When I viewed New Moon in theaters, I felt as if the theater was broken up into groups: Edward lovers and Jacob lovers. There was a sense of hostility in the room. It was awkward. It was even more awkward when the middle-aged women in front of our little group writhed in joy when Taylor Lautner removed his shirt (who was 17 at the time with a baby face). Take out that I thought New Moon was a horrible book and mediocre movie and it was still hostile environment.

I suppose for me romance isn’t a contest. It’s not a race to the finish line. Some love stories fizzle out. That doesn’t mean they weren’t good. Take the movie The Notebook, for instance. Just because Allie and Lon don’t end up together doesn’t mean their love story was unimportant or uninteresting. I didn’t feel as if we Jaina/Jag fans “won” in Omen after the proposal. Just because Jaina and Zekk didn’t end up together as adults doesn’t mean that their young love in the Young Jedi Knights series was pointless or a waste of time.

Romance is more of a continuous journey with no end rather than an objective based race.

Pushing the idea of “teams” onto a movie or book only causes harm. While it may be true that a group of fans band together in support of a pairing, referring to it as a team diminishes characterization, story and romance in general.

It’s time to retire the term for good.

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Filed under Harry Potter, Jaina Solo, NJO, romance, teams, The Hunger Games, Twilight

Where’s the love? A look at the lack of romance in the EU

Romance is a fickle thing in writing. Too much will make the story seem too soppy or distract from the main plot while too little leaves readers unsatisfied. Finding that balance is one that many writers struggle with. When it comes writing romance, I shy away from the long, love-filled speeches. I prefer to use actions and gestures, like a touch or favor. There’s no set formula, though, about how much or how little a story needs.
Romance plays a vital role in so many stories we love. Think about Empire Strikes Back. The love story between Han and Leia was phenomenal. It wasn’t drippy or character killing (go Harrison Ford’s improvising). It wasn’t awkward. It was believable. Their actions made sense for the characters, making their love easy to see. It was a vital chain in the story, not some silly side plot.
Take Harry Potter as another example. While love is a major theme of the book, it’s not romantic love. The romance in Harry Potter is much less than some fans wanted to see. Hermione and Ron don’t have grand, loving moments. In the books, we don’t even see their first kiss. The movie handled that scene well. It was the moment we were all waiting for—and expressed the same amusement as Harry did about the situation.
Romantic pairings come into play in Harry Potter. The Ron and Lavender incident caused severe friction between the three. And who can forget about the Yule Ball fiasco? Bill and Fleur’s wedding and the pairing of Remus and Tonks added not only a touch of romance, but hope to the latter books.
Even Harry’s crush on Cho and feelings for Ginny were rather muted. He pined for them, but it wasn’t as if they were the focus of the books.
When it comes to Harry Potter, I don’t think that the books needed more romance. It wasn’t about Harry’s relationship with Ginny or Remus learning that he can have love too. The romance added a bit of flavor to the book, the topping if you will.
Romance is something severely lacking from the Star Wars EU. It didn’t used to be. The best example of this recent problem is the Fate of the Jedi series. It started with great romantic interactions with Jaina Solo and Jag Fel. These continued through the series until Backlash. There was nothing in Backlash. No real Jaina and Jag or Han and Leia. Allies? Yeah right. Vortex, a sliver. Conviction? Not really. Ascension? I’ve already expressed my feelings on the “romance” in that book.
What doesn’t make sense with FotJ is that there was a love story right there to work with and expand upon. Jaina and Jag were prominent characters in Outcast, for one. After that, their roles dwindled. It’s important to maintain some type of character balance in a long series, but it was lost along the way.
When I think of romance in Star Wars, I don’t think of chats in the starlight or candlelight dinners. It’s more action orientated and animated. It’s possible to have a romantic interaction without gooey language or even a kiss. It’s all in the wording and the character point of view. A person’s reactions are more telling than anything else is. Look at the Hunger Games trilogy when Katniss thought Capital was going to torture Peeta. She wanted to kill him to save him. Even though she didn’t realize it, it was clear she loved him.
The EU books need romance to balance out the story. Think about a book or story. Now categorize what is going on in the book. Each piece acts as a building block to make the perfect tale. Too much of something and the story feels odd.
Romance is something that most can understand. Most people want to love someone or already do. It’s an emotion we can understand, even if we don’t have any experience with the situations or emotions the characters are feeling. I’ve never been hunted, or as good as dead, but I understood Peeta’s need to keep Katniss alive in The Hunger Games, for example.
Star Wars is a space opera. Love plays such a vital role in the overall Saga. Anakin’s obsessive love for Padme influenced his decisions to go to the Dark Side. Would Anakin have fallen had he not fallen in love and married Padme? It’s very possible, but the story wouldn’t have been the same.
Romance also appeals to everyone. We all know the arguments about romance novels and “chick flicks.” They’re for “women.” Plenty of men enjoy these types of stories. The concept that romance is only for women is a pointless, old stereotype.
One of the many questions I’d love to ask the editorial team and writers is where the romance went. Including some aspect of it would not only make the books feel more “Star Wars,” but would also make the stories more appealing to a wider audience. Without Mara and Luke, the content falls mainly on Han and Leia’s and Jaina and Jag’s shoulders, yet we don’t see too much of either.
When writing, I can’t put the number of pages or romantic interactions into a calculator to determine how much more or less I need. Reading the story and finding feedback is the only way to accomplish this. Receiving feedback from multiple sources is even better. That way, it’s possible to see multiple views of the scenes in question. Some stories only need three or four romantic moments or bits while others need a chapter’s worth of content.
The argument for balancing romance is similar to angst, tragedy, comedy and other genres. Each has a place in a story—and a certain amount called for. While not every story needs romance, that factor was established as a key factor of Star Wars during the OT. It’s time for it to come back.

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Filed under Han Solo, Harry Potter, Jagged Fel, Jaina Solo, Katniss Everdeen, Luke Skywalker, Peeta Mellark, Princess Leia, romance, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, writing