The Women’s March on Washington was not intended as a fan activism event; it was not organized with media fandom, much less specifically Star Wars in mind. Instead, it was envisioned as an intersectional feminist critique via traditional political protest to a new political regime. Nevertheless, protesters incorporated media fandom into their activism by merging iconic media imagery with political speech creating memetic protest posters.
One of the most prolific fan-inspired political memes at the Women’s March was of Princess Leia of Star Wars. With countless variations, Carrie Fisher was a very material presence at the Women’s March, despite her recent passing—reminding fans of those generational lines, and encouraging the passing of the fandom and the activist torch down to younger hands.
One example of this can be seen in Ana Matronic of the band Scissor Sisters cosplay performance as young Princess Leia, complete with buns and a poster reading simply “We Will Defeat the Dark Side” in the Star Wars title font. Matronic in an interview with Vanity Fair stated “I knew that there was going to be lots of kids there. So to see their idol, their princess there supporting them and who they are I thought would stick with them forever. I could inspire these kids to be activists and keep fighting” (Robinson). The Women’s March was filled with children, as many parents found the March an important moment to teach children about civic duty, and provide them a rare opportunity to contribute to an international moment.
This intergenerational exchange is not limited to the bonds of family, but is open to the bond of fandom. The mother of a young Rey cosplayer and activist tweets an image of her daughter carrying a homemade sign asking “What would Leia do?” that is adorned with the Rebellion symbol, flowers, and rainbows. The mother reports that, “An older man handed A— his lightsaber and said, ‘Take this.’ She is glowing. Pass on your light to the next gen.” Star Wars is unlike many modern pop texts for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is its underlying ideology to resist oppression, but perhaps, more importantly, is its ability to cross-generational lines.