Spotlight: Mon Mothma
The question for this day of the Female Awesome challenge was to answer what character I think needs more screen time. Seriously, I barely like any women characters, and then now you want me to find one who wasn’t around long enough for me? Normally I can’t wait for the chicks to get out of the way! Or I like someone who is a background character and, seriously, there is nothing to do with them even if you did give them more screen time. Take Lyn Me, for example, a Twi’lek dancer in Jabba’s palace. I think it’s annoying that a race as cool as the Twi’leks were brought in and then abandoned as far as (canonical) main character appearances were concerned. However, what would you do with a white-skinned Twi’lek dancing in Jabba’s palace and crushing on Boba Fett while attempting to find her long-lost sister? Make her part of a subplot of their escape? Clearly, it complicates things beyond Lucas’ ability.
I used to have an instant answer to this question: Mon Mothma. When I first saw Return of the Jedi, for some reason, I thought she was the flipping coolest. I mean, look at her in the rebel command center, this lone redheaded female surrounded by men, many of which are Mon Calamari. (How Mon Calamari and humans came to be the driving force behind the rebellion . . .)
And she really just never got any attention anywhere. Somehow I knew her name was Mon Mothma, and there was the impression that she was in charge of the rebellion, but you never saw her again after that quick little introduction to their attack on the second Death Star. There was a powerful sort of grace to her, and I thought it was interesting the highest command positions went to women. She had a firm, commanding tone, and expressed concern for her people.
Of course that was before I eventually learned that Bothans were the spy equivalent of mercenaries, that the Alliance paid them buckets of money for the information, and that the selfsame Bothans probably told the Emperor the Alliance was coming for the showdown, thus allowing him to make it part of his final plans for crrrushing them with one ssswift sstrrroke.
But I did spend many years wishing she got more attention. She came up loosely in the books here and there. I found out she was from Chandrila, that she had been a senator in the Old Republic, that she and Garm Bel Iblis were two of the founding instruments in the rebellion. Later she became the Chief of State and was clearly grooming Leia, the only other female around, as her successor; this stood in the way of Leia’s and Han’s relationship and really kind of wrecked Leia as a character for me. What a creep! Anyway, Mon Mothma never got enough attention in the books, little references here, scenes there; no one was interested in developing her character.
When it came time to the prequels, it seemed to me inevitable that she’d turn up. Bail Organa was there, why not Mon Mothma? In fact, in a deleted subplot to Episode III, Mon Mothma did appear in a handful of scenes where a group of senators were forming a petition against Chancellor Palpatine to get him to step down and end the war.
The scenes aren’t well developed, either because they were abandoned right after filming, or because they were only filmed for DVD extras, or because Lucas grows more and more incompetent with age. Padmé is reluctant to join their petition, and then she’s suddenly all over it. Mon Mothma appears with a kicky translator earpiece and really one of the most adorable hairstyles in the entire prequels.
Maybe that is why I like Mon Mothma. She does stand out among the women of Star Wars in that she dresses and coifs herself plainly; she’s an effective leader, stubborn, and determined to see that right is done. And shouldn’t she really be around throughout the end of ROTJ? At least put her in the background during the big battle. Ackbar’s still there; where did she disappear to? The Ladies’? The whole freakin’ battle? Yet I think this question literally intends me to be asking for more than 10-25 seconds of extra screen time.