Let's settle the discussion about the female hero in 'Rogue One' once and for all.

So, um. There's a new "Star Wars" trailer out.

I... wha...


Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Yeah, man.

...

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Right?

Awesome!

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

I know.

But wait, who's that lady?

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

That's Jyn Erso.

Uh, who?

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Jyn Erso. She appears to be the main character in "Rogue One," the new "Star Wars" movie.

Yes, I know that. I'm not an idiot. I mean, like, who is she?

There's not really much info on her yet, but judging by the trailer, she appears to be a renegade from the wrong side of the tracks with nothing left to lose.

Which probably means she's the hero.

Wait, wasn't the hero of the last "Star Wars" movie a woman too?


GIF from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"/Disney.

Yes.

That's kind of weird. Why would they do that?

I mean, why wouldn't they do that?

It's just, I don't know. It seems like ... why do they have to, like ... make a whole thing out of it?


Another woman! There's at least two women in this movie! Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Well, it's not necessarily "a thing." Why can't it just be ... what it is?

Is, like, every "Star Wars" movie going to have a female lead from now on? As, like, some sort of statement?

Probably not. But ... would it be wrong if they did? Putting men at the center of action/adventure movies was pretty much the default since the beginning of movies. But there's no real reason that has to be the case!

Women are perfectly capable of running, jumping, fighting, and blowing things up. When you think about it that way, having a woman lead two movies in a row seems a lot less weird.

Then why does it feel weird to me?

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Look, women are 50% of the population. That being the case, you'd expect to see a roughly equal number of movies starring women and men. But right now, we don't. From 2007 to 2014, only 30% of all speaking roles in the top 700 grossing films went to women. And in 2014, only 21% of the top 100 grossing films featured a female lead, according to a report published by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at USC. That's kind of ridiculous! But it's what we're used to.

Balancing those tables isn't giving female heroes special preeminence. It's correcting a huge imbalance that already exists. It's totally understandable that it feels odd. But what's actually odd is the way things were already. If ... that makes sense.

But what if I want to see a "Star Wars" movie with a male hero?

GIF from "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi"/LucasFilm.

You're in luck! Men still hold the all-time record for Most "Star Wars" Movies Led — at six in a row. You can purchase all of those films on DVD or Blu-ray.

But what if I want to see one on the big screen with Dolby surround sound?

GIF from "Star Wars"/LucasFilm.

More good news! You can do that in just a few years when the Han Solo movie comes out.

Yeah, OK. That makes sense.

Image by Star Wars/YouTube.

Sure! Look. Change is hard. Men have been starring in big blockbuster movies since basically forever. But just because it's always been that way doesn't mean it has to stay that way.

It's not only fair to mix it up, it's more interesting! Variety is the spice of life! Normal is a setting on a washing machine!

I mean, the last woman-led "Star Wars" was pretty great. And this one looks ... pretty damn good too.

Women have always been more than capable of heading a "Star Wars" movie. And now that they're actually getting chances, they're killing it. Batting 1.000, actually (on an admittedly small sample size). I'll sign up for that any day.

Cool. Want to preorder tickets?

Nah. In the spirit of the film, I'm sneaking in.

GIF from Star Wars/YouTube.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
True

Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

Keep Reading Show less

Even as millions of Americans celebrated the inauguration of President Joe Biden this week, the nation also mourned the fact that, for the first time in modern history, the United States did not have a peaceful transition of power.

With the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, when pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to stop the constitutional process of counting electoral votes and where terrorists threatened to kill lawmakers and the vice president for not keeping Trump in power, our long and proud tradition was broken. And although presidential power was ultimately transferred without incident on January 20, the presence of 20,000 National Guard troops around the Capitol reminded us of the threat that still lingers.

First Lady Jill Biden showed up today with cookies in hand for a group of National Guard troops at the Capitol to thank them for keeping her family safe. The homemade chocolate chip cookies were a small token of appreciation, but one that came from the heart of a mother whose son had served as well.

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less

Two weeks ago, we watched a pro-Trump mob storm the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to overthrow the results of a U.S. election and keep Donald Trump in power. And among those insurrectionists were well-known adherents of QAnon, nearly every image of the crowd shows people wearing Q gear or carrying Q flags, and some of the more frightening elements we saw tie directly into QAnon beliefs.

Since hints of it first started showing up in social media comments several years ago, I've been intrigued—and endlessly frustrated—by the phenomenon of QAnon. At first, it was just a few fringey whacko conspiracy theorists I could easily roll my eyes at and ignore, but as I started seeing elements of it show up more and more frequently from more and more people, alarm bells started ringing.

Holy crap, there are a lot of people who actually believe this stuff.

Eventually, it got personal. A QAnon adherent on Twitter kept commenting on my tweets, pushing bizarro Q ideas on many of my posts. The account didn't use a real name, but the profile was classic QAnon, complete with the #WWG1WGA. ("Where we go one, we go all"—a QAnon rallying cry.) I thought it might be a bot, so I blocked them. Later, I discovered that it was actually one of my own extended family members.

Holy crap, I actually know people who actually believe this stuff.

Keep Reading Show less

Having lived in small towns and large cities in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Midwest, and after spending a year traveling around the U.S. with my family, I've seen first-hand that Americans have much more in common than not. I've also gotten to experience some of the cultural differences, subtle and not-so-subtle, real and not-so-real, that exist in various parts of the country.

Some of those differences are being discussed in a viral thread on Twitter. Self-described "West coaster" Jordan Green kicked it off with an observation about East coasters being kind and West coasters being nice, which then prompted people to share their own social experiences in various regions around the country.

Green wrote:

"When I describe East Coast vs West Coast culture to my friends I often say 'The East Coast is kind but not nice, the West Coast is nice but not kind,' and East Coasters immediately get it. West Coasters get mad.

Niceness is saying 'I'm so sorry you're cold,' while kindness may be 'Ugh, you've said that five times, here's a sweater!' Kindness is addressing the need, regardless of tone.

I'm a West Coaster through and through—born and raised in San Francisco, moved to Portland for college, and now live in Seattle. We're nice, but we're not kind. We'll listen to your rant politely, smile, and then never speak to you again. We hit mute in real life. ALOT.

Keep Reading Show less