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"Star Wars" is not just a film series, it's a cultural touchstone.

People know the canon inside and out. Fans dissect every intimate detail, and pass the nostalgia and wonder down to their children like a prized heirloom.


Fans celebrating the release of new "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" merchandise. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images.

So when anyone messes with the canon, it's not going to go unnoticed.

And someone really should've told that to Target. Because the megastore is now the target (pardon the pun) of some serious, and completely justified, nerdrage.

GIF from "30 Rock."

It all started when Target released a T-shirt in its boys' department featuring a scene from the first "Star Wars" film.

The tee has a still from the iconic scene in "Star Wars: A New Hope" in which Darth Vader points an accusatory finger at Princess Leia while aboard her ship. It's one of the few scenes the pair have together, and this scene in particular has been meme'd beyond recognition. Everybody knows it.

So imagine everyone's surprise when Princess Leia was replaced Luke Skywalker on the T-shirt.



In case your memory is fuzzy, Luke Skywalker wasn't in that scene at all. Neither were the storm troopers, but the original guy behind Vader kind of steals focus, so that swap makes sense. But to completely erase Princess Leia's existence in favor of a male character who wasn't even there? C'mon, Target. What were you even thinking?

Naturally, the Internet got wind of the unnecessary edit and gave Target a piece of its collective mind.

Fans, nerds, parents, and anyone sick and tired of the way women are often erased in the media fired back at Target for the glaring misstep.



Aaaaand Target offered a tepid response.


But as of this writing, the shirt is still available for purchase on their site.

This story is bigger than a child's T-shirt. The issue of "female erasure" is all too common.

Contributions from women are overlooked or ignored altogether, and sadly, it often happens in toys and media targeted to children. Especially when the toys are considered "boy toys" because of a weird assumption that boys won't wear or play with things featuring female characters.

Earlier in 2015, two different "Avengers: Age of Ultron" toy sets made headlines for replacing Black Widow with Captain America on the motorcycle that she rides in the movie. Poof! Gone! She wasn't even invited to the party!

Merchandise for "Guardians of the Galaxy," another Marvel property, was also widely criticized for purposefully removing the sole female Guardian, Gamora, from the team.

Photo by iStock.

It's also a little disheartening to see Target, who abandoned gender-based signage in the toy area in favor of an all-inclusive shopping experience, erase Princess Leia from her own story.It bears repeating: C'mon Target!

It benefits all kids to see dynamic, active, adventurous female characters in their stories.

For example, one study found that, across 333 speaking characters shown in professional roles in G-rated films, 80.5% were men and 19.5% were female. The fact that merchandise would then erase those roles when it comes time to make the toy set or T-shirt is just insulting — not to mention it sets a harmful example for what it means to be a woman on a team.

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Photo by iStock.

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