strongly agree | agree | neutral | disagree | strongly disagree
I’m forever torn between that I do think it’s fair to criticize that I don’t think Padme was given enough consideration for her role in things and was basically written to serve Anakin’s story a lot of the time, so I get the idea that her death was misogynistic through that lens, but you have to understand that Padme’s death has deep, deep significance for me and the things I’ve struggled with my entire life.
I’m going to put a preface on this because I need everyone to read this and understand something important: I do not think others have to agree with this interpretation, I understand why people wouldn’t, and that’s fine. But that there needs to be room for me to have this interpretation and that I would ask people to consider the way they talk about Padme’s death with a little bit of care, because it’s very easy to slip into talking about her in a way that is very hurtful to some people. But that that is not the same as saying you must agree with this interpretation and that distinction is one I have made explicitly and repeatedly.
For me, Padme’s death hit on my struggle with suicidal ideation that I’ve had nearly all my life. The way she gives up on life and dies from it, I felt that. If you pressed me to explain my feelings at my lowest points, I have said in the past, “It’s not that I want to die, it’s that I don’t want to be alive anymore.” Maybe that distinction doesn’t make sense to other people, but it’s one that I’ve felt in my heart for a long time and I still have to work on sometimes. Padme being physically perfectly healthy but being unable to live in that galaxy anymore after everything was taken from her, after she wound up so alone and isolated, after she seemed burnt out and unable to keep going, there’s a lot I can relate to in that.
And what I mean about having care with the way people speak about this, is many times I’ve seen criticism of it as, “Padme wouldn’t just give up! She’s not a weak bitch like that.” or “Padme wouldn’t just want to die, she’s too strong for that!” as if strong people never face depression or suicidal thoughts. As if someone couldn’t be dealing with this because they were better than that, like only terrible people face depression and giving up on life.
I won’t say that Padme’s story was deliberately written as depression+suicidal thoughts, because I don’t think it was. But it’s something that accidentally hit on a lot of the same themes and chalking it up to just being somehow unworthy of Padme Amidala, that makes me feel like they would say the same thing about my own struggles, that, oh, if that’s the kind of issue you have to face, you’re lesser for it, too. I know they wouldn’t mean it, but it’s hard to hear anyway.
This is not to say we can’t criticize the almost assured lack of thought given to Padme’s reasons for dying and that that part is misogynistic, just that I ask for some consideration in the framing of how we talk about an ending for a character that’s going to resonate with some people who struggle with this kind of issue. And that Padme’s death does have a lot of meaning for me, one that wasn’t meant to be there, but wound up resonating with me and actually helping me, because it reminds me to reach out to the people around me, that strength isn’t about standing alone, but instead really doing some soul-searching and connecting to all the people around me, including friends and family. Just as Anakin’s story has meaning for me, to remind me to not let my fears and anxieties run rampant, so too do Padme’s increasing isolation over the course of the movies and her burning herself too hard and flaming out remind me to stop and breathe and take care of myself.