Last night I was scanning a two-day-old Force Awakens spoiler article in The Week, which states that one of the characters will suffer a “traumatic death.” (This is the prime reason, I suspect, why the tie-in novelization is being delayed.) And something just snapped. I’m going to avoid this stuff for the next few weeks, if I can help it. Reports that BB-8, the successor to R2-D2, is female are all over the British web, but I’m really sorry to have absorbed this, however true or untrue it may be. I’m even sorrier that the producers may (and I’m emphasizing that word) have gender-ized a droid in the first place. How would a female droid respond to data or danger differently than a male droid? Who thought up the idea of gender-influenced droid behavior? Doesn’t that argue with the basic concept of the term “droid”? 8:30 am Update: A reliable source confides that BB-8 is gender-free.

Mentally unstable production source, if verified: “There’s never been a strong female robot in any Star Wars film, but [director J.J. Abrams] was determined to make BB-8 cute and strong — and female. They want to appeal to girls as much boys, who have traditionally been the fan base. She’s going to be one of the breakout hits of the film.” HE to Abrams: Please tell me this isn’t true. But if it is, sometime down the road please tell me that when the concept of a female BB-8 was first broached you said to Kathy Kennedy or whomever, “Why are we even discussing gender in a droid? How does BB-8’s gender…I can’t believe I’m asking this…how does BB-8’s gender enhance the narrative?” And that Kennedy or whomever said, “Well, we can sell more tickets by reaching out beyond the traditional male-centric fan base.” And you said, “Sell more tickets?” Again: BB-8, being a droid, has no gender. The British press rumors are bullshit.