Former Mythbusters host Kari Byron says that her young daughter was enthralled by the character Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
“She was just done with princesses when she saw Rey,” Byron says in Episode 313 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “Because it was like, OK, this is a smart badass, and I could see that it was so much more interesting to her than a helpless princess that’s locked in a tower.”
But Byron is well aware that not everyone loves female heroes, a point underscored last week when Kelly Marie Tran, who plays stalwart mechanic Rose Tico in The Last Jedi, deleted her Instagram account presumably after receiving months of verbal abuse. “It’s a strange world that you can’t handle your characters in movies to be girls and kick ass,” Byron says. “That is just crazy.”
She says the level of vitriol directed at stars like Tran is far worse than anything she had to contend with in her early days.
“If I came into this industry right now, just fresh into the internet, I think it would crush my spirits, because it can be so vicious,” she says. “But I started slow with just some Craigslist-y kind of message boards, and I got to build my way up to being able to ignore the awful people.”
She often advises young women on dealing with trolls, and her advice remains consistent—don’t pay attention and don’t engage.
“The minute you engage with a troll, that’s when it’s going to go bad,” she says. “Just let it go. No matter how offended you are, let it go.”
Listen to the complete interview with Kari Byron in Episode 313 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Kari Byron on Mythbusters:
“The network got really crazy for a while, where if they saw a bra strap come out of a tanktop they’d ask us to re-shoot. And I was just thinking, ‘God, that seems like a lot of money. Everybody knows you’re wearing a bra, is it really that big a deal?’ I don’t know if this was just the olden days, or if they were being over-sensitive, but the longer the show was on, the more censored we got. When we first started out there was a lot of humor that was off-color, but in sort of that Warner Bros. cartoon kind of way, where if you’re an adult you’ll get it, if you’re a kid you won’t get it. But then as the show went on, more and more it was like, ‘You can’t say the word ‘hell.’ You can’t say the word ‘fart.””
Kari Byron on science fiction:
“With Mythbusters you have to find a myth, so we actually had to find things that people thought were true and test whether they were true or not, rather than just implementing some wackadoo technology. So we tried to do a lot of science fiction on Mythbusters, but it was really hard for us to do because if it was already a proven thing we couldn’t really test it. So we had to go for things like, ‘Can you control somebody’s mind with crystals?’ It was really hard keeping an open mind with stuff like that, because clearly I come in with a lot of skepticism and I think it’s all crazy. So to try to come up with a legitimate test was always the hardest to do when it came to science fiction.”
Kari Byron on superhero costumes:
“I get really annoyed when I see superheroes in high heels. It just seems so ridiculous and impractical, like the old Wonder Woman when she’d wear her high-heeled go-go boots. I’m like, ‘Yeah that looks great, but really? They are so hard to run in. Why would you ever do that?’ I was happy to see that Black Widow had flats on when she was running in one scene. I was just like, ‘That’s what you’re supposed to wear. You’re supposed to wear flat shoes.’ Boots are great, because the leather will protect you, that’s awesome, maybe some steel toes. But don’t run in high heels, it’s going to slow you down. Unless a knife’s going to come out of that thing, what’s the point?”
Kari Byron on religion:
“I was raised Catholic, and I had a lot of questions that I didn’t find satisfying answers to when I was a kid. I guess it mostly came from when I was around 7 or 8 years old, and I kept asking this one question to my very religious grandmother. I couldn’t understand why my friend Courtney, who was being raised Buddhist, was going to purgatory for not being baptized, or going to hell because she didn’t believe in the same god. I was just like, ‘This is a little girl. Why was she going to hell?’ And I think that was the catalyst moment for me where I just started to question the things that I was being taught from that particular religion, and I somehow just moved away from it.”
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