Friday, June 6, 2014

If Boba Fett is Indeed a Slave Catcher Then '12 Years a Slave's' Lupita Nyong'o Had Best Be Careful While on the Set of the New 'Star Wars' Films

I would, again, like to thank the folks who have donated to WARN's fundraiser. We are halfway to the goal I have set.

Moreover, the sooner we reach it, the faster I can turn of my NPR fundraising voice and pull the begging bowl back in. Once more, if you can and are able, please do throw a few bits of gold and silver into the collection plate to support the site.

Something for the "ghetto nerds"...

JJ Abrams' Star Wars is moving in the right direction--or so it seems. I have downgraded my anxiety about the Star Wars sequels from high to medium with the announcement of an amazing cast, some great shots of the set, and Abrams' commitment to using practical special effects in the new movies.

I did not have a healing paroxysm when I saw these "leaked" photos of the Millennium Falcon and an X-wing which are being built for the film. I felt more of a rumbling. I also smiled at Abrams' photo of the Falcon's iconic chess board from A New Hope (remember, let the Wookie win!).

The Oscar winning actress Lupita Nyong'o has been announced as joining the new Star Wars film. A million voices did not scream out in terror at the thought of a black woman being a character in George Lucas' fabled franchise. I am surprised given that the Whiteness of science fiction and geek fandom can be so very oppressive. My only worry is that she may be covered up with so much makeup and prosthetic devices that the viewer will not be able to see that her character is in fact a "black" woman.

I call this the Enemy Mine/Star Trek syndrome. In all, I am happy that there is some human diversity in a galaxy, "far, far away".

I am an expert on the Star Wars films. I say that not to boast; it is a simple statement of fact.

There was a very interesting essay on the mythos surrounding the iconic and much-loved Boba Fett character that called attention to some details about him, hidden in plain sight, that caught me and one of of my fellow expert Star Wars travelers by surprise.

Rich Goldstein has written up a great summary of the mystery surrounding the Boba Fett character and his role in the new Star Wars films at The Daily Beast.

I have read most of the Expanded Universe material about Boba Fett. From the roleplaying games, comics, and books, I gleamed that he was a bounty hunter, "skip tracer", likely a clone (before this was revealed by the Prequels), and had a vendetta against Wookies. This would explain why Boba Fett wore pieces of their pelts as war prizes.

[For the record, I felt that Fett's backstory should have been left unexplored. I also believe that the armor matters more than the person in it. As alluded to by an E.U. story from some years ago, what if Boba Fett is not one person, but many? The armor is "inherited" from one bounty to the next.]

George Lucas is a very literate director and writer--he has a deep knowledge of cinema; thus, his work is very inter-textual. For example, the love scenes in Attack of the Clones where Anakin and Amidala are sitting in a grassy field is a direct allusion to the Sound of Music and its themes about the imminent threat posed by fascism.

Could there be something even more sinister and dark Boba Fett than what is commonly known?

Rich Goldstein details how:
By the 20th century, bounty hunting had come to be associated with Western genre films, from whose narrative conventions Star Wars liberally borrows, but the profession harkens back to the pre-American Civil War slave catchers in narratives like 12 Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup, and other personal accounts like those collected at The Library of Congress website. The prequel trilogy introduced the character’s father, Jango Fett, whom is believed to be named after the 1966 Sergio Corbucci film Django (which also inspired the 2012 film Django Unchained, also about a former slave turned bounty hunter). Boba Fett’s ship is also called the Slave I.
The scalps and other body parts of First Nations peoples were collected as part of the United States' and Mexico's campaign of genocide against them. The body parts of black lynching victims were sold as "souvenirs" to whites. Confederate guerrillas were also known to have taken the scalps of Union soldiers as war prizes.  If Goldstein is correct, and Boba Fett's "father" is an allusion to the film character "Django" and the Civil War era South and West--a claim which I believe to be accurate--then the character, and his iconic ship "Slave 1", just got a whole lot more borrow from the common vernacular.

Science fiction and fantasy, like other genres, are not about the future or some alternate reality. No, they are mirrors and reflections of our collective subconscious. Likewise, our history lives--and is often distorted--through popular culture. Pleasure through mass media does not exist unmoored from history. Context matters.

12 Years a Slave meets Star Wars and Boba FettThat is a story I would like to see.

What are you feelings about the new Star Wars films so far? What are your hopes and fears? Are there any other characters from film or TV who, like Boba Fett, are very much misunderstood?

In response to that last question I would include Don Draper from Mad Men, Omar from The Wire, and the titular characters from The Munsters.


D. Wright said...

Have you ever considered the horrible possibility of the rebirth of the Slaveocracy when/if we colonize the Solar System? Personally, I find it all but inevitable.

Lewis Orne said...

I was thinking Lupita might be cast as asajj ventress, which would mean heavy makeup. Though perhaps Gwendoline Christie might take that role if the character is in the film.

chauncey devega said...

I hope she isn't related to Obi-Wan. Asajj, yup. That definitely works.

chauncey devega said...

It is the natural order of things, is it not?

joe manning said...

Remember the Edgar Buchanan character who rubs his bald head and gloats to his fellow cavalrymen that he doesn't have to worry about being scalped. It seemed funny at the time but it was a frightening liability to have a full head of hair back in those days. I won't give away the 1st half season of Mad Men but one senses that Don Draper's noble efforts to rehabilitate himself are doomed.

Myshkin the Idiot said...

Loved Omar from the Wire.

Totally off topic: I finished reading 12 Years a Slave a couple weeks ago and looked into Patsey after Solomon left the plantation.

Someone did some good research into her life which was completely inconclusive, but nonetheless inspired some thought.

She said Solomon Northrup disappears from census records by 1960, though there is no record of his death. What if Northrup became an underground railroad conductor and worked to free Patsey and other slaves of the Deep South?

Wishful thinking.

Miles_Ellison said...

Based on the predominance of neo-minstrels and servant porn in the "post racial" Obama era, let's just hope she doesn't wind up being Mrs. Jar Jar Binks.

DoGoOn said...

There's a great webcomic called Titan about the tension between neo-colonial human expansion into our solar system and their post-human working class.

DoGoOn said...

did you hear the rumor that the story is centered on Boyega's character maybe playing Luke to Master Skywalker's Yoda?

D. Wright said...

And silly me believed I came up with something novel. Thank you for the rec.