A People's History of Tatooine
July 17, 2014 7:02 PM   Subscribe

I am awed by how obsessive our culture is with these movies, that we remember such details as Luke grabbing the bartender's sleeve.

Happy 486th (tagged) Star Wars story on MeFi, everybody.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:06 PM on July 17, 2014 [4 favorites]

486 ?
That number seems low. We need more Star Wars posts.
posted by Flood at 7:13 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

If it's good enough for Kottke, it's good enough for MeFi. We haven't completely turned into Plastic yet, by god.
posted by entropicamericana at 7:17 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

This would be even better as a Tumblr dash, slowly scrolling past with interruptions of Leia in a gold bikini and blaster, and Luke staring meaningfully at Han Solo.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:19 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

You know, I run into this issue on reddit a lot where we end up talking about how the aims of political correctness is to be mindful of your language and to recognize the power of its use. Usually this ends up with a bunch of people asking what the heck the big deal is. I guess I'm sensitive because I used to get mocked a lot for being like the one of three Chinese kids in my class of 300+ usually with South Park as that vehicle. This would often extend into my group of friends who should've known better but they were like 15 and also somewhat socially ostracized.

So movements that go against this political incorrectness, that might have made my life at school less miserable, I am 100% behind. Generally, things that mock these movements as insignificant push the button for me because it's like, man, I would like people to take this stuff seriously because I think it's important not to feel like a dong just for being me and people who are arguing in favor of this seem to really get that.

Dunno, just my immediate reaction.
posted by saucy_knave at 7:21 PM on July 17, 2014 [14 favorites]

Is a bunch of tweets riffing on political correctness using Star Wars as a vehicle really Best of Web?

Yes, if it gives me an excuse to repost this.
posted by Greg_Ace at 7:31 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

Reading through the tweets, there was definitely a turn in there. Obi-Wan As Racist Shack Dweller morphed into hurhurpoliticalrectnessamirite.

My main, previously unconsidered, takeaway was 'yeah, it was pretty dumb to move the kid of the guy who slaughtered an entire tribe of the locals in next to said locals AS A PLAN T KEEP HIM HIDDEN.' "Yes, James Forsyth Jr, we will hide you at Wounded Knee next to all these Lakota! Nothing bad will ever come of this!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:39 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you're into this sort of thing, I can't recommend The Star Wars Minute podcast enough. One of their ongoing theories is that Obi Wan (both alive and dead) is a dick manipulating everyone and lying his head off. They also answer pressing questions like "Why didn't Chewbacca get a medal?" (hint: racism) and "what do you think the Death Star smelled like?" (also I think racism)
posted by Mchelly at 7:43 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm only on page 3, and this is coloured by my weekend plan to introduce my husband and kids to the Original Star Wars trilogy which they have not yet seen (I just assumed he had seen it, but he really is a freak and just nodded along when I would talk about Leia and re-enact stuff) so I read it as a lovely way for me to re-experience the film with this different view, and it was hilarious, especially given Lucas' terrible, terrible tone-deaf racism in the second trilogy.

I always wanted to know the story behind Oola as a kid because she seemed like she deserved a film of her own. Man, Star Wars is a lot like Teen Wolf - a tone-deaf yet gifted creator working with awesome ideas and actors who try to do something with that idiocy they're given that makes it spark.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:45 PM on July 17, 2014 [3 favorites]

Well, everyone knows Custer died at Little Bighorn. What this book presupposes is... maybe he didn't?
posted by ftm at 8:03 PM on July 17, 2014 [10 favorites]

This is actually pretty funny.
posted by straight at 8:05 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I didn't take it that way, for what it's worth, saucy_knave, or I wouldn't have posted it. I more saw it as as riffing/poking-fun at the "people's history" genre, which is a genre that I appreciate a great deal.

But also, as I'm sitting with it and considering your reaction, I do see where it slips into mocking "political correctness"[1] a little more than I did when first reading it. I think that prior to that, though, it has some merit as something that examines from a different light the most successful iteration of the Campbellian monomyth, even if it does so with tongue firmly in cheek. (I'm not sure one could do it another way.) I always struggle, when watching a story, with the presence of "background" people (like the Tuskens and Jawas) whose role is reduced to an obstacle for the hero to kill, especially where, as here, the "background" people are clearly meant to be Other.

It is by now a commonplace to say that in Star Wars, Lucas is playing in the sandbox of fascism, and one of the pernicious things about fascism is how it replicates itself by mirror-image. To me the most shocking thing, in retrospect, about A New Hope is that scene where Obi Wan is in the Death Star, working on turning off the tractor beam, and there are two Stormtroopers on the catwalk, and they are bitching about the shift change or something. It's the only time we ever see the Stormtroopers having a personality. We never see their faces, and outside of that scene, I could have believed what my father told me, which was that Stormtroopers were robots. They are nameless and faceless, which means it is okay to kill them by the thousands, because of who they are, which is the ones who believe it's okay to kill thousands of others because of who they are. You literally can't tell them apart, and they are all the same color. Those are the bad guys, and I'm not pulling some kind of double-reverse, "Star Wars is racist against white people" bullshit, I'm saying that flattening the individuality of "them" is a tool that corrupts the user, even if a particular "them" really is, in some sense, the oppressor.

In these stories, in which fascism is perpetuating itself, there are always people it is okay to kill because of who or what they are. And, to the extent that the link shines a light on, say, the premise that the "sand people" are people it is okay to kill, I hope it has value. I found at least some of the humor to come from being surprised that I hadn't questioned these things before in this way.

So: of course you are right, but also I hope that you will not take the post or these remarks as dismissive of what you are saying, or of your lived experience.

[1] With big it's-complicated caveats around, first, the notion of "political correctness" as something that is particularly a creature the social justice or the left to begin with, and, second, the naive idea that the official (non-people's) history is any less a thing of political correctness.
posted by gauche at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2014 [19 favorites]

Makes sense to me. Years ago, before the prequels, I had a friend who claimed that "Whomp rat" is racist slang for "Tusken Raider". They aren't much bigger than two meters, and they're certainly mad about something.
posted by surlyben at 8:20 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

We need to make one important change in definitions. Sexism, racism, offensiveness, insensitivity, bullying... THAT is what's truly Politically CORRECT in America. Always has been, and it's going to take a lot more than what we've done to change it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:35 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

I don't care what the theory is so long as podracing comes out looking worse.
posted by michaelh at 8:38 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I didn't read it as mocking, at the start at least. The Old Man Kenobi stuff is totally supported by the text, IMO: Luke is a little shit sometimes
and Kenobi really makes it clear he feels like he's slumming it.

I love Star Wars but its hella problematic and this was poking fun at that rather than the actual People's History concept.
posted by griphus at 8:39 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

Also: "and the Greater Mos Eisley Business Improvement District doesn’t care about the rantings of a separatist hermit" is fucking brilliant.
posted by griphus at 8:40 PM on July 17, 2014 [10 favorites]

posted by PlusDistance at 8:46 PM on July 17, 2014 [13 favorites]

I get that and cultural hegemony and its accompanying disenfranchisement are important lessons to learn. It's a little weird to see that Star Wars is how you come to that realization since there are more than enough examples in real history to accompany that lesson and many of those still are visible in your day-to-day but a lesson learned is a lesson learned. It's really cool to see that even one-off jokey links are posted with that much thought.

What I don't get is the explicit acknowledgement that this is riffing on political correctness and that doing so is Best of Web. If the response to my question had been, noo, you're wrong dude, this is like a serious attempt to introduce the dialectic of power and culture into Star Wars, you just don't know that because you're not enough of a nerd, I would totally get that. But people were pretty blunt that it was about PCness and it wasn't hard for me to see how this was the most obvious and immediate takeaway. When I read "also Sand People is not the preferred nomenclature." or "Jedi Man's Burden." it just sounds like pretty typical internet mash-up culture (like Woot shirts) that takes these two things and mixes them to produce an absurdity. I mean, I don't think people are overtly dismissive of oppression narratives but my general takeaway from everyday interactions is that they just don't care enough about them to ruin their hee haws.

Also, some of it does seem awfully insensitive to what the actual discourse about racism and oppression looks like in the modern day which is not this History/Anthro 101 course on neocolonialism in the 18th century a la Howard Zinn. Like, 'Yoda spoke that way because his parents spoke that way, his parents meant a lot to him and it's valuable for his self-identity to remember that' is closer to that goal but it's still like, jeez, it takes a green puppet on a silver screen to make you realize that people don't like to have their speech patterns mocked even if it sounds silly and wrong to you? But yeah, I guess this is the part where I'm just whinging around in a full circle so it's probably better for me to call it a night. Thanks for engaging gauche, it was really nice to see a good faith effort. I'm sorry for ruining the mood.
posted by saucy_knave at 9:03 PM on July 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

saucy_knave: "What I don't get is the explicit acknowledgement that this is riffing on political correctness and that doing so is Best of Web."
- "best of the web" even though it's a deprecated phrase

posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:04 AM on October 20, 2009
posted by Chrysostom at 9:11 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

saucy_knave: "What I don't get is the explicit acknowledgement that this is riffing on political correctness"

It mostly reads to me as "riffing with" not "riffing against". It seems more like people who believe in PC having fun using those tools on unimportant subject matter than people who dislike PC using those tools on unimportant subject matter in order to make fun of PC.

But, y'know, it's a twitter thread involving 20 people (if I counted correctly), so I wouldn't be surprised if it was a mix of the former and the latter.
posted by Bugbread at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

They also answer pressing questions like "Why didn't Chewbacca get a medal?"

Remember how Chewie flipped out when Luke and Han tried cuffing him as their fake prisoner? You try putting something that resembles a collar around a wookiee's neck.
posted by Spatch at 9:33 PM on July 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

486 ?
That number seems low. We need more Star Wars posts.

How about The Empire in all it's glory?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:04 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Star Wars is racist against white people"

Notably, AotC retcons the clones/stormtroopers so they aren't white.
posted by biffa at 11:14 PM on July 17, 2014

Mod note: A few comments deleted. If you want to discuss why you think something is a bad post, either make a Metatalk thread, or contact the mods rather than derail the discussion.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:42 PM on July 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

I really like reinterpretations of texts like this, and Star Wars makes so little fucking sense that it's ripe for it. It did veer into 'lol political correctness' after a bit, though.

I've been messing with my headcanon for the Kushiel saga b Jaqueline Carey a bit lately since I had the realization that the D'Angelines probably aren't actually supernaturally pretty, they're just really into thinking that they are because racism, and that their being long-lived is likely just because they have resource rich land and so are decently fed. So yeah, I dig the use of social justice concepts as a lens for interpreting fiction.
posted by NoraReed at 1:32 AM on July 18, 2014 [4 favorites]

I saw the first installment of Star Wars seven times with my friends and then three times with my grandfather back in 1977.

The rest of it

I'm watching The Clone Wars on Netflix with my 14 year old granddaughter. So much fun.

We're also watching Foyle's War. This weekend we're going fly fishing...
posted by Pudhoho at 2:33 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

I sick to death of Star Wars anything. However, this looks like fun. "Two months ago, a bunch of bored dads idly checking Twitter on a Saturday started riffing on racism in Star Wars" sounds like something I'd want to check out. So, good work on making something I'd even THINK about checking out that has to do with Star Wars.

In summary: I hope there is not a 487th post.
posted by josher71 at 6:36 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

I am watching A New Hope tonight with a date who has never seen it, and this is going to give me a VERY different perspective on it on what would otherwise be the umpteenth viewing.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:15 AM on July 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Chewbacca doesn't get a medal for the same reason R2D2 doesn't. They are a pair of the rebellions best deep-cover agents, and secret agents don't get medals in public ceremonies.
posted by WhackyparseThis at 8:45 AM on July 18, 2014 [5 favorites]

That was really funny...
posted by subdee at 9:32 AM on July 18, 2014

I hope that there is a 487th post, but it isn't about the films, new or old, but rather about some random EU minutiae like Force philosophies or galactic astropolitical analyses or the morality of the Imperial Knights in the Legacy comics.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:09 AM on July 18, 2014

WhackyparseThis, I first read that as a fun What-If, but it made so much sense (internal consistency) that it has sunk into my head as the right story.

Nowadays I'm surprised when someone disagrees; I tend to think of them as Chewbacca Deniers.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:28 AM on July 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bullseyeing womp rats in your T-16? Did you also torture rats with a hacksaw or pull the wings off of flies?
posted by ckape at 10:45 AM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

"Poor sand-people. Look what they've been reduced to. I bet with a little education and a homeworld they could make something out their lives."
This didn't feel quite right to go with the posted link, but then I saw gauche's comment too...
posted by roystgnr at 11:01 AM on July 18, 2014

WhackyparseThis: Chewbacca doesn't get a medal for the same reason R2D2 doesn't. They are a pair of the rebellions best deep-cover agents, and secret agents don't get medals in public ceremonies.

The linked piece is really good.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:08 PM on July 18, 2014

Force Schmorce! The Force Skeptics page will tell you how those charlatan "jedi" perform their tricks.
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 12:21 PM on July 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

Too funny, thanks for the Friday afternoon laughs.

Even as a kid I noticed Luke tugging at the bartenders sleeve, it smacked of... thinking he was higher class somehow? Like yea Mos Eisley is a dive but some white kid from the suburbs can't suddenly come in and start ordering people around. Not cool, Luke.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:21 PM on July 18, 2014

Tomorrowful update please?
posted by Mchelly at 6:47 PM on July 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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