I’ve just joined together with some other Seattle-based film writers to launch a collective site: Parallax View went live this week. I just wrote a piece for it, expanded from some ideas I sketched out here a couple of days ago, on the veneration of colonial politics and imperialist attitudes in his Star Wars films, culminating in the new animated sequel.
What began as his paean to the innocent attitudes of the old sci-fi serials and the swashbuckling thrills of classic Hollywood adventures and pirate movies feels more and more like Kipling in the stars. “Long, long ago” is right. For all the “democracy” of the interstellar parliament, it’s built on aristocracies and monarchies and authority granted as a form of privilege, and the “Senators” (were they really elected, or simply appointed?) all act like it. The films have all the cultural egalitarianism of Gunga Din, with Jedi knights in place of the British soldiers, bringing their benevolent leadership to the battle. Jar-Jar Binks is the most egregious example of the lesser race. Even if he didn’t channel the worst shuffling, babbling, subservient stereotypes of demeaning African-American roles in the thirties and early forties, he’s a child, a happy idiot adopted by the mature human races. Is it a coincidence that, in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith, he’s the dupe manipulated into giving the Chancellor all the power he needs to make himself Emperor?
Read the complete piece here.