Friday, 15 April 2011

125: F is for Fluffy

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The A-to-Z of the GFFA.

Q. When is it okay to sympathise with a man-eating, savage (yet highly intelligent) animal?
A. When they've got their own cartoon!

Ahh, the Ewoks. Upon a time, these cute little funsters were derided by fans of the saga, claiming they were an indication of the kid-friendly marketing-bias of the franchise in its later years (like there's ever been anything but). This viewpoint seemed to pale in 1999 when the Gungans from The Phantom Menace took their place, and the Ewoks suddenly seemed cool again.

In all honesty, I've got no issue at all with the cuddliness of the Ewoks, or the cartoon spinoff and plush toys. I understand why they're important to the narrative of Return of the Jedi, and I get that they're there to represent the triumph of teamwork and community over the cold, impersonal Empire. I don't really mind that cute things exist in the GFFA, and an animated series aimed at kids is absolutely fine in my book.
It's more that, as a species, they seem to be blowing hot and cold, and to me, this contradicts itself...

Pleased to eat, erm, MEET you.

They appear very primitive when we first meet them in RotJ. Living in the forest, wearing skins and baiting traps with raw meat. But they're not total savages, they have a complex society, with social structures and heirarchies. They've mastered building techniques, fire and weapons. They even have a system of verbal communication and they mourn the dead. They're actually very advanced.

But let's not forget, folks, that the Ewok tribe featured in RotJ were about to EAT our heroes before Luke intervened and made them believe that C-3PO was a god. They'd already had a negative experience with the Imperial forces on-planet, admittedly, but remember Leia is in the hut (more about that later), so they know that not all humans are evil invaders. Even when C-3PO tells them that their dinner just wants to be friends, they're STILL going to roast them alive until they're scared out of it. Ignoring the fact that dinner is still wearing its clothes (I don't think the inclusion of naked rebel heroes would help with the 'U' certificate), they're going to roast people alive and eat them.

Ewok percussion. Pre-snack included.

Have you ever wondered about that party at the end of RotJ? They're using Stormtrooper helmets as musical instruments. What do you thing happened to the heads that were in them? It looks to me like the Rebellion brought the beer and wine, and the Ewoks supplied the nibbles. By this point in the film, we know that they're a noble species, proudly standing up against the tyranny and colonisation of the Empire, teaming up with the good guys (not terrorists, no), and reclaiming their land for freedom. They were still going to eat a bunch of strangers, though. Probably without cutlery or napkins.

What I'm veering toward is; why are the Ewoks so different from the Sandpeople?

Masters of the unprovoked-attack.

"[they're] esaily startled, but they'll soon be back, and in greater numbers."
Ben Kenobi, 0BBY

"[They] walk like men, but they're vicious, mindless monsters."
Owen Lars, 22BBY

"They're animals, and I slaughtered them like animals."
Anakin Skywalker, 22BBY

The above quotes wouldn't seem out of place coming from an Imperial trooper or officer on Endor. As a species, the Ewoks are proud, territorial hunters with strong rituals and traditions, just like the Tusken Raiders. Now, granted, in 2002's Attack of the Clones, we see that the Tuskens have captured Anakin's mother Shmi, and are basically torturing her to death (along with who knows what else). While I'll admit that this type of sadism doesn't seem likely of the Ewoks, in an Original Trilogy context, there's very little difference between the two species. The Expanded Universe cites a long, antagonistic history between the Sandpeople on Tatooine and the human settlers, the accumulation of which has resulted in deliberate attacks on human settlements like the one in which Shmi was kidnapped. Who's to say that a few thousand years of inconsiderate human colonisation on Endor wouldn't lead to the same situation?

From an in-universe perspective, I'm amazed the Empire didn't destroy everything on Endor within a 500 click radius of where they built the Death Star's Shield Generator. It's not like they needed anything from the surface of the planet, and the surrounding foliage and wildlife only led to trouble anyway. It can't have been for camouflage, as you've got a building broadcasting a stream of energy into space - a few trees aren't going to hide that from the most basic scanner.

The only thing separating the Ewoks and the Sandpeople seems to be their moralistic outlook. And if there's anything that the Star Wars saga has taught us, it's that morals are fairly subjective. Rebels or terrorists? Jedi Council or a religious sect, functioning as a police-force for a corrupt government? Indiginous population or savages? Take your pick.

Ah, little monsters!

Just think twice when your local Ewok tribe invite you and your friends round for dinner.

Oh, and while I'm on about this timeframe in Endor history; you know when Luke and C-3PO convince the Ewoks not to eat the Rebel scout party? When Leia finally comes out to see what all the commotion is, why is she wearing that dress?

What DO you think you're wearing?

• It's not like Leia was dressed 'inappropriately' when she was brought to the village and needed covering up.
• The Ewoks have no reason to have a human-sized dress lying about, someone must have made that for her, and pretty quickly.
• It's not like her combat fatigues were irreparably damaged, she's seen wearing them again for the final battle.

Traditionally, multiple costume changes have been criticised as a vehicle for selling more/different action figures. But this outfit wasn't produced in the 1980's Kenner/Palitoy line. We didn't get this figure until around 1998.

It just seems like an enormous waste of time considering there's a major ground-battle imminent, and Leia's busy in a hut somewhere going "oh, that's nice, I'd love a dress made out of that..."

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• Photos and videos appearing in this blog post are for informational and reference purposes only, and no ownership of copyright is claimed or implied by me. The intellectual and physical copyright of such material belongs to its creators and owners.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

No comments:

Post a Comment