The periphery in Star Wars

Science fiction is a genre that imagines how scientific advances will shape our future world, and also how the human will will give way to the power of technology. Behind every wonder of the human mind lies a purpose, and a corresponding dilemma between good and evil. The history of our species from the remotest antiquity.

In 2000 leagues under the sea Jules Verne anticipated the submarine from the prototypes that were already sailing for his time, and foreshadowed a lonely captain Nemo, focused on protecting his world through the missiles of his ship the Nautilus. Similarly, George Orwell described the future of political persecution based on practices of organization, espionage and psychological manipulation already visible in Europe in 1948. Problematic science fiction, on the other hand, did not see colonization on Mars favorably. In the Martian Chronicles, author Ray Bradbury describes the bleak and pessimistic picture of scientific evolution. The initial fears of the forerunners of the genre, evident in frankenstein by Mary Shelley, were later called by Isaac Asimov as “the Frankenstein complex”.

Given the works mentioned, perhaps a film like Star Wars add little to the approaches already outlined, but it is convenient to consider it given its perspective on the socio-political reality of recent years. For example, in parallel with the civilist movements of the sixties, the television series star travel, by Gene Roddenbery, embraced the ethical orientation and with the character of Lieutenant Uhura, embraced the diversity of races on the set. Although in these stories the “bad guys or villains” were still in many cases characters with monstrous or Chinese features, dark and with “accents” marked by the letter “r” or other exotic sounds for English, the creator of the series would remain as forerunner of changes. The cultural variety of the bridge crew members would initiate the characteristics of this interplanetary community in later series and films. It is also interesting to infer the model of man, the type of societies to which they would be targeting with the configuration of that homogeneity-heterogeneity of the communities, in addition to the characteristics of those spaces of power and the periphery. The futuristic projection would come to raise technological frontiers, the challenges of coexistence between nations, between individuals of different races, creeds and ideologies.

Within the framework of this project of coexistence between men and women of different origins, cultures and creeds, in Star Wars There are two defined spaces, that of the centers of power and those of the periphery. The Death Star and the political center of the republic (let’s call it New York from now on, as it is the city of skyscrapers that hosts the UN) and even the organized city of Naboo; contrasts with those forgotten planets, whether desert or forested, where threatened characters like Luke Skywalker or Obi Wan Kenobi take refuge. Due to their distance from the center, at least in appearance they do not represent a danger to the persecuted. It is there where smugglers and cheats by trade like Han Solo abound, whose cowboy clothing symbolically places him in another marginal space, that of the American Wild West. In these desert planets where high technology strangely coexists with poverty and desolation, one can appreciate an aesthetic of the unfinished, of the ugly because it is asymmetrical, out of the norm, of the evident improvisation in the crooked and dusty roads, the shops temporary street markets (buhoneros), and why not? the beautiful houses of North Africa, closely linked to the characteristics and colors of the land, as an extension of the latter. Between neutral and chaotic, in these directions neither the republic nor the empire seems to exist, but another world. We could even identify it not only with countries like ours, equally outside the New York, Paris or Tokyo radius of influence, but even further, with our miserable relations with border communities. It’s about the world where both dissidents and outlaws without creed such as Han solo and his friend Lando could hide.

In that same scenario of a copious modern plurality, colorful and diverse characters such as dwarfs or giants, toads or various reptiles, bumblebees and disproportionate humanoids, have fun playing the music of the suburbs and dancing to it with the greatest freedom and self-confidence. Contrary to the periphery, the centers of power have an architecture of perfect lines (New York) or semi-spherical Renaissance domes in the case of Naboo. The charm of the suburbs lies in the profusion of shapes and colors that appear disordered precisely because they are inclusive. Contrasting this heterogeneity of the plural is the military symmetry of the empire’s soldiers, whose uniformity excludes other orders. Analyzed the images from the perspective of democratic values ​​and their ideals of freedom and diversity, the empire with its order of blacks and grays, its alienated and weak clones in white, its clear similarities with Nazi clothing and its martial rhythms refer us to authoritarian hegemony. Similarly, the shine of Darth Vader’s helmet becomes the sign of implacable asepsis, and through the size of the character, a tyrant is denoted with a robotic voice that appeals to our recondite fears of machines.

The path of human and environmental rights, those of human evolution, those of the arts of peace do not go as fast as those of science and technology, in the same way that the ostracism and hatred of Captain Nemo are far from the versatility and performance of the Nautilus. It strengthens, however, to know that this project of societies that includes the recognition of the other and mutual respect is found in the imaginary of science fiction. Beyond our fears of technology and power out of control, coexistence continues to be a yearning.

version of my presentation The aesthetics of power and the periphery. An analysis of the space

Star Wars. UNEG. 2004

The periphery in Star Wars – Correo del Caroní