"There is a storm coming: a storm of fur and fury."

>> Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's probably safe to say that most Star Wars fans hate Ewoks. I don't think it's the cuteness that's so damn fatal, but the way the little bastards stripped the balls off the Empire: while it was always an old joke that Imperial Stormtroopers couldn't hit squat at close range, they were still an intimidating presence, and in The Empire Strikes Back they tore up a Rebel base in less than fifteen minutes. Maybe they couldn't hit a hero swinging across an absurdly-placed chasm inside a space station at fifteen feet, but they were a menace. Until Return Of The Jedi, when suddenly they're wiped out by teddy bears.

There were really two related problems at play. The first is that obviously the Ewoks aren't supposed to be Ewoks, they were supposed to be Wookies, and Wookies clearly kick ass. The second problem is that George Lucas was sort of obsessed by this kind of warped Vietnam parable, the idea that the greatest military in the world was brought to a screaming halt by people living in the woods; of course this concept is completely wrong, historically speaking--the greatest army in the world was halted by a combination of hubris, politics (domestic and foreign), and a reasonably well-supplied indigenous military motivated by nationalism with nothing to lose and a cadre of leaders with decades of experience fighting the Japanese and then the French. Books have been written about how we lost the Vietnam War--I lack the hands and energy right now to write another--but our adversaries certainly weren't plucky midgets in fur suits armed with slings and spears, they were hardened guerrillas armed with Soviet weapons. But anyway....

The original script for what became Star Wars had the heroes meeting up with Wookies on the Yavin moon and teaching them how to fly spaceships for the attack on the Death Star. When the project got scaled down, Lucas kept one of the Wookies and made him a co-pilot on the ship the heroes use to rescue the Princess. Then Lucas found himself reusing scrapped ideas from Star Wars for Jedi, but since he already had a Wookie--well, let's face it, all he really did was switch syllables. Wook-ie became E-wok. (Or, as a classic Modern Humorist piece put it, "Just bring me the script to the first movie and a fucking Sharpie.")

The thing is, I've always thought Ewoks could be salvaged. I mean, maybe they just look cute. If I were doing a remake of Jedi, I'd probably keep the little fuckers but really make 'em live up to the potential we see during their introduction, when it looks like Luke, Han, Chewie and R2D2 are dinner. Apparently I'm not the only person who's thought along these lines: today's McSweeney's features an xenothropological study on what Ewoks are really like, which informs us:

Ewoks are not the naïve companionable canopy dwellers initially reported by Alliance military sources, but rather a singularly violent, cunning species, driven by perpetual internecine combat and territory acquisition.

...as illustrated, f'r'instance, by the following observation:

Our first exposure to unvarnished Ewok behavior occurred at the victory celebration following the Battle of Endor. We were surprised to discover that the gathering was not just simply a boisterous feast-activity fostering communal bonds and egalitarian resource distribution, but also a ritualistic devouring of 34 captured Imperial storm troopers, who were spit-roasted alive in their armor for seli beli ("to seal in the flavor") and tanga tiru ("divine tang of mortal fear"), a delicacy to the Ewok palate.

C3QP also relayed that the Ewok celebratory phraseology has been grossly misrepresented in Alliance literature: The famous victory chant yub nub/yub nub eee chop yub nub translates not as "freedom/we have freedom" but rather as "eat them/we shall eat them"; elu mali ooloo/emi watu gravo is not "honor the fallen/toast their memory" but "defile their remains/pass water upon their graves"; and the oft-heard salutation yub jub actually translates to "devour the weak."

Now that I'll buy. Teddy bears defeating the Empire, no. Vicious carnivorous warrior tribes that devour the fallen, on the other hand? Those Imperials were brave just to share a planet with them. Now think if the Rebels had shared blaster tech with them (actually, the McSweeney's piece does and reaches a chilling conclusion--read for yourself). In my imaginary remake, those furry buggers would be armed with artillery and blaster rifles by the Bothans, just saying.

Not that it matters: Endor no longer exists as such, all life on the forest moon having been destroyed by radioactive debris followed by a likely artificial winter when some kind of space station abruptly exploded in low orbit 'round the moon. So it's reasonable to say there are no Ewoks. But if there were...? Doubtlessly, they'd be pissing on their enemies right now. Before eating them.


Dr. Phil (Physics) Tuesday, June 2, 2009 at 11:00:00 PM EDT  

They had those sharp teeth... I'll buy it.

Dr. Phil

Jim Wright Monday, June 8, 2009 at 6:16:00 PM EDT  

"oh sure, they're cute now. But they're gonna get mean..."

"Did you guys even watch the show?"

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