some guy (self) wrote,
some guy

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Social Commentary: Themes of racism in Star Wars video games

Rented the new Star Wars: Obi Wan game. It's pretty fun. But this is worth mentioning:

As the story begins, you've just completed a patrol of the area. Whatever great evil you were looking for, there's no sign of, so you might as well head back. You're warned, however, that the journey won't be a safe one - it's the bad part of town, and the folks you encounter will mostly be criminals. Jedi being the law and all, they don't like you much. Can't say I blame 'em.

So, this explanation is practically interrupted by a random attack. Your assailant carries a blaster, which you can easily take away with your "Force Pull" ability. Unarmed, he runs away.

Fine upstanding citizen that you are, you might chase after the guy and slash him from behind with your lightsaber, instantly killing an unarmed man whose continued existance posed no threat to you. One might criticize you for throwing away an opportunity to interrogate and learn more about your mysterious enemies. Or they might point out that by lashing out in anger, you've taken your first step down the inexorable path to the Dark Side. Either way, one would be contradicting LucasArts, for the game proceeds without the slightest hint of a penalty.

In this way, the game is fully consistant with Episode I. But that's a discussion for another time.

Jumping back some years to the release of Star Wars for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (aka SNES)... The game roughly follows the plot of the first movie, filling in gaps here and there with side missions designed to lenghten the game.

So... Luke Skywalker is walking through the desert, when he encounters C-3PO for the first time. "My friend R2-D2 has been kidnapped," he implores. "Please rescue him."

On the word of this robot he's never met before, Luke proceeds to invade the Jawa transport, slaughtering all the sentient lifeforms that get in his way. He rescues R2-D2 from the nomadic salespeople, and the two robots (whose intrinsic value must outweigh the countless lives taken) become Luke's property.

Again, the fact that this contradicts the movie's basic message of "all living things are imbued with something more important and powerful than can ever be approximated with machinery" is best discussed another time.

What should be pointed out, however, is that the enemies in both scenarios were aliens. They look different from our hero, and talk in funny languages. Were this not so, parents would be outraged. But, there are no protests, because we're apparently comfortable with the idea that anyone different from us has less value than the objects we control.

Part of me realizes I'm reading way too much into this, but the rest of me thinks it's just the tip of the iceberg. Intentions aside, this culture is deeply rooted in things our children should never learn...
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