Just in time for the holidays, HBO Family has been running Episodes lV, V and Vl of the Star Wars trilogy. Lots of television time to waste in between family outings, driving up and down the Garden State Parkway or sitting out the cold weather.
As a product of the 1970s, I’m also invariably a product of the Star Wars generation. Before the Episodes l, ll and lll came along, the Star Wars trilogy raised many a children like myself with its mixture of mysticism, classic story telling and friggin laser beams. So, when any of the Episodes lV through Vl are on television, they get me attention and whisk me back to a time when life was simpler and Darth Vader was the only reason to be afraid of the dark. Such as today.
The Empire Strikes Back was on when I woke. To be honest, I can recite the movie verbatim fairly easily, but I haven’t actually watched it in quite some time. So it got my attention. And it got me thinking, two scenes specifically.
The first being the arrival of the galactic bounty hunters on Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer. Prior to the A&E channel, the term ‘bounty hunter’ was often linked to the Star Wars universe. You may have heard it outside of this realm if you’re on the wrong side of the law and jumping bail, but not usually. Before reality television, ‘bounty hunter’ meant Boba Fett, IG-88 or any other number of characters from the Star Wars universe. For me anyway.
And then Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman arrived. Before I knew it, I was envisioning Dog The Bounty Hunter on the deck of the Star Destroyer alongside Boba Fett, Zuckuss, 4-Lom, Dengar and IG-88 in The Empire Strikes Back. What if Dog captured Han Solo instead of Boba Fett? And what would he be saying to Han’s frozen body as he shipped him to Jabba The Hutt? “You know Han, God loves you, and he doesn’t want you running from the Empire, smuggling spice or ripping off Hutt lords anymore. And at the end of the criminal rainbow, there’s no pot of gold…” I know that’s not how it happened, but it made me laugh anyways.
The next scene to strike me involved the Ugnaughts. The short, upright, porcine humanoids with upturned noses and chubby bellies that worked throughout Lando Calrissian’s Cloud City on Bespin, more specifically at the Carbon Freeing Chamber in which Han is frozen. I was a Star Wars action figure nut, but I never ever wanted an Ugnaught figures. And the reason was simple. They were half the size of most of the other Star Wars action figures, and as an eight year-old kid with little money to spend on Star Wars figures, it was a question of getting my money’s worth. Ugnaughts, astromech droids (like R2-D2) and Ewoks all cost the same as the taller action figures in the Star Wars universe, and that didn’t make sense to me. Darth Vaders and Chewbaccas were twice the size for the same price. As an eight year-old, I was unknowingly making an indiscriminately small economic statement against Kenner Toys. All because I didn’t want any Star Wars figures that were short….
And now that I’m getting into it, do you suppose there might’ve been comedians in the Star Wars universe? Perhaps a three-eyed, quadraped making Seinfeld-like observations about their world like, “Why does Jabba The Hutt live in a palace? Shouldn’t he live in a hut?” And what about racism? The only discrimination I can think of off the top of my head is against droids. I guess that’s droidism but I don’t know if any droids were created to mock its shortcomings in much the way Dave Chappelle or Richard Pryor has with the subject of race.
As I said earlier, it’s raining. And additionally, I’m exhausted from the past few days. So perhaps this might explain the short line I’m drawing between Dog The Bounty Hunter, characters from The Empire Strikes Back, unapplied childhood economics and the likelihood of comedians in a galaxy far, far away.
Merry day after Christmas. And sorry for my unexplainable knowledge of the Star Wars universe…