Event Title

“Like Junk Food For The Mind”: Dissonant Food Production In Star Wars

Location

SU 124

Start Date

19-4-2019 10:20 AM

Department

English

Session

Session 4

Description

This paper explores the political unconscious of the original Star Wars (1977) when read through the lens of food as a way to analyze race, gender, and class relations. Rather than fetishizing the film as a finished product, I aim to investigate the ways in which previous drafts of the film’s script and the novelization form a nexus and expand our understanding of the fictional galaxy. Through multiple drafts, what became known as Star Wars progresses and reimagines a universe with diverse creatures and unfamiliar customs. Yet, while filmmaker George Lucas successfully envisions some aspects of a distant and far-off existence, many important other aspects of his own culture still subsist in the fictitious universe. The eating, producing, and preparation of food in Star Wars is infrequent and implicit, yet more frequent and explicit in previous drafts of the film’s script and in the film’s novelization. If we read and analyze Star Wars in relation to the multiple drafts its creator wrote before the final, filmed script, as well as the novelization of the film and the ideology and culture it was written in, we can analyze the film in its final form as well as its unfinished form. Furthermore, through analyzing both the presence and the absence of food in the film, we can understand the limits of its ideological discourse. Even rarer than instances of food in the fictitious universe, are instances of female characters. While the film has been recognized for reinventing the princess trope and creating a strong, autonomous character in Leia Organa, the film’s only other female character, Aunt Beru, is physically fixed in the kitchen and ideologically fixed in 1970’s America, suggesting that the film and its creators are unaware of the necessary labor of women to the social production and reproduction of material conditions. Just as the film conceals and disregards the labor of women, so too is the film unaware of its geographical and imperialist surroundings. A large portion of the movie are filmed in the African country of Tunisia and the degrading manner in which the land and its inhabitants are spoken of in the film creates a disturbing link between the fictional planet and the real, inhabited country that the film is shot in. For many years, Star Wars and its production provided the Tunisian people with jobs and new opportunities through filmmaking and tourism, yet the movie has simultaneously caused damage to the country through its depiction of Tunisia as a monolithic deserted landscape with inhuman citizens, rather than the fertile, agriculturally productive country that it is. As a result of its complicated relationship to its ideological origins, the film is contradictory and dissonant. For Star Wars, these origins are demonstrated through its culinary imagination as well as its lack of imagination when envisioning the labor and cultures that make food production possible.

Comments

Ryan Poll is the faculty sponsor for this project.

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Apr 19th, 10:20 AM

“Like Junk Food For The Mind”: Dissonant Food Production In Star Wars

SU 124

This paper explores the political unconscious of the original Star Wars (1977) when read through the lens of food as a way to analyze race, gender, and class relations. Rather than fetishizing the film as a finished product, I aim to investigate the ways in which previous drafts of the film’s script and the novelization form a nexus and expand our understanding of the fictional galaxy. Through multiple drafts, what became known as Star Wars progresses and reimagines a universe with diverse creatures and unfamiliar customs. Yet, while filmmaker George Lucas successfully envisions some aspects of a distant and far-off existence, many important other aspects of his own culture still subsist in the fictitious universe. The eating, producing, and preparation of food in Star Wars is infrequent and implicit, yet more frequent and explicit in previous drafts of the film’s script and in the film’s novelization. If we read and analyze Star Wars in relation to the multiple drafts its creator wrote before the final, filmed script, as well as the novelization of the film and the ideology and culture it was written in, we can analyze the film in its final form as well as its unfinished form. Furthermore, through analyzing both the presence and the absence of food in the film, we can understand the limits of its ideological discourse. Even rarer than instances of food in the fictitious universe, are instances of female characters. While the film has been recognized for reinventing the princess trope and creating a strong, autonomous character in Leia Organa, the film’s only other female character, Aunt Beru, is physically fixed in the kitchen and ideologically fixed in 1970’s America, suggesting that the film and its creators are unaware of the necessary labor of women to the social production and reproduction of material conditions. Just as the film conceals and disregards the labor of women, so too is the film unaware of its geographical and imperialist surroundings. A large portion of the movie are filmed in the African country of Tunisia and the degrading manner in which the land and its inhabitants are spoken of in the film creates a disturbing link between the fictional planet and the real, inhabited country that the film is shot in. For many years, Star Wars and its production provided the Tunisian people with jobs and new opportunities through filmmaking and tourism, yet the movie has simultaneously caused damage to the country through its depiction of Tunisia as a monolithic deserted landscape with inhuman citizens, rather than the fertile, agriculturally productive country that it is. As a result of its complicated relationship to its ideological origins, the film is contradictory and dissonant. For Star Wars, these origins are demonstrated through its culinary imagination as well as its lack of imagination when envisioning the labor and cultures that make food production possible.