Arts Say What?
posted by July 17 at 10:33 AMon
According to IMDb, Chewbacca speaks in “a combination of several animals, including bears, badgers, walruses, tigers and camels.”
Chewbacca frustrates us. He has one foot in the human world and another foot in the animal kingdom. The hairy thing can think, reason, fly a space ship, but it makes noises like a dumb animal. The thinking thing can not express itself. The thoughts in its human mind have no way of becoming words in its animal mouth. What for it starts as an idea ends as a groan, a grunt, a growl. Han Solo can understand these animal sounds, but not as words. He feels what Chewbacca is saying. He feels Chewie’s meaning in the way the owner of a dog feels the meaning of his/her dog’s bark.
The Nigerian novelist Achebe once described the relationship between the colonizer and the colonial subject as identical to the one that exists between a horse rider and his horse: the horse rider talks to its horse with no expectation of the horse talking back to him. The relationship between Han Solo and Chewbecca is not as severe as the colonial one, but it’s certainly not the ideal democratic relationship. Without free speech there can be no real freedom. The one that speaks will always have power over the one that can not speak.
In sum, Chewbacca is the ideal slave. It has the capacity to do human work, and yet lacks the essential democratic tool—language. Without speech it will always be a beast of burden.