Star Wars was all over social media yesterday. I like Star Wars, I grew up with that story. I am not a fanatic and while I know much about the first six, I have not pursued knowledge about this upcoming one. I figure I will eventually see the movie, mostly because my lovely wife will make sure, and my friends on social media will make sure I know too much about VII, good and bad for the months to come.
The one thing that did make me interested was a picture of an African-American boy dressed as a Jedi, and a tweet from @afroeccentrix reading “My little bro who is OBSESSED w/Star Wars now gets to see a more diverse cast on screen. #CelebrateStarWarsVII.” And this my friends, has made me more interested in the movie, for how powerful is it to see someone like one’s own self on the big screen as it will be for the boy in the picture. This is just a movie, but it is also a powerful expression of our culture, our stories.
This is why my son will dress as Chewbacca this Halloween. My son has limited verbal skills. Recently he has begun speaking two, sometimes three, word sentences without prompting, and also he communicates beyond words alone, just like his beloved Snoopy, Woodstock, and Curious George. There are many other characters he likes, but these have become very special to him, and it is hard not to notice these famous characters do not use verbal communication, while at the same time they are included. So we thought we should introduce our son to Chewbacca, and while he has not seen the movie, we got an inexpensive costume using a stocking cap which he will tolerate on his head instead of a mask. I am aware that Wookies like Chewbacca speak Shyriiwook, but how we experience it on screen, the communication reminds me of communication with one who knows basic language, as it is tone that seems to communicate more than Shyriiwook words.
So while the characters our son already loves are cartoon animals, Chewbacca comes from a whole society that speak in a very guttural sounds, and is honored by many.
But all these role models have fur (or feathers).
I cannot wait to know the Jedi who does not speak.