Star Wars It was conceived as a story for children, inspired by various mythologies and the films and series that George Lucas loved so much. The saga was not very sophisticated in its portrayal of good versus evil, however, with the passage of time it has acquired a little more (just a little) of complexity in this regard. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – 85% is a great example of how the franchise can mature and evolve, but The Mandalorian – 91%, a live-action series that returned to the roots of Star Wars, has made the same mistakes again, especially the racist portrayal of Native Americans.
While Native Americans do not appear in the Lucas saga, an alien species is clearly inspired by them, and if it was not a deliberate action on the part of the director, he unconsciously repeated the clichés of the westerns around the Indians. The tuskens, or inhabitants of the sands, are portrayed in a very similar way to the Indians of the old westerns, who used to dehumanize them and only show them as the face of otherness, of the savage who had to be eliminated in defense of the colonists and civilization. .
The first chapter of the second season of The Mandalorian he has repeated the mistake, albeit with certain nuances. Since the series is inspired by westerns, we have the lone antihero who arrives in Mos Pelgo, a mining town in the middle of the desert, and meets an individual known as El Mariscal, who is wearing Mandalorian armor. For him to deliver it to the protagonist (Din Djarin), he offers him a deal: to help him kill a Krayt dragon that has ravaged the town for a long time.
On their way to the monster’s lair, Din Djarin and The Marshal run into the Tuskens, who are also interested in killing the dragon. That’s when the problems start. Although the protagonist treats the denizens of the sands with respect, El Mariscal continues to think of them as inferior and savage beings, just as the Americans thought of the Native Americans. Later they discover that they will not be able to defeat the beast with the help of the tuskens alone, so the villagers must renounce their hatred for the sand dwellers to achieve the goal of ridding themselves of the dragon Krayt.
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Dais Johnston was in charge of shedding light on this issue, through his article published in Inverse We discover that behind the truce of peace between the inhabitants of Mos Pelgo and the Tuskens, there are westerns like Broken Arrow – 89%, which was one of the first films of the genre to empathically portray Indians:
The Mandalorian lends itself to this ‘cowboy and cowboy’ model in pretty obvious ways. Tatooine’s mining ghost town, Mos Pelgo, represents pioneer settlers. The rough Tusken, the so-called ‘sand dwellers’, are used by their millennia of experience dealing with Krayt dragons and thus fulfill the role of Native Americans.
But if anyone finds the comparison between Tuskens and Native Americans forced, they will be surprised to read this excerpt from Johnston’s article, where he reveals that they themselves were identified in the Sand Dwellers:
The natives see themselves in the Tuskens. In a December 2019 interview with DGO promoting an exhibit on indigenous perspectives in Star Wars from the Museum of Northern Arizona, Lee Francis, founder of Native Realities, expressed his excitement at seeing the Tuskens. ‘The Tusken, you know, those are our towns, right? That’s like Apache land right there. ‘
At the end of episode 9 of The MandalorianAlthough the Tuskens and the inhabitants of Mos Pelgo made an alliance, the majority of deaths were from the natives, perhaps because it is easier for Disney to portray the death of a being whose face we cannot see, in a similar way as in In the past, westerns used the dehumanized Indian as a symbol of savagery and nature, as opposed to the cowboy who represented order and civilization.
However, the negative portrayal of Tuskens as Indians in old westerns is much worse in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope – 93%, not to mention Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones – 66%, where they had kidnapped Anakin’s mother and he after murdering an entire village describe them as animals. You can read the full article at this link.
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