Why George Lucas Has No Penis

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As a coda to Seventies Sci-Fi Week-and-a-Half, here’s a piece I wrote ages ago and then didn’t post because it was too mean, and its subject is a rich and powerful man. On re-reading it, I decided it’s not that mean and its subject isn’t really its subject — it’s a kind of parody of the style of Professor Joseph Slade, whose article “Bernard Natan, France’s Legendary Pornographer” cast him as chief villain in NATAN, the documentary Paul Duane and I collaborated on (which also features crooked businessmen and Nazis, so Slade had to work hard to attain the top spot). The game is “psychoanalyse a moviemaker based on his work” — inferring all sorts of offensive assumptions on slender textual evidence. So I hope Mr. Lucas will see the funny side and not sic the assassination wing of Industrial Light and Magic on my ass.

***

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Exhibit A.

I don’t want you to misconstrue from the title of the post, or any of the many bad things I say in it, that this is an anti-Lucas screed. It’s more about examining George‘s immortal creation, the original STAR WARS, to see how it is in fact a coded cri-de-coeur from a man who wants to be virile and thrusting, to satisfy women, to have a penis, and yet cannot do any of these things, because he doesn’t have a penis.

Exhibit B: the light sabre. When Mel Brooks spoofed this peculiar weapon in SPACEBALLS (a title calculated to appeal to the untesticled Lucas), it wasn’t particularly funny, perhaps because the sight of Bill Pullman miming the act of clutching a long, luminous erection somehow doesn’t inspire hilarity, only a queasy urge to withdraw from the vicinity as soon as possible. But also because the joke is too obvious — and I don’t mean in the sense that all dick jokes are, by definition, obvious, I mean that the light sabre is already a naked phallic symbol impossible to parody. In terms of physics, it makes no sense — it’s apparently made of light, yet the beam comes to a dead halt just when you need it to, and it’s solid. And from the way they swing them around, it looks like it has a little weight too. What else is solid, comes to a dead halt when you need it to, and has a little weight? Of course: a penis.

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Exhibit C: Darth Vader. Authors automatically project onto their villains their own undesirable qualities. In Peter Pan, Captain Hook is frequently described as “impotent” by J.M. Barrie, and the pirate’s missing limb is a clear metaphor for his sexual deficiency. Vader on the one hand, like everybody else in the STAR WARS universe, represents Lucas‘ craving for an aura of powerful masculinity: he is large and imposing, he has a light sabre, he has a black man’s voice like Barry White, and his heavy breathing suggests a state of permanent physical arousal. But it also suggests acute asthma, and it is here that Darth’s status as a disabled war veteran reveals Lucas‘ secret anxiety about his masculinity.

His name is a thinly-veiled reconstruction of the words “death invader” and he is an intrusion of the thanatic, anti-life principle into the living world. As a result, Vader is not sexually active, and when faced with a desirable woman, in his power, Vader chooses to attack her with a surrogate robot, armed only with a tiny needle. This reveals Lucas‘ subconscious anxiety that his tiny penis, if he has one, which he definitely doesn’t, is too small.

(Some may suggest that Vader feels no sexual desire for Princess Leia because she’s his daughter, but in fact this is not so. She’s not his daughter in the first film because Lucas had not yet written the other films at the time he made it. He hadn’t even started pretending that he had written the other five — or is it eight? — films.)

Exhibit D: R2-D2. Although the long, shiny C3-PO and the short, buff R2, like many comic double acts, represent a kind of analog of the human penis and scrotum, it is in R2’s electronic interface shaft that we see again Lucas‘ longing for a penis he can call his own. A kind of plug, jack, or cable (all words with sexual significance), R2’s mechanical member allows him to sexually violate other machines, including even the all-powerful Death Star. Though small and inarticulate, like Lucas, R2 possesses the power, unlike Lucas, to make things happen with his ding-a-ling. In one famous scene, he sticks it in the Death Star and forces her destructive, vagina dentata gnashers to release the trapped heroes who have unwisely ventured down the garbage disposal shaft which represents the Death Star’s vulva.

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Exhibit E: the climax. At the climax of the film Lucas made which he called STAR WARS, not A NEW HOPE, we get a flurry of erotic symbolism so insistent as to be almost dizzying. The death star attempts to assume the phallic role by planning to shoot a laser cannonade at Yavin, a green, Gaia-like world representing the life principle. To prevent this, a whole fleet of phallic spacecraft are launched, each with its own X-rating in the form of criss-cross wings replacing the testicles.

The goal of these craft is to turn the Death Star into a big space vagina and penetrate it, thus “fucking it up.” They do this first by diving into a groove on the satellite’s surface, then firing a so-called “proton torpedo” into its “cooling shaft”. All while R2 sits directly behind Luke, stimulating his prostate with that computerized dildo attachment of his.

I have said that this is a mechanized version of sexual intercourse, but what it more closely resembles is the act of fertilisation. The Death Star is an egg and the X-wing fighters are sperm, swimming together in a race to penetrate the ovum. The fact that in this case, the goal achieved leads to a big explosion and thousands of deaths probably reflects Lucas‘ neurotic anxieties, but on the other hand, the destruction of the death star saves Yavin, and so billions of lives on the fecund world are saved.

Lucas‘ cast of characters are mostly sexually dysfunctional or incapable of maintaining an erection. Ben Kenobi is an elderly Englishman, as is the Grand Moff Tarkin. Luke Skywalker delivers his first line of dialogue in a shrill, pansified falsetto. C3-PO and Chewbacca have noapparent generative organs of any kind, and Princess Leia is a woman.

In Lucas‘s predominantly metallic, sterile universe, the only truly virile human is Han Solo, who doesn’t need to surround himself with phallic symbols.

His blaster is of no more than standard size, his space-ship looks more like a cake than anything else, and he is so secure in his masculinity that he travels around with a shaggy beast, just like Clint Eastwood in EVERY WHICH WAY BUT LOOSE. Though his name strongly implies the act of masturbation, Han Solo is obviously a sexual conquistador of awesome dexterity. Chewbacca, Han’s “co-pilot” (read: fuck-buddy) is a savage male artifact in his own right, but his name (chewing tobacco) signifies his true role, as a lovable Walter Brennan sidekick with whom Han can, if he wishes, enjoy vigorous bouts of recreational sex.

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Just imagine him flanked by two Ewoks.

The top ten sexual innuendos of STAR WARS, via Strange Places.

1. “She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”
2. “Curse my metal body, I wasn’t fast enough!”
3. “Look at the size of that thing!”
4. “Sorry about the mess…”
5. “You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”
6. “Aren’t you a little short for a stormtrooper?”
7. “You’ve got something jammed in here real good.”
8. “Put that thing away before you get us all killed!”
9. “Luke, at that speed do you think you’ll be able to pull out in time?”
10. “Get in there you big furry oaf, I don’t care *what* you smell!”

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9 Responses to “Why George Lucas Has No Penis”

  1. Your analysis was quite penetrating.

  2. Randy Cook Says:

    No no no no no. The destruction of the Death Star is really about Birth. The Death star is an Ovum; the X-Wings, Spermatazoa. Only one X-Wing Sperm will be successful in its journey to the Death Star Ovum. When Little Luke fertilizes the Death Star Ovum, a Glorious Explosion gives Birth to an New Age of Hope and Peace and Merchandising and Sequels.

  3. Of course the garbage-masher represents a vagina. It’s even got a snake in it!

    Mark Hamill’s ecstatic gasp after the successful, ah, insertion of his “proton torpedoes” always makes me giggle inwardly.

    On a more serious note, I really do wonder if Lucas’s inability to stop reediting “Star Wars” (which I refuse to call “A New Hope”) isn’t a commentary on his failed marriage. George Lucas won no Academy recognition for “Star Wars” but Marcia Lucas won an award for Editing. Not entirely undeserved, that award: after some initial faffing about the great virtue of “Star Wars” is its sustained pacing; like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” it’s a film whose momentum sweeps the viewer headlong. Lucas’s alterations and interpolations, all tending to break that flow, almost seem like a raised middle finger to his ex-wife’s achievement.

  4. I’m utterly convinced by everything here, the light sabres even go “womb”, although the demonising and throttling of the phallic Jabba suggests, maybe, that Lucas has come to terms with his area by the time we get to the Ewoks.

  5. Isn’t it Leia who chokes Jabba until he goes limp? No comment.

    The sustained pace of Star Wars does falter when the Millenium Falcon is swallowed by the Death Star and there are two scenes of everyone chatting on board that seem to eat up ten minutes, with only the tiniest action in between. First they debate who will go switch off the tractor beam, and then they debate whether to follow him. I’m really surprised Lucas hasn’t tried to pep up that bit with a chorus line of dancing Jar-Jars.

  6. “Empire Strikes Back”: Han is about to give up on Leia. The environment is literally frigid. When things heat up (also literally) they are thrown together.

    Han takes the Millennium Falcon down a deep round tunnel on an asteroid. While there, if memory serves, he makes a move on Leia that doesn’t work out. Leia still tends to assert herself in a traditionally masculine manner. Coincidentally (?), he discovers the tunnel itself reacts negatively to his physical presence. They bug out, as what seemed like a safe, receptive hole was actually the throat of a hungry phallic monster.

    Meanwhile, Luke is learning how to Keep It Up and not overintellectualize his weapon in a moist and seamy place.

    Finally he gets her to what is, for all intents and purposes, a flashy and slightly disreputable hotel. But things go south and Han is subjected to a form of bondage, which doubles as discipline. This is at the behest of Jabba the Hut, upset that Han let the Empire “board” him. He even “dumped his cargo” when it was clear he would be taken. Seeing Han in this light, Leia declares her love.

    Then, after Darth Vader violates the cloud city and plants the concept of his paternity on Luke, Luke is sent screaming down a canal, probably near the waste disposal system. Only the one woman knows what has to be done.

    This is way too easy.

  7. Yes! But yours is way better than mine.

    Darth lopping off Luke’s hand is a symbolic castration by the father figure which Freud would have found edifying.

  8. Boris Molotov Says:

    This made me laugh. Rarely enjoy reading the comments, I’m glad folk like youz exist :)

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