I think about Chewbacca with a ferocity and intensity one would think that I actually had some kind of Wookie genealogy, because I think of him as family. I think of Wookies as myself and my own, as I am much hairier than anyone would know and I am actually fairly good at fixing things. The Wookies are the Star Wars galactic race that I’d say I identify most with, as the empire is naturally evil and so you wouldn’t want to be with them. That would be the modern day equivalent to deciding to bunk up in Slitherin.
The Jedis seem distant, in the same way white people feel distant sometimes, or ‘sometimey’ which is what black people call white people who are inconsistent with their attention/ affection/ allegiance/ alibis.
in the later generation of Star Wars films there is some racial implication to many of the characters that is uncomfortable and take me out of the mythology of the series, so I’d say Wookie for me, and I have been satisfied with that status and label since the beginning of the Star Wars franchise.
I saw the first (or 4th or whatever) Star Wars movie with my very first boyfriend Marco and his Native New Yorker parents, who took us to see it and smoked a joint together(!) as we waited in the long line outside the Coronet Theatre on Geary St. in San Francisco. Of course Marco and I loved the movie, and we chewed on a big bubblegum cigar throughout, imitating his parents by passing it between us until we both had massive baseball size pink wads of gum way too large for our kid mouths. We chewed them like cuds until we almost choked. I spit mine out into Marco’s waiting hand and it disappeared under the movie seats. That is love.
I experienced another wave of love upon the appearance of Chewbacca. The loyalty he expressed toward han solo, as well as the great pride in which he carried himself spoke to me. Chewbacca was a good friend. He was a gearhead. He could fix things and hang out. He had a temper but it was always justified. He was a giant but he also looked like a Pekinese lap dog. There was that tool belt and crossbow and the linked little boxes across his body – was that ammunition? There was something of a ‘burning man’ quality to Chewie style, which is both ultramodern and primitive at once.
Chewbacca also felt like a stoner to me, which might have just been the unruly fur and mechanical prowess. I can tell when it’s Peter Mayhew in the suit and when it’s a stuntman. Peter Mayhew makes the Wookie come alive. Look in his eyes. It’s all about the eyes. When Han Solo is frozen in the carbonite there is a Wookie wail that haunts my nightmares, and I feel it if ever I am abandoned, emotionally or literally. It’s like my default pain sound, as loud and ubiquitous as tri-tone or marimba.