Disability in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: A Mythology of Villains, "Obsessive Avengers," and Complex Embodiments in Star Wars
Keywords:Film, Archetypes, Star Wars, Disability, Fantasy, Disney, Pop Culture,
This article analyzes the depictions disability embodies in the fantasy film series Star Wars. Fantasy as a genre is able to re-present our past and present values through visionary forms and can act as a mirror to the society that creates the image. Fantasy is powerful as it enables films the ability to conceptualize realistic viewpoints and current day culture in their images and themes. In terms of Disability Studies, fantasy plays a critical role in the analysis of disability representation since fantasy is known for exploiting and transforming disabilities into Sharon L. Snyder and David T. Mitchell's "narrative prostheses." Once transformed, disability is used for its representational power rather than its true nature. Utilizing Roland Barthes's research on myth-making and Martin F. Norden's established disability archetypes, I discuss the varying portrayals disabilities have throughout the disability-laden series Star Wars. I discuss how disability portrayals rely on archetypes such as Norden's "Obsessive Avenger," the myth formation of disability as related to a sliding scale for evil, and as a symbolic connection to themes pertaining to technology's dehumanizing effects on humans. However, I also discuss the standalone Star Wars film Rogue One which diverges in portrayals through its exploration of Tobin Siebers's theory of complex embodiment. These films can act as a larger metaphor for films with disabilities today: taking steps when it comes to the improvement of disability representations, yet still behaving as perpetrators of long-held stereotypes and archetypes.
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