Slavery in Star Wars

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Slavery in Star Wars

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-15 10:13pm

In Star Wars, slavery has always been a part of the story, whether in the foreground or in the background.

Chronologically, it hasn't been as heavy a focus in the story, but it's always been there, especially if you tap into the EU. However, as the films have gone in order of production, slavery has become more of a forefront issue.

Chewie's backstory in the old and new EU that Han rescued him from slavery.
Leia is enslaved for less than a week by Jabba, then he is killed by her.
Anakin was born a slave. Shmi and Anakin discuss their situation with the Jedi and a rathered sheltered queen.
Clone Wars has a multiparter about dealing with a slaving empire, and their plans to enslave Jedi.
Rebels shows that the poor Wookies are being enslaved by the Empire for labor.
In The Force Awakens, Rey is maybe a slave on Jakku?
In The Last Jedi, Rose's backstory along with the wealthy on the casino planet exploiting child slaves for their luxuries. Rey was revealed to have been sold by her parents for drinking money.
Next, in Solo, we see Han helping free Chewie, along with Han helping Chewie lead a slave revolt on Kessel.

Like it or not, intentional or not, the slavery issue is coming to the forefront in Star Wars material. What does this mean for the setting? How should it be handled by the future installments?

Discuss.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-15 10:33pm

I'm just going to say NOT how Solo handled it. I felt that the way they drew attention to the fact that droids are slaves, but then treated the droid character wanting to liberate her fellow droids as something of a joke for most of the film, was frankly disgusting. And then they download her consciousness into the Falcon. Which Lando then loses to Solo in a bet at the end of the film.

I mean... they go out of their way to show their heroes casually engaging in slavery, then shrug it off like that. What the hell? This is probably my biggest gripe with the film.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-15 10:40pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-15 10:33pm
I'm just going to say NOT how Solo handled it. I felt that the way they drew attention to the fact that droids are slaves, but then treated the droid character wanting to liberate her fellow droids as something of a joke for most of the film, was frankly disgusting. And then they download her consciousness into the Falcon. Which Lando then loses to Solo in a bet at the end of the film.

I mean... they go out of their way to show their heroes casually engaging in slavery, then shrug it off like that. What the hell? This is probably my biggest gripe with the film.
Yeah, I'm trying to limit it to the discussion of organic slavery, since the whole droid situation kind of breaks the setting. But if they want to fully dive into a Droid civil rights discussion, that could be one direction the Franchise could take.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by madd0ct0r » 2018-08-16 04:05am

Is organic slavery in the setting ever more then "clear signal who bad guys are" and "rough backstory to explain adventurer with no loose ends like family "
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-16 07:39am

The greatest question in a setting like Star Wars is, why the hell are there slaves? Especially when you have droids?

OK, the droids are slaves but then it begs the question of why there are organic slaves at all. Droids do not need food, are simpler to repair, care less about bad environments, less likely to be sick (I'm sure that there is malware about but that must be easier than healing actual people), far less likely to develop notions of escape so you don't need to cage them, are less likely to be violent so you don't need armed guards around, unlikely to do things like have babies and so on. Droids are so common that they are regularly sold second-hand and omnipresent in the setting. They are sentient so they obviously can handle any task a person can. It is especially jarring when it's furry giants with a reputation for rage and tearing peoples' arms off.

The only explanation that seems obvious is that slaves aren't there for labor (despite seeing them often used as such), but as a luxury. Sex is one thing that you can't have droids do and along with a few other things, like having them for death-gladiators and prey for people-murder-hunt-parties or whatever. I recall that in Clone Wars, it was also an issue of prestige to own slaves.

But we regularly see them doing labor. Which begs the question of why. Why would you go to the length of enslaving people, from kidnapping them to caging them to keeping them in line day-to-day, when you have droids? The only answer, aside the "we're evil and this is what we want to do" is that doing so is somehow cheaper than getting purpose-built droids for your work. Or that there is a labor shortage for whatever reason and grabbing a bunch of random people was simpler somehow than just buying droids.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Steve » 2018-08-16 10:19am

Usually it's cultural, from what I recall. Either the Empire using it to break species they decided were not fully sapient (IIRC isn't that the justification for the Wookiees?), or the Hutts or that society from the Clone Wars comic and cartoon (IIRC they were initially in a comic, then said comic arc was adapted into the series) or the TOR-era Sith Empire see it as an issue of prestige and power. Owning slaves prove your power, that sort of thing.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Patroklos » 2018-08-16 11:30am

The prestige thing breaks down when you consider that Worto or whatever his name has at least two in TPM. Thats a dirt poor world, and he isn't anybody of note on it.

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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-16 12:40pm

Except Shmi was a former prestige slave of a Hutt who had been sold on (presumably due to age or pregnancy).

Second-hand luxury goods.

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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by tezunegari » 2018-08-16 12:57pm

NecronLord wrote:
2018-08-16 12:40pm
Except Shmi was a former prestige slave of a Hutt who had been sold on (presumably due to age or pregnancy).

Second-hand luxury goods.

Didn't we used to have a vomit emoticon? Consider it used here.
Didn't Watto win Anakin and Shmi by gambling against Gardulla? IIRC Shmi mentioned being won in TPM when ranting against Pod racing and the connected betting going on.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2018-08-16 01:08pm

There is also Watto's comment to Qui-Gon that "no pod{racer] is worth two slaves" implying that betting/trading slaves is normal enough for them to have a commonly accepted value.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Steve » 2018-08-16 02:34pm

Patroklos wrote:
2018-08-16 11:30am
The prestige thing breaks down when you consider that Worto or whatever his name has at least two in TPM. Thats a dirt poor world, and he isn't anybody of note on it.
That doesn't mean there's no prestige involved, especially in a culture like the Hutts have been portrayed as having. It just means that at some point a scrap dealer like Watto had the opportunity or need to acquire an older woman and a child slave.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-16 02:57pm

Let's not undersell (hah) Watto either, he was the only junk dealer on the planet able to procure parts for a J-Type Nubian royal yacht. That has to count for something.

Of course, droids also have difficulty on Tatooine, remember the role Luke had in cleaning them in the farm, and the concern the droids have with dust clogging them in the desert? Just because droids exist doesn't mean they are better than organics at every task. Sand is arguably more threatening to electronics than hard vacuum might be (if they don't use convection etc. for cooling).
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Patroklos » 2018-08-16 03:04pm

But if they were as valuable as you say, Watto would have flipped them in a heart beat. I didn't see him enjoying any sort of prestige to offset their monetary value. And as a greedy character arctype should covet that payday if there was some sort of small fortune wrapped up in them. He values Anakin as a pilot and mechanic, which means his street value is something less than what it takes to hire someone with those skills which are some of the most common skills we see in the EU.

The pod racer thing actually undermines their value. Pod racers don't strike me as particularly expensive given we see people like Owen buy multiple droids on a whim on the same planet. Luke states they won't get much from his speeder as well when its sold. Anakin builds one from jumk, and yeah he has jedi tinkerer fiat, but he was still starting from worthless junk. A podracer might not be worth two slaves, but the fact that it is worth one tells me a slave (a young, skilled one at that) is worth as much as your normal garage modified firebird drag racer that dude works on sporadically down the street with a bandanna on his head and an Old Style by the oil pan.

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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by NecronLord » 2018-08-16 03:08pm

What are you talking about? Anakin is the literal chosen one, an unparalleled genius with machines whose works are guided by divine providence and makes the guy's business work. What offer is he going to get for the kid that makes him worth parting with?

Owen is a farm owner with two cars and a light aircraft. He is not poor either.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-16 03:55pm

A thing to remember that there might be local fluctuation. On a planet beset by poverty, ruled by Hutts, low industry, low opportunity for education and so forth, slaves (especially if they become such by something common, like falling into debt) might be plentiful and of relatively low value. Hell, I would not be surprised if such worlds produced slaves that were sold elsewhere.

Rey wasn't a slave, she was extensively on her own. I think she might have been in debt to the person she brought salvage, who was clearly exploiting people like her.

Anakin might have been a special case and not just "Force-gifted genius" department but because Watto wanted him to build that crap to later sell.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-16 05:16pm

It's possible, I think, that changes in the galactic economy made slavery difficult or unprofitable to enforce on Tattooine by the OT era. That said it could well have been a local thing on the planet-- Mos Espa is not Mos Eisley, and Owen Lars could well have been averse to slaves given that his stepmother used to be one.

There are too many variables I think to make solid statements about what we see other than that it exists, it's more common in areas where the Republic has less power, and that the Empire exploited certain people and species as slaves.

The situation on Jakku struck me as being less slavery and more a situation analogous to mining towns in American history, where the mining company would employ the great majority of people, pay them in company scrip that could only be used at the company store... I suppose arguably that -is- slavery but it's a different direction, I think, than the traditional 'permanently bound to one owner for life unless sold' sense of the term. It's less outright ownership of people, more simple exploitation because one suspects that if the people on Jakku managed to strike a rich salvage they might have been able to exchange it for a ticket off the planet (unless, of course, Unkar and the other exploiters on the planet double-cross them).
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-16 05:36pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-15 10:13pm
In The Force Awakens, Rey is maybe a slave on Jakku?
Just to address this, I don't think there's any evidence for Rey being a slave, precisely. She's poor, she's working for an asshole who underpays her and sends goons to rob her, but there's no indication that she's his property. He has to send goons later to get a droid from her, rather than just threatening to have her beaten/starved/whatever if she doesn't hand it over on the spot. She doesn't seem to have anything like Shmi and Anakin's implant to kill them if they tried to leave. She lives in her own home (an abandoned AT-AT out in the desert, IIRC). There does not appear to be anything to stop her from leaving the planet other than poverty, though there's insufficient evidence to say for certain.

She probably was more or less under her boss's thumb as a child, but as an adult she appears to have a fair degree of independence. She is vulnerable to exploitation, however, in that she appears to be dependent on her boss for supplies. The analogy I would use is not slavery as it is usually thought of, but something like a "company town", where there's really only one game in town, and you get paid in company scrip to buy essentials from the company store. I suppose you could consider that slavery if you defined it loosely enough.
Zixinus wrote:
2018-08-16 07:39am
The only explanation that seems obvious is that slaves aren't there for labor (despite seeing them often used as such), but as a luxury. Sex is one thing that you can't have droids do and along with a few other things, like having them for death-gladiators and prey for people-murder-hunt-parties or whatever. I recall that in Clone Wars, it was also an issue of prestige to own slaves.
Strictly speaking, droids can be used for all those things, too. Hell, we're building primitive sex-bots here on Earth now. The only reason to use organic beings for that is cultural/prestige reasons, as already noted, or because you're a sick fuck who specifically gets off on hurting/killing/having power over a living flesh and blood being.

Mind you, I'd actually regard at least some droids as living sapient beings, as noted above.

Edit: Okay, I just thought of another rather nasty, short-term use for slaves- illegal medical experimentation/organ harvesting (yes, they can clone organs, but I'm guessing harvesting them might be cheaper, even for Star Wars).
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by FaxModem1 » 2018-08-16 06:10pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-16 05:36pm
FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-15 10:13pm
In The Force Awakens, Rey is maybe a slave on Jakku?
Just to address this, I don't think there's any evidence for Rey being a slave, precisely. She's poor, she's working for an asshole who underpays her and sends goons to rob her, but there's no indication that she's his property. He has to send goons later to get a droid from her, rather than just threatening to have her beaten/starved/whatever if she doesn't hand it over on the spot. She doesn't seem to have anything like Shmi and Anakin's implant to kill them if they tried to leave. She lives in her own home (an abandoned AT-AT out in the desert, IIRC). There does not appear to be anything to stop her from leaving the planet other than poverty, though there's insufficient evidence to say for certain.

She probably was more or less under her boss's thumb as a child, but as an adult she appears to have a fair degree of independence. She is vulnerable to exploitation, however, in that she appears to be dependent on her boss for supplies. The analogy I would use is not slavery as it is usually thought of, but something like a "company town", where there's really only one game in town, and you get paid in company scrip to buy essentials from the company store. I suppose you could consider that slavery if you defined it loosely enough.
Yes, I'm just wondering what it means if Rey was 'sold for drinking money'. That implies that she is owned. Of course, it could also mean that she was given a monetary debt to work off at the tender age of 5.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-16 06:17pm

FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-16 06:10pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-16 05:36pm
FaxModem1 wrote:
2018-08-15 10:13pm
In The Force Awakens, Rey is maybe a slave on Jakku?
Just to address this, I don't think there's any evidence for Rey being a slave, precisely. She's poor, she's working for an asshole who underpays her and sends goons to rob her, but there's no indication that she's his property. He has to send goons later to get a droid from her, rather than just threatening to have her beaten/starved/whatever if she doesn't hand it over on the spot. She doesn't seem to have anything like Shmi and Anakin's implant to kill them if they tried to leave. She lives in her own home (an abandoned AT-AT out in the desert, IIRC). There does not appear to be anything to stop her from leaving the planet other than poverty, though there's insufficient evidence to say for certain.

She probably was more or less under her boss's thumb as a child, but as an adult she appears to have a fair degree of independence. She is vulnerable to exploitation, however, in that she appears to be dependent on her boss for supplies. The analogy I would use is not slavery as it is usually thought of, but something like a "company town", where there's really only one game in town, and you get paid in company scrip to buy essentials from the company store. I suppose you could consider that slavery if you defined it loosely enough.
Yes, I'm just wondering what it means if Rey was 'sold for drinking money'. That implies that she is owned. Of course, it could also mean that she was given a monetary debt to work off at the tender age of 5.
You could interpret it either way, I suppose. TFA leaned more towards exploited but not technically slave labor, and that's what I was basing my argument on. That line from TLJ, though, pushes it more towards slavery.

Of course, its also possible that Kylo was lying through his teeth. Or simply reading what Rey subconsciously believed and repeating it back to her. Remember Yoda's wisdom we should:

"Joined the Dark Side Dooku has. Lies, deceit, creating mistrust are his ways now."-Grand Master Yoda.

I think it was probably Johnson's intent for that line to be taken at face value (oddly enough, since TLJ goes out of its way to be ambiguous about a lot of things). But since TFA seemed to be implying a more conventional special heritage/destiny for Rey (at least to me), I can't entirely rule out Abrams retconning it, and it would be very easy to hand wave that whole scene as "Kylo is full of shit".

I mean... he wasn't there, right? He wouldn't know, unless he happened to see it in a Force vision.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-08-16 06:38pm

If Rey's parents mattered on some kind of galactic level, like perhaps they were famous politicians or generals, then it's not improbable that Snoke or other former Imperials would have kept tabs on them via whatever spies they had, or even just watching the news. Even if they were just, say, one of Luke's Jedi trainees and their spouse, they would have been one of a fairly select number and thus worth monitoring.

That said, you also fall into the paradox that if they had been anybody actually important, odds are good that it would've been public knowledge that they had a 5-year-old child, and while it's not impossible that she could have been accidentally abandoned or deliberately left behind in an off-the-beaten-path place, it still would've been something of a cause celebre. After all, it made national news (okay, maybe the back page of the national news) when actor Randy Quaid went slightly nuts via Internet video, and he's not exactly very famous.

So I'm largely on board with the idea that that Rey's parents weren't anybody particularly important, at least on a larger scale. I do think it fits somewhat with the pattern set by ANH, where we get the impression that Luke was at least somewhat special, particularly after he meets Ben Kenobi and is given his father's lightsaber, for Rey to be openly acknowledged as having potential.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Zixinus » 2018-08-17 11:17am

Yes, I'm just wondering what it means if Rey was 'sold for drinking money'. That implies that she is owned. Of course, it could also mean that she was given a monetary debt to work off at the tender age of 5.
Or she was just lied to for whatever reason. Maybe to protect her so she wouldn'T be chasing her father's identity and inviting trouble.
Strictly speaking, droids can be used for all those things, too. Hell, we're building primitive sex-bots here on Earth now. The only reason to use organic beings for that is cultural/prestige reasons, as already noted, or because you're a sick fuck who specifically gets off on hurting/killing/having power over a living flesh and blood being.
Which is what I meant by luxury. Nobody really NEEDS a sex-slave or death-gladiators, at least not like you need slaves to run sugar-cane and cotton plantations (where there is at least an economic justification as to why so much effort is made).
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Knife » 2018-08-19 02:28pm

I think the slavery is thematic meant to build the setting. The Roman Empire in decline with slave pens in outskirt towns in the desert. Rich corrupt gangsters with slaves showing off power, greed, immorality, and decay.

As someone said above, it's an easy way to establish that this particular dude/dudette is a bad guy/girl because they own people.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-08-20 04:08pm

Yeah. And I don't really have a problem with slavery that is acknowledge and portrayed as such being a part of the setting.

I am more troubled by stuff which is slavery but not treated as such, especially when its being done by, or with the complicity of, the heroes. Ie droids, the Clones, arguably the Jedi's use of child recruits/soldiers.
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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by MarxII » 2018-08-27 02:50am

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-20 04:08pm
Yeah. And I don't really have a problem with slavery that is acknowledge and portrayed as such being a part of the setting.

I am more troubled by stuff which is slavery but not treated as such, especially when its being done by, or with the complicity of, the heroes. Ie droids, the Clones, arguably the Jedi's use of child recruits/soldiers.
I halfway think there's something interesting to be had there, narrative-wise, though I wouldn't be any too optimistic about someone attempting to pull it off. Certainly this is franchise has a checkered history (at best) with deconstructions.

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Re: Slavery in Star Wars

Post by Knife » 2018-08-27 07:36pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-08-20 04:08pm
Yeah. And I don't really have a problem with slavery that is acknowledge and portrayed as such being a part of the setting.

I am more troubled by stuff which is slavery but not treated as such, especially when its being done by, or with the complicity of, the heroes. Ie droids, the Clones, arguably the Jedi's use of child recruits/soldiers.
Meh. You can have a good argument philosophically with droids, even clones I guess. Not sure why you'd get up in arms about theoretical robots as depicted. The clones are a tech closer to what we can do, so again philosophically interesting argument but meh.

Jedi though, I take issue with. It's a prestige position. Granted a lot of indoctrination goes into it too, but there does seem like 'legal' ways to leave if someone really wants to. We do know people WANT to be Jedi enough that a slave kid outside the Republic has heard of them and is excited to be one when given the chance. As far as 'kid soldiers', I'm kind of see the point but also see how it's bad. We define adult at 18 and so having a bunch of 19 year old kids fight wars. 200 years ago, as well as earlier, 16 was an adult and OK to go fight. Padawans 14-16 year old being journeymen or squires kind of tracks, besides the point that in 1000 years there has been no major wars and those thousands of Padawans would not have been in danger.

Now, if you want to argue that for 3 years in the Clone Wars that the Jedi kept teenagers along side their Masters in combat, I can see that I guess.
They say, "the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots." I suppose it never occurred to them that they are the tyrants, not the patriots. Those weapons are not being used to fight some kind of tyranny; they are bringing them to an event where people are getting together to talk. -Mike Wong

But as far as board culture in general, I do think that young male overaggression is a contributing factor to the general atmosphere of hostility. It's not SOS and the Mess throwing hand grenades all over the forum- Red

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