Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Star Wars: X-Wing: Mercy Kill

Mercy Kill is full of joyful silliness. It also contains death, double-crosses, and the gross-out factor of Yuuzhan Vong technology, but the image of a half-dressed Gamorrean sensuously dancing is the one that I had trouble burning out of my brain.

That's the beginning of my Knights Archive review, which can be found here. It's also the start of some thoughts I left out of the review, because the book was good and did not take itself too seriously.

I, however, did.

It’s hard to take a Gamorrean doing the “Walk Like An Egyptian” dance seriously, except that he’s so obviously pastiching the role of the Twi’lek dancers that show up as background in most Star Wars media. It’s humor of substitution, but also played straight: Gamorrean ladies cheer when Voort takes his clothes off. The dance is also made a big part of Voort’s characterization in that it helps him on missions and he enjoys it.

If this was any other sort of character - Twi’lek female, human female, human male - I would think that readers would look at these scenes a little differently, with more of an eye for whatever statement it might make about the taboo or empowerment of sensuality. It might generate uncomfortable feelings instead of a laugh. 

Author Aaron Allston is careful to provide diversity elsewhere too, with enemy soldiers described in all genders, species, shapes, and sizes. Although some descriptions tried too hard to reference real-world culture, the mooks were far from faceless. Everyone has an equal right to being beaten up. And everyone has an equal right to what might be called objectification, which in this book is portrayed as a very positive thing if it helps the person who is choosing their role as object.

I don't think that Allston intended for Mercy Kill to make any grand statements. I don't think that the film Magic Mike intended to make any grand statements. But I invite you to think about what kind of buzz Mercy Kill might have generated if the main character was human.

The fine print: DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no charge in order to provide an early review. However, this did not affect the overall review content. All opinions are my own.

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