Ethnic Sexuality, George Lucas, and a rated R THX-1138

Discussion in 'Lucasfilm Ltd. In-Depth Discussion' started by NeoBaggins, Oct 5, 2004.

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  1. NeoBaggins Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2003
    star 5
    This particular topic resurfaced to my mind in a thread discussing a DJs accusations that STARWARS had racist stereotypes inserted in its characters. It was more comical than anything and soon the absurd issue of Jarjar being a black stereotype came up. Then it hit me. Lucas had portrayed a black man in THX-1138 as a big helpful guy who was actually a hologram. It was a pretty non-stereotypical role. Then I was hit again. There is a scene where two black guys are basically the entire network of entertainment for what must be like T.V. in the future (or for the controlled humans atleast). They do come across very stereotypical in a traditional bug-eyed butler kind of way, but another scene including blacks had me baffled as well as freaked-out to the fact it was something from the mind of George Lucas.

    The following are discriptions (tastefully worded) of events of the rated R film "THX-1138". It is rated R for some sexuality and nudity. If you are under the age of 17 and want to view Lucas first film you must do so in the company of an adult for the following discriptions may raise curiousity and the persuit to view the film in question. If you have not already.

    Ok. Robert Duvall's character "THX" (pronounced "Thex") is being, um, milked? By some sort of machine. While he is being pleasured there is a projection on the wall in front of him displaying a bald-headed naked black women dancing to tribal-like music. Shes pretty good too. When its all over, the picture on the wall cuts to two black guys sitting down. One of them says "Never before have we been so contented." Then quickly, for a swift moment, a picture of a bald-headed naked black dude is shown dancing to the tribal-like music. I dont know if it was meant as an alternative "choice" for THX's pleasure, or if it was the female section of the projection. What is this all about, George?

    The black people are clearly in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to the bald-heads and the all white suits. Perhaps they are solely used for entertainment purposes and if so, is this a negative depiction or one in flattery? Was Lucas saying that the blacks are the entertainers, comedians, and dancers stereotypically? And or was he implying some sort of sexual dominance and desire for blacks. Or simply, they represent all the entertainment and it happens to include the sexual portions of the programming.

    I must recieve feedback on this. I feel like im the only one on earth who has witnessed this very weird thing created by the guy who made STARWARS. What does it mean?

    Checking for commentary. Be right back....
  2. DarthNomis Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 2001
    star 6
    If there is any interpetation on this, I think it goes as follows...

    The scene in THX is a commentary on American society at the time (late 60's early 70s) and how it looks at anyone who do not fit into the mainstream society i.e. blacks and hippies, because of the protests and anti-etablishment societies that was happening at the time.

    However, the prodominant popular entertainment (particularly music) of time was being led by hippies and black (i.e Rock and motown sound)which was played mostly in place were you can get "milked".

    To show that this future society that fails to see it's own paradox as well as hypocritical culture is so far remove from "reality" is why you have someone help THX in the end as a black man albeit a hologram.

    It a statement on American culture of the time done in a way so that it take a deep look at itself without preaching.

    I never subsribe to Lucas as someone using negative stereotypes in StarWars or any of his movies although Jar Jar and Nute Gunray and his cronies make me crindge when I first seen them on screen.

    Just my two cents.
  3. arthurclavin2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2003
    star 4
    I'll quickly say that blacks, in his films, seem to represent the spiritual freedom and ubuntu (you'll find it) that is so lacking in the non-black civiliezations.

    THX-1138: The "hologram"(a kind of "3/5 of a human" analogy) can easily see his way in/out of the prisons (of rationality?). They also are used to sexually stimulate the "prisoners" due to their considerable endowments.

    American Graffiti: The young girl riding around in that puke green-yellow car says that her parents do not allow her to listen to Wolfman Jack because he is black.

    Star Wars: Compare the humans to the gungans (as well as the droids, namely C-3PO). Who eventually develops the power to destroy entire planets?

    I'm glad atleast one topic recognizes this theme.

    I feel like im the only one on earth who has witnessed this very weird thing created by the guy who made STARWARS.

    You aren't, friend.
  4. NeoBaggins Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2003
    star 5
    Thank the maker! You guys rule.

    "It a statement on American culture of the time done in a way so that it take a deep look at itself without preaching."

    That is a very pinpointing observation. I do sense Lucas wanting to sprinkle realism in his films without it overbearring the actually story components.


    "I'll quickly say that blacks, in his films, seem to represent the spiritual freedom and ubuntu (you'll find it) that is so lacking in the non-black civiliezations.

    THX-1138: The "hologram"(a kind of "3/5 of a human" analogy) can easily see his way in/out of the prisons (of rationality?). They also are used to sexually stimulate the "prisoners" due to their considerable endowments."

    Thats what I was kind of gathering from the scene but could not go it alone without feedback from other people. I never felt offended by watching it, (the milk dance) but very interested to know what angle Lucas was comming from. It is a staggering observation to me that you (second member quoted) realised that the hologram man was "FREE". Perhaps if I watch the movie more than the one time I have (its a hard one to settle down for) I could see further into the things I didnt understand. It may give me an outlook on Lucas that could help me find underlining themes in the prequels that would make me appreciate them more than I do.

    If another post isnt listed, the two above gave me plenty insight. Thanks.
  5. NZPoe Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Nov 21, 2001
    star 4
    One must not forget get the depiction may not be neccesarily one that Lucas suggests, but perhaps merely one he is reflecting. Their positions in the society of THX-1138 could be commentary on how they are portrayed today and could be potentially portrayed in the future. Lucas himself has said that THX1138 is a cautionary tale, not a suppositionary one like Star Wars.

    Just a thought :)
  6. arthurclavin2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2003
    star 4
    Thise whole deal reminds me of Chris Rock's cameo in Spielberg's A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
  7. NeoBaggins Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2003
    star 5
  8. arthurclavin2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2003
    star 4
    Both situations mirror the civiliezed attitudes toward blacks and other "inferior breeds of men" that were rather predominant for a few centuries in the West.

    The secular, intellectual elite have not always led humanity down the most satisfying roads.
  9. Emos-Edud Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 4
    But on the whole the secular intellectuals have done a better job than the religious, intellectual or otherwise.
  10. arthurclavin2 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Sep 27, 2003
    star 4
    Always in conflict are they...
  11. Emos-Edud Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 4
    What, science and superstition?

    Anyhow, back on topic, I thought it was interesting that Lucas seperated the races in such a way. It almost seems like a joke on the schism between white acceptance of blacks in popular culture (as athletes/entertainers) and white fear of the black next door/in the workplace/with the daughter. Lucas carries it out to such a degree that blacks are kept in the one place they seem safe, behind the glass of the TV, err, hologram. It looks like this racial and class distinction has been going on for such a long time in the world of THX-1138 that blacks are no longer "black." They are now called "holograms" (ie not real) despite having corporeal selves they only exist in the ether to the rest of the world that only sees them in the context of entertainment.

    Even though we (allegedly) strive for racial integration in our present world, who knows if in Lucas's fictional world this new evolution of segregation is such a bad thing, especially for the blacks. Although the TV shows that THX and LUH watch seem pretty insipid, even by today's low-standards, it appears that the holograms get to do more interesting things than those who watch them for escapism. Also it didn't seem as though THX had any ingrained fear of the hologram, so it seems as though old racial myths have been cast aside. Perhaps the citizens of THX world don't even think of themselves as white anymore and would get along with blacks after accepting them as real and not holo.

    On the subject of AI, I don't think there was any intentional racial theory going on with Chris Rock's character. I think he was reacting exactly as a robot programmed for comedy would in such a situation. His only way to process and react to the immediate threat of destruction would be to crack jokes in hopes that the audience would be won over by his skills as a comedian, thus saving him from nothingness. This is also shown in the behavior of the nanny-bot who goes to her death with a loving smile and in the behavior of Gigolo Joe whose sole motivation is servicing women. He only goes along with David because of the promise of the Blue Fairy, allegedly a real woman. Even his last words to David before his interception and delivery to an unseen fate are a request to be remembered to the ladies. Chris Rock's character behaves no differently than these "white" characters (quotations because robots don't really have race at all). If you want to examine race in AI, which I still think is a stretch, you'd have to approach it from the idea of the robots as a distinct race. However I don't think this view is entirely accurate as the robots more closely resemble superior children or a better breed as in comparing homo sapiens to neanderthals.

    ---------------------
    Although I agree with NeoBaggins belief that Lucas is free of racism, at least as shown in his works, I advise against thinking that a "positive" portrayal of a black man can not be racist. There is a concept among black film theorists called "the magical n*****." The idea is a criticism of the helpful black guy who appears in many films who seems to have no other purpose than to selflessly help improve the life of the white protagonist. They give the white hero street authenticity and prove that he is "down" while at the same time teaching valuable lessons, all without thought of reward. How swell, if you think the best way to deal with blacks is to portray them as kind-hearted neuters. This wouldn't be a concern if it was an infrequent occurence, a character that appears among many black portrayals, but it happens with startlingly high frequency, even more than the black villain (who has made a welcome return in recent years after being reconfigured to represent human villainy and not the white nightmare of blackness). The sick joke is that in a conscious effort to avoid more despicable racist caricatures, liberal white filmmakers have created yet another damaging stereotype.

    Now you might ask why does Lucas's hologram character not fit into this. Good question. The
  12. NeoBaggins Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2003
    star 5
    That was a great post.

    "I advise against thinking that a "positive" portrayal of a black man can not be racist."

    Oh trust me, im fully aware of that. I think sometimes things can be created with goodwill and intent yet come off offensively. If what Lucas has done with THX has offeneded anyone I dont think that was Georges intent. It seems his concerns were with the arty sci-fi elements of the film and not wanting to get too involved with politics or race. Still, I wish I could hear from his mouth what the sexual scene actually meant. Now i'll have to wait to get off work to go watch the scene with commentary. I just thought of that.It may answer alot of things.
  13. Emos-Edud Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    May 29, 2002
    star 4
    Thanks for the response. I wonder if other people aren't posting in here because the topic is too scary or because they don't think talking about THX is as valuable as guessing what color so-and-so's lightsaber will be in Ep3 or whether or not this EU character could beat an unnamed background Jedi.
  14. Bite_me_doughboy Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Oct 17, 2004
    I really wanted to buy Thx1138 for dvd, but because of the rating, i cant. i really wish lucas could have had some sense in his brain, but this was before starwars, so american grafitti was the only way people knew him.

    thx1138 was origionally lucas's student project, and fox thaught it was brilliant, so they commissioned him to make a big movie, and gave him the money, but it was so bad, fox actually wanted their money back!

    the dvd is supposed to be really good though.

    increase production, prevent accidents, be happy
  15. NeoBaggins Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2003
    star 5
    Hey guys. Its weird I keep forgetting about this area of the site. And I still didnt look at the scene in question with commentary. Has anyone else had a chance to? I guess if you did there would be a quote. BRB
  16. malducin Jedi Padawan

    Member Since:
    Oct 23, 2001
    star 4
    I wonder if other people aren't posting in here because the topic is too scary or because they don't think talking about THX is as valuable as guessing what color so-and-so's lightsaber will be in Ep3

    Not scary but esoteric and tangential about the topic at hand. It might be scary for todays viewers now, with all the sanitation and political corectness in film, as opposed as the experimentation back then or thecarefree anything goes of the 80s. After all how many would have seen the movie before the DVD came out. Of the new viewers how many will like it?
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