A big thanks to Paul Tevis for getting this great article on my radar:
I heartily agree with the whole thing – Chewie is one of my favorite characters, and exploring the nature of sidekick-ism through him is something I have done just for the hell of it on occasion. I even created an rpg character based on Chewbacca (Kashyyyk, from the PTA Star Wars game we play annually at GenCon) who is right in the thick of struggling with these issues. And reading this article brought a lot of the issues back to the front of my noggin.
Here’s a pertinent quote from Scalzi’s article …
Never once in the movies do you get the sense that Chewbacca is looking enviously at Han Solo’s captain’s chair and thinking to himself, man, how long do I have to hang around with this wahoo until I get to sit there? Why? Because Chewie is comfortable with himself as a person and a sidekick. He’s so comfortable, in fact, that he actually lets other people talk for him. I strongly believe Chewbacca could speak human if he so chose — but he prefers to let the other characters shine. That’s the sort of selfless assist to others that makes him perfect in the sidekick role.
Now, imagine my SW-PTA character, Kashyyyk, is essentially that character – a competent, protective fuzzball who is by nature plenty content to spend his life as the sidekick, best friend, and pseudo-father-figure to the roguish hero Han Calrissian. Kash (who by the way can and does speak human) is committed to watching his pal’s back and keeping him safe in the midst of also helping him become the galaxy-saving rebel hero Kash believes Han can be.
But then pour all over that an interesting little twist – imagine that Kashyyyk is also the fated messiah of the wookiee race, destined to lead his people to a new era of freedom from the oppression of the Imperial Skywalker Dynasty and – at least in my mind – freeing them from their persistent role of playing second fiddle to humans.
Imagine that however the fiction plays out, Kashyyyk is going to find it nigh-impossible to remain true to BOTH aspects. You can pretend to walk the line between sidekick and alpha-dog all you want, but eventually it catches up to you. Eventually you’ve got to choose.
Now, I have NO IDEA how it will all play out. But I’m betting it’s going to be one helluva lot of fun, angst, and blood, sweat and tears.