Another in a long line of Great Debates, this week features two Film.com writers, Laremy Legel vs. Amanda Mae Meyncke. Although many people accuse Laremy of making up his name, and Amanda of having too many consonants in a row in her last name, they nonetheless remain worthy adversaries. In honor of the 30th anniversary of "The Return of the Jedi" (on Saturday, so mark your calendars) this week it will be all Ewok, all the time, let's step in the ring and get it on!
Laremy: Hi Amanda! My name is Laremy, and I'll be flambeing you today on the subject of Ewoks. Like most people in a dance movie, you should prepare to be served.
But first, let's set the table real nice. Pro-Ewok or Anti-Ewok? It's a debate as old as time itself, and I dare say it's one of the more pressing issues facing our country. Why? Because ol' double J Abrams is currently knee-deep in "Star Wars" lore, and a decision is coming about our favorite mammaloid bipeds. Could we see some Ewok callbacks in the next three "Star Wars" films? Might the logical alternative to Gungans, Ewoks, be utilized in a big way?
The answers, of course, should be heck and yes. Ewoks are flat-out awesome, they only stand a meter tall, but they are many meters worth of fun. They live in trees, extremely eco-conscious, and they were somewhat inspired by the Viet Cong guerrillas Okay, strike that last one, but you get the point, these cuddly devils offer the best of both worlds - strength paired with hugs, which I believe is the state motto of Vermont. Fact: Anyone who doesn't like the Ewoks is a bad person.
They sing, they dance, they chill with Lando! They come in different colors to match with all your outfits!
So yeah, Ewoks. There's no counter-argument, but you're forced to make it. In many ways, I feel bad for you, but not bad enough to give up my hope of an Ewok themed birthday party.
Amanda: Sir, how wrong you are! And what a mild serve. I volley back to you, or whatever it is the kids are saying these days.
I'm definitely Anti-Ewok, and proud of it. (Ewoks are never actually referred to as Ewoks in the original movies, didja know that? Well, if you did, then I'm guessing we both read the same wikipedia entry.) I like my science fiction nice and dark without any unnecessary watering down. While there's a lot of nonsense that must be accepted in the "Star Wars" canon, I put my foot down at gibberish-spouting teddy bears who manage to win a war with sling shots.
Ewoks were a desperate ploy to insert some warm fuzziness into a story that didn't need it, and were originally meant to be Wookies anyway. They cheapen the strength of the story in Return of the Jedi by distracting us with their unadorable antics. Halfway between a Care Bear, a monkey and a koala, the Ewoks are also just vaguely creepy.
Think about how much stronger the film would be if they hadn't been there to bail the rebellion out, if Luke and Leia and company were left to figure it out with a small elite rebel force? We're supposed to believe that a primitive people with rudimentary weapons are somehow able to take down an elite military force with the most technologically advanced weapons available to them? Why would the Empire leave the planet that houses their greatest military secret mostly undefended?
C'mon, not even you are that gullible, and since I just won the argument, I look forward to hearing your new birthday party theme.
Laremy: Well then, if I'd know it was gonna be that kind of party I would have started with Fonzie's "(e) Wocka Wocka" line. Too soon? Also, while we're on wordplay, "Ewok" backwards is "Woke" and it's probably time you were awoken to the fact that Ewok's rule, and The Empire drools. In de Face!
Because really, if we're really headed down the "Oh, The Empire so smart and competent" wormhole then I'll ask you why they left a shaft that reached the the center of the Death Star. Would that have been so hard to cement off?!? And what about the formidable AT-AT, the world's only 100ft top-heavy weapon. Me, you, and a ten foot piece of rope would have been able to win the Battle of Hoth. Yeesh. So it's no stretch to say the Ewoks could have won, they were on their home ground, and they had great leadership.
Also, did you know The Ewoks were created by Stuart Freeman, luminary make-up artist, the same guy who created a little fella by the name of Yoda? Have you heard of Yoda? See, he and them Ewoks are a package deal. And not for nothing, but Freeman had a righteous last name and lived until he was 98 years old. Now that's a life. An Ewok-laden life no less.
Lastly, formidable Ewok legend Wicket W. Warrick, the tri-W, was named the 17th best "Star Wars Hero" by IGN. You just gonna throw out numero 17? I think not.
Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be designing Ewoks for the new films, the leader of which I've tentatively named Laremet L. Legick.
Amanda: Oh, you poor sweet thing, I'm not entirely defending the Empire's lack of foresight. George Lucas should have made them a bit more invincible, but no great empire can last forever. Darth Vader can't be going over every little detail with his numbskull underlings, there's always weak links in the chain. (I'm also going to state that the AT-ATs were probably a prototype, and the next year's models were loads better.)
Your subterfuge about who created the Ewoks has been duly noted. People create great things and terrible things simultaneously all the time. Ben Franklin invented a pile of amazing things and then also invented a dog hair-based liquor that he couldn't get anyone to try. Freeman deserves major kudos for his work on Yoda, but Ewoks get a hard pass. Your argument is invalid.
Seventeenth? Then he basically must have come in dead last. Was anyone even awake at that point in the list-reading? Top five or get out of town, Warrick.
Ewoks are nothing but a marketing ploy meant to create more soft lovable toys to sell to children. In 1983, they were direct competitors of Cabbage Patch Kids, and a valuable part of the merchandising empire owned by Lucas. On a side note, Ewoks can't even seem to bend their arms or legs, but toddle around like drunken muppets. How useful is that in a mammaloid?
And I would argue that Ewoks directly led to the creation of Jar Jar Binks, a similarly silly character meant to relieve tension and appeal to children who turned out to be vaguely racist and terrible. Jar Jar Binks also relinquished power to the Emperor, which inevitably caused Anakin to turn to the dark side and nearly destroyed the Senate and the Jedi forces. So, without Ewoks, we may have been spared the living nightmare that is Binks. Yousa seesa?
Back to the drawing board for old Leremet L. Legick. I will accept your resignation and a letter commending my intelligence and brilliance, any time, day or night.
Laremy: I'm not going to lie, that mention of a dog-hair based liquor got me to thinking. I mean, I have a dog. Am I sitting on a goldmine distillery without even realizing? But no, I digress, we didn't come here for me to develop Ewodka, we came here for you to be wrong. Dead wrong.
At this point, back to the wall, my final serve, I'm forced to pull out the big guns.
First off, if you look at all six films, you'll notice that "Return of the Jedi" is the highest-earner of all-time. Yes, yes, adjusted for inflation, people who don't adjust for inflation are monsters. The fans spoke clearly, and they spoke in fluent Ewokese. The people, which, let's face it, are the "Star Wars" universe, love these cuddly little dudes. "Star Wars" has never even been about critical acclaim, it's always been about the fan-base, and the Ewoks play with the believers. They play all day long.
Re: Jar Jar Binks, how dare you. How. Dare. You. Jar Jar was a disaster, I grant, which is just another reason you should be cheering for the Ewoks to come back. The enemy of my Gungan is my Ewok and all that.
I've got two more eggs of knowledge to drop on you and then I'll allow you to surrender. Point numba one: Warwick Davis. That's who played Wicket. W. Warrick, and he is a genius. Watch this clip:
This guy is awesome, and he got one of his breaks from being an Ewok. Without the 'Woks we lose "Life's Too Short". You don't want that hanging on your conscious.
Finally, I didn't want to bring this up, but you're a heightist. You clearly have an issue with shorter people, I suppose because your ivory tower is so high up there? Something to ponder, a bit of the ol' self-reflection, but before you go let's both agree that there are currently dogs who look like Ewoks, and they are very cute, and they are also now possibly a source of liquor. This is about to go to the jury, so I'll give you the last word. Good luck, after standing against cuteness and light, you're gonna need it.
Amanda: I'll ignore your blustering and needless showmanship and delve into the heart of the matter.
"Return of the Jedi" is the highest earner because of a myriad of reasons, most having to do with the culmination of the original series. People were on board for Star Wars at that point, they may have missed out on the first one or two in the theaters but word of mouth and press made sure that the last one was seen by the majority of interested parties. Destruction of the Death Star, the revelation of Darth Vader, there's a million reasons that the film is the most popular, and it has nothing to do with Ewoks.
No one's life is materially made better by the inclusion of Ewoks. They're probably not even on the first ten pages of MUST HAVE characters for the series. And your refusal to understand the through line that leads us to Binks means you're already too far gone to save. Also, plenty of people got their breaks from being in the "Star Wars" films, and while Mr. Davis is certainly an amazing actor, he probably would have gotten discovered either way, given his considerable talent.
Your final point can barely be called that, more like the ramblings of a man who knows when he's beat. Being of average height myself, I consider myself a fan of all heights.
And finally, dogs look like dogs and are cute all on their own, and Ewoks look like deranged, demented Furbies.
I think in the end all we can do is agree that some people want their "Star Wars" on the cuter side, preferring the antics of young Anakin, Jar Jar Binks and even, yes, Ewoks. But for those of us who like our sci-fi space operas dark and menacing, the Ewoks will forever stand as a bizarre inclusion in a series that didn't need the extra fluff.