On the February 20, 2014 episode of Words With Nerds, I posited an ethical question rooted in Star Wars, the answer to which may carry implications for all of sci-fi, really.
Is it bestiality to make love to a Wookiee?
I suspect the initial response around the table would be an emphatic “no!” While I’m not arguing the merits of that answer, I don’t think that it’s as simple as it seems.
The reason is that I feel that answer is rooted deeply in our love (in the Platonic sense) for Chewbacca, Han Solo’s best friend and co-pilot. After all, Chewie is everyone’s favorite ape-dog and we’d hate to think of assigning such a distasteful notion as bestiality to the consummation of his relationships.
However, the simple fact remains that Chewbacca is an entirely different species than human. He is a Wookiee. By strict definition, to have sex with a different species is bestiality. If someone were to select any other species than human, while here on earth, we would call it that.
Intelligence As Mitigation
Granted, Chewbacca is an intelligent being. As my oft-irrational co-host argued in this circumstance, Wookiees can perform complex mechanical tasks, including the repair of a hyperdrive. By all accounts that is a difficult task requiring intellect.
I will point out, however, that Chewbacca missed a blinking red light in an open access panel at the end of The Empire Strikes Back indicating the hyperdrive had been switched to “off.” Had he looked there and flipped a switch, the light would turn green and the Millennium Falcon would have made a much cleaner escape.
So perhaps we need to allow that he’s not too intelligent. But I digress.
The baseline is that he possesses sentience. His species has mastered flight and builds complex and beautiful machinery.
To expand outward, Hutts also possess intellect. So do Rodians or any other aliens we encounter in that galaxy far, far away. If we are to judge that a human having sex with a Wookiee is committing bestiality, so would it be bestiality from the Wookiees’ point of view. Stepping further down this road, it adds an horrific extra layer to Jabba’s implied abuse of Leia in Return of the Jedi.
To step across the line using the same question in a different “reality,” let’s bring Star Trek into the mix. An Andorian and a Klingon would be committing bestiality from both perspectives if we disqualify intelligence/sentience as a mitigating factor. Worf the Klingon married a Trill female who had an asexual symbiont intellect living within her. So we go down a really dizzying tunnel in quick fashion.
Perhaps, then, we wish not to entertain the possibility of bestiality being the case here because it has a ripple effect that carries all the way into other science fiction franchises.
At the end of it all, I am unresolved still. While I want to fall firmly into the camp of “it’s not bestiality if Princess Leia leaves Han for Chewie,” I cannot escape a nagging thought that genetic compatibility is a necessity to put the matter to rest.
Wookiees and humans are both bipedal, but genetically humans and apes (or in the Star Wars universe, whatever they call their shared simian ancestors) are much closer and will be always. But if a human jumps the wall at the zoo and goes to town, as it were, we’re not going to look kindly on it.
But does that leave a human off the hook who hooks up with a Twi’Lek? I’m not sure that simply because they look more human and have the right parts (that we can see) in the right places, they should escape this scrutiny.
God never said anything about Wookiees in the Bible. Heck, I’m afraid of the implications this has for the romantic proclivities of one Capt. James Tiberius Kirk who, in one single judgment, could be elevated from James Bond-style cad to absolute pervert. I need some guidance here!
So where do you stand?