Northwest Center is pleased to welcome Trevor Pacelli as a contributing writer. Trevor has drawn on his experiences as a person with autism and his creative talents since he was a child. At 15, he illustrated a children's book about autism awareness written by his sister Briana, “The Kindergarten Adventures of Amazing Grace.” At 19, he wrote a book in the "Six-Word Lessons" series to help families understand how a person with autism thinks and feels. He has also written for news outlets such as CNN and, drawing on his degree in film and media studies from Arizona State University, regularly writes about the cinema.
By Trevor Pacelli, contributing writer
Happy Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you)! In honor of the legendary saga, I would like to discuss how the beloved characters can encourage us to keep pressing ahead despite physical challenges, as well as address questionable depictions of physical differences.
Warning: spoilers ahead!
Luke and Anakin Skywalker each gave a different response to losing a hand in lightsaber duels, with their new limitations drawing them both toward evil in different ways. One came out before it was too late; the other allowed darkness to take over—only to receive further physical and psychological scars. Luke’s prosthetic hand reminded him to avoid his father’s fate, which is like real life: permanent battle scars can remind you of past errors or triumphs. They can signify strength, not vulnerability. Anakin Skywalker, on the other hand, exhausted his pain into anger once Count Dooku cut his arm off.
In the current trilogy, Supreme Leader Snoke’s face is full of scars, dents, and decay, suggesting a painful past which brought him to rule with evil in his veins. This is a very common trope in other movies, where disfigured characters are evil (The Joker, Freddy Krueger, Scar from The Lion King) while the heroes look perfect. Such images can lead to wrong conclusions with viewers that if they have any kind of warped appearance, the best option is to turn it into hatred against the world, because apparently, beauty is the only sign of success.
While there may have been minor cases in real life where people became bad because of a marred appearance (more often caused by bullying), it’s not at all true for most. I, for one, have met more people who looked “different” and were greatly pleasant to be around than those who were unpleasant.
But what if you were different right from when you were born? The naturally short Yoda never let any prejudice stop his accomplishments as one of the wisest Jedi Knights on the council. In our world, short people receive bias from people of “normal” height, but we earthlings can learn from one simple philosophy. Yoda tells Luke, “Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm?” He then used the Force to free Luke’s drowned X-wing.
The same could go for anyone relatively short here on Earth (granted, without the convenience of the Force). If Yoda can use the Force as well as any other Jedi, then you can still be a doctor, psychologist, artist, or anything you’re best at. The only obstacle is that you may need some stepping stools and booster seats, but that’s okay! If in the end you can do the job just as well as anyone else, that’s all that matters.
Thanks for reading. May the Force be with you!
Northwest Center is passionate about equal rights, anti-ableism, and full inclusion for people with disabilities. Thank you for reading.