Are you a Blerd and proud of it? So am I, and if you fall into that category, then you know Blerdism — as all nerdism — gets energy from the Star Wars universe. So as you stand in the (long) lines waiting to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens, check out these 10 pieces of proof that there are brothers and sisters in a galaxy far, far away.
10. Storm Chased
We were giddy with Jedi-geek excitement earlier this year when we knew there would be a new trailer for The Force Awakens, but imagine the surprise when it turned out there really are Black Stormtroopers. Not only that, but this particular Stormtrooper (played by John Boyega) is the main character of the new trilogy. And of course a Twitter campaign to boycott Episode VII began. Because racism. No wonder poor “Finn” was on the run in the first few frames of the trailer.
9. Ooo La La
Nigerian-born British dancer Femi Taylor only had a few on-screen minutes during the Tatooine sequence in Return of the Jedi as Oola, Jabba the Hutt’s palace dancer. Her graceful part-ballet, part-traditional dance performance to the Max Rebo band’s “Lapti Nek” kept us looking and loving her. But unwilling to give in to Jabba’s demands (he was sort of the Al Capone of the galaxy), the drooling slug dropped her into the Rancor pit to be devoured. Still a popular character from ROTJ, she returned to reshoot her scenes for the 1997 special edition of the film.
8. Sam. Jack. ‘Nuff Said.
Of course Samuel L. Jackson was Mace Windu! He was just about the most badass thing about the prequels. In this scene from Attack of the Clones he shows what a bad mofo he could be when he decapitates bounty hunter Jango Fett. It shocks rich guy Count Dooku (himself a closeted Sith Lord who didn’t fight unless he had to), and breaks the heart of Fett’s son, Boba.
7. Death Wish
Han Solo’s fellow hustler Lando Calrissian, who betrayed him and traded him to be frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back, needed redemption. So George Lucas gave him plenty of it in Return of the Jedi. Earlier in the film he helps rescue Han from certain death in the sarlacc pit and springs him from Jabba’s clutches once and for all. But here, he pretty much changes the outcome of the Galactic Civil War by flying the Millennium Falcon into the heart of Death Star II, shooting a couple of times, and blowing it out of the sky. Unlike Luke Skywalker in A New Hope, Lando didn’t need Obi-Wan Kenobi’s guidance, he just needed a steady trigger finger.
6. Pryor Commitment
A cult favorite, Richard Pryor’s short-lived prime time show debuted in 1977 and ended after four episodes. But that year revolved around the original Star Wars (now known as Episode IV: A New Hope), so everyone had a take on it and Pryor was apparently a fan. Here, he becomes bartender at the cantina on Tatooine, hosting the “wretched hive of villany and scum” in one of the most hilarious skits on the show, which used costumes from the movie. “You look just like a n*gga from Detroit I know,” has to be one of the funniest lines he ever uttered. It’s not considered canon, and it’s really just a spoof, but it leaves you wondering what if Lucas had really cast him.
5. A Christmas Carroll
Lucas won’t even acknowledge that 1978’s “Star Wars Holiday Special” even happened, so it’s certainly not canon. Many agree that it’s some of the worst television to ever hit the airwaves, but there is one standout performance among all the otherwise cheesy music and corny dialogue. Diahann Carroll, playing a character named Mermeia, materializes in the technologically conjured fantasy of Chewbacca the Wookie’s father, Itchy. Of all the creatures in the galaxy he could fantasize about, it turns out to be the uber-sexy Carroll, who is more than happy to cater to him, “I find you adorable…” She then launches into a one-time-only performance of a song called “This Minute Now” which seemed more like something she’d do on The Merv Griffin Show. Still, it’s enough to make you forget what a bad show you were watching. “Julia” she wasn’t, but a fox she definitely was.
4. Leia Sings the Blues
“Do you want my arm to fall off?” Back in the day, Billy Dee Williams had this way of introducing himself to women. He used that line in Lady Sings the Blues and brought the same charm to The Empire Strikes Back. In his first few minutes he sidesteps Han Solo, who has come to Calrissian’s Cloud City for help and promptly puts the moves on Leia. “Hello, what have we here?” It’s too bad it’s all a set up.
3. Blazed Out
Jackson knew that his character had to be killed off, and he said publicly “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t wanna go out like some punk.” Instead he wanted to be sure Windu died in a “blaze of glory,” and he did, literally. Windu nearly stopped the “wars” in Star Wars from even happening when he battled Senator Palpatine, who was Darth Sidious in disguise. But identity-confused hipster Jedi Anakin Skywalker interrupts the wild lightsaber fight by cutting Windu’s arm off, leaving Sidious just enough time to blast Windu out of the window with force lightening. That pretty much changed everything and from there, Darth Vader was born.
2. Father Figure
The first six “Star Wars” movies hinge on this point. We all know it, and as kids it made our hearts sink when we heard it:
Vader: “Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.”
Luke: “He told me enough. He told me you killed him.”
Vader: “No, I am your father.”
We can still hear the gasps in the theater of one of the most memorable movie moments of all time. It’s enough that he cuts Luke’s lightsaber hand off, but then after that all he can do is let himself fall into Cloud City’s kilometers-deep reactor to an uncertain fate. So “how is this a Black Star Wars moment” you ask? Well, because this next moment makes it one…
1.Jedi Mind Trick
So the new Death Star is blown up, Darth Vader has killed the Emperor and become Anakin Skywalker again as a force ghost. Luke Skywalker and the gang are all gonna be okay, and the Ewoks are doing whatever annoying thing they do. Roll credits. But then we find out something none of us knew: Vader was voiced by none other than venerable thespian James Earl Jones, which was revealed to us as John Williams’ epic theme played. Jones declined credit for the first two movies because he felt that he was not a well-known enough actor at the time. He told the BBC in an interview “I’m happy to have been special effects.” But in other interviews he has said that he did not want to diminish the work of British actor David Prowse, who wore the Vader suit in Episodes IV, V and VI. Of course now Jones is known universally now as Vader as well as for a vast body of work on stage, screen and television.
He talks more about the role here with the American Film Institute
Madison J. Gray is Digital Managing Editor of EBONY.com and a card-carrying Blerd. Follow him on Twitter @madisonjgray.