Words

Justine Smith

Illustration

Choppingjerks

Makin’ Wookie – A brief history of Star Wars porn parodies

George Lucas’ space saga was instrumental in kick-starting the X-rated spoof industry.

As one of the most pervasive pop cultural icons of the past one hundred years, Star Wars has o ered up ripe material for all kinds of mockery. One of those, inevitably, was the time-honoured porn parody. The rst wave of parody pornography arrived in the 1970s when American obscenity laws had softened to the point where major cities were able to screen feature length erotica such as Deep Throat, Debbie Does Dallas and The Devil in Miss Jones. The landscape of pornography, which was once hidden away behind closed doors, was suddenly out in the open. While the majority of audiences were still wary to be associated with an industry tied to the counterculture and, often, the Ma a, those sitting on the fence appeared to nd pornography wrapped up in a light comedy narrative more socially acceptable.

Since then, there have been at least two major waves of popularity for the porn parody, each one imbued with increased sophistication. In an industry currently competing with endless stores of gratis online pornography, a well-made porn parody of a popular television series or movie has proven to be lucrative. Speaking with Adult Video Network, Jeff Mullen of X-Play explained the genre’s appeal: “We got an entirely new segment of people that were willing to buy porn that didn’t ever walk into a porn shop or order online before,” he says. “They wanted to see The Brady Bunch porn, they wanted to see Three’s Company porn.” While most porn is easily consumed on free tube websites, there is a novel appeal in owning a parody of your favourite movie or TV show, even potentially driving up sales of the original property.

Companies like X-Play focus on parodying pop culture that has cross-generational appeal. Products like Star Wars and The Brady Bunch were able to connect with as wide an audience as possible. While there have been similar porn parodies of recent political events, such as Hustler’s infamous 2008 film, Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?, they don’t command the same budget or sustainable audience as a popular television programme. The high production values of some of these films have meant that most DVDs are bundled with alternative versions with the adult sections edited out so that home viewers can enjoy the parody without the sex.

The appeal of porn parodies for a wide audience satis es two impulses: it indulges in a fantasy of having your favourite characters get it on and it also engages with pornography as a group experience. It offers viewers an opportunity to be ‘naughty’ and watch porn with their friends while having the comedy offset much of the discomfort. Comedy, horror and pornography have long occupied a similar space in the cinematic landscape where they reach for visceral reactions.

Where fear and laughter are socially sanctioned, arousal is not. Matching pornography with comedy means laughter overrides the most uncomfortable elements associated with sexual desire. Offsetting the real implications of wanting to watch pornography, it allows viewers to dip their toes in titillation without the shame of admitting they want to get off. Porn parodies have come to occupy that same cultural space as the people who used to read Playboy “for the articles.”

More so than any other sub-genre of pornography, the parody occupies the most accepted space in the mainstream. Aside from other obvious gimmicks, it might be the only kind of pornography that is regularly reviewed by the mainstream press. Websites such as the Splitsider cover porn parodies in columns like ‘This is Research’ where Sarah Schneider reviews popular titles as The Big Lebowski: A XXX Parody and This Ain’t Ghostbusters XXX. Focused as much on comedy as sex, she unveils the curious appeal of the genre. In her first entry, on the 30 Rock parody, she asks “Why do these films exist? Who watches them?” Over the course of about a dozen columns, it becomes evident that the veil of parody allows Schneider to also talk about the representation of sex in a real and almost banal way. At di erent moments she discusses camera angles, body parts and dirty talk (objecting especially to this line from Seinfeld XXX, “I wanna drink you. I wanna have you in my tummy.”)

Over the past few decades, pornography has only increased its presence in cultural and social circles. It does, however, remain a solitary and uncritical enterprise. Most discussions of porn are reduced to a question of ethics, while the discussions of artistic or even titillating merits saddle up with Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 proclamation in the landmark Jacobellis v Ohio obscenity ruling: “I know it when I see it.” It almost seems unquestionable in 2016 that a film like Louis Malle’s notorious 1958 work, Les Amants, would be subject to an obscenity case, but what kind of critical advancements have we made since then in the discussion of eroticism and sex on screen?

As filmmakers like Gaspar Noé and Catherine Breillat tease the boundary between obscenity and art, it seems pornographers are doing the same. Porn parodies which bridge the gap between gratification and entertainment might actually offer an opening for critical engagement with pornography. In pornography and beyond, issues of desire and sexuality still seem glossed over, in particular in terms of aesthetics and thematic implication. As these filmmakers themselves strive to create better products, some of which are presented sans sex, this should be seen as a challenge to critics to follow suit and flex their sexual imagination in writing about eroticism on screen

 

A guide to five decades of…

Star Babe (1977)

Set in 2080, Star Babe was released the same year as A New Hope. In the lm, three sparkle covered Star Babes are sent to Planet Phallus where they need to recover some secret plans and prevent an alien takeover of planet earth. Very tangentially a parody of Star Wars, the movie does feature a Darth Vader costume, a stormtrooper mask and a cantina scene. Neither funny nor particularly sexy. It’s certainly an oddity in the annuls of cheaply made pornography of the 1970s. Extreme close-ups that completely abstract the body parts and actions they portray seem like a bizarre relic of the avant-garde rather than an erotic impulse. Disembodied genitals peek out of cheap Halloween costumes (including a gorilla, a werewolf, and Nixon) and are matched with the performers’ nonsensical impersonations of classic Universal monsters. With a mercifully short running time, this parody is a great document more than a great film.

Sex Wars (1985)

Sex Wars is perhaps the most famous of the first wave of Star Wars parody films. Made just a few years after the release of Return of the Jedi, it arrived during the perfect storm of most SW superfans hitting early adulthood with the newfound accessibility of the VHS tape. Running up against what will become a major problem in most of these parody films, the movie splits the role of Leia over several women, making up for the gender disparity of the original series. Familiar as both pornography and parody, the movie has recognisable Star Wars iconography such as Admiral Ackbar and the crawling text that goes on and on and on. Remarkably, the film does have some expressionistic edges, including a blowjob intercut with a percolating volcano. And, in a subversive move, rather than shy away from the underlying incest inherent Luke and Leia’s sexual attraction, Sex Wars embraces it.

Space Nuts (2003)

This seems to be more of a riff on Spaceballs than Star Wars, which make it a porn parody of a parody. Running at nearly three hours, the film features not only a whole lot more sex than the other films, but far more plot as well. Seemingly made by cinephiles, Space Nuts takes as many hits at Kubrick as it does Star Wars, including a funny extended sequence with Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Fitting in as many sex jokes as possible (this is episode 69 and is centred on a ball-shaped chin Palpatine knock-off and Princess Hubaba), the combined running time of all the sex scenes eclipse the two previous parodies combined. The sex scenes often seem dropped in rather than integrated, and, inexplicably. all feature an overwhelming guitar shredding soundtrack. Hardly great cinema, this one is fun, though way too bogged down with lifeless and uninspired grinding.

Star Wars XXX (2012)

With ritzier production values than most mid-2000s parody films, Star Wars XXX manages to transcend pornography. With genuine laughs and a sophisticated sexiness, it is perhaps the only Star Wars porno where the performers don’t break character once they undress. Rather than just rely on cheap gags and heavy winks, the movie imagines a Star Wars universe where the characters have real erotic desires and it builds off that premise. The filmmaking itself is surprisingly sophisticated and relies not only on sexual puns but visual gags, including a funny take on Vader’s overzealous and ineffective force choke. With a charming script and decent-to-good performances, Star Wars XXX is emblematic of the porn parody as a communal experience. Salacious enough to be exciting and commendably fast paced, the film appeals directly to fans and also operates as a diversionary social experience. Big thumbs up.

Published 13 Dec 2016

Tags: George Lucas Star Wars

Read More

Gareth Edwards: The Last Detail

By David Jenkins

Inside the hyper-charged mind of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story director.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

By Adam Woodward

Gareth Edwards opts for the slow burn over the whiz-bang in this Star Wars spin-off. The results are spectacular.

review LWLies Recommends

LWLies 67: Rogue One – A Star Wars colour-in edition

By Little White Lies

Take an exclusive look inside our latest print issue. Available now in a galaxy near you...

What are you looking for?

Little White Lies Logo

About Little White Lies

Little White Lies was established in 2005 as a bi-monthly print magazine committed to championing great movies and the talented people who make them. Combining cutting-edge design, illustration and journalism, LWLies has been described as being “at the vanguard of the independent publishing movement.” Our reviews feature a unique tripartite ranking system that captures the different aspects of the movie-going experience. We believe in Truth & Movies.

Editorial

Design