On Hutts, Mind Tricks, and the Force

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There are two species among the famous Star Wars alien races that are immune to “Jedi mind tricks”. We know them as the Hutts and the Toydarians, represented by Jabba and Watto in the films, respectively. If we delve deep into the question why are they resistant to the mind tricks, it actually brings us to realise some fundamental truths about the Force itself. But let’s start from the beginning.

The Force-Resistant Criminals

Both “the” Toydarian and “the” Hutt have surprisingly many things in common. Both are shady characters connected to the underworld, both are slave-masters, both run their businesses on Tatooine. And both treat Jedi attempts to mind trick them as joke.

Most of their attributes can be explained by them simply filling similar role in the films, as well as in their own environment. Indeed, from outside-the-story perspective, Watto is clearly a parallel to Jabba in his own way (even though a lesser and far less dangerous version).

But what about the Force resistance? Does it somehow stem from their naturally strong will, perhaps necessary to thrive in the tricky environment of the underworld, with all its scheming and backstabbing? Perhaps, perhaps strong will is a factor. The Force Awakens has recently served us a great example that strong will can resist an attempt to Force control someone (I am talking, of course, about Rey resisting Kylo Ren’s interrogation). In Return of the Jedi, Jabba implies that his will is strong while chastising his servant for being too weak. Obi-Wan personally explains to Luke that “the Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded”. Yet is this the whole truth? Strong will alone would not be enough to completely resist mind control attempts by powerful Jedi. And it is Watto who even says: “Jedi tricks don’t work on me. I am a Toydarian.”

We have only Watto’s word on this, but I would trust him here to refer to an objective truth. And after all, we see that Qui-Gon himself is unable to affect Watto’s mind. Jabba may boast about his own strong will – certainly honed by decades of dealing with the most coercive underworld bosses – but just like with Watto, there is something he really can’t claim a credit for, even though he would like to. His species have certain natural resistance to mind tricks. Hutts and Toydarians – indeed, some rumours even said that their species were distantly related. What is at play here? It is clear that we are looking at something which is, by nature, a biological trait.

Biology and the Force

On the “scientific” level, it is apparent the explanation to certain species’ mind trick resistance must lie somewhere in their biology. Neither Jabba nor Watto (or Hutts/Toydarians as species) seem to be specifically interested in the Force: we can rule out any assumptions that they would have undergone some specific training that would make them more resistant to the Force. They were simply born that way. Maybe their brains – their neural system, whatever exactly it is – just don’t respond to the classic “mind trick” technique because they are too different, too complicated – too “alien”, if one can use such a word.

But now we are touching something important, the core of the problem. The objectors would say: but isn’t the Force present in all living things equally? Shouldn’t it therefore be able to affect a human, a Wookiee and a Hutt the same way? Well, yes and no. It should be equally easy for a Jedi to levitate a mouse or a rancor, but it often is more difficult to levitate the latter. The obstacle, in such a case, is in the mind of the Jedi. But our focus is the receiver, not the Jedi.

There Is No Mind Trick

To truly understand the Force in the Jedi way, we must step outside the cathegories we tend to think in. The things Jedi do are not some “Force spells”. There isn’t really a “Force lightning” or “Force choke” or “Force mind trick”, even if we classify them as such. We use such labels because it makes it clear to communicate what is happening here. But what actually happens is something different.

Let’s go back to the problem of levitating a Rancor. We all remember the famous scene from Luke’s training on Dagobah where he is unable to lift a ship from the swamp because “it’s too big”. Yoda convinces him that all that exists only in Luke’s head. A perfect Jedi should be able to tell a mountain to cast itself into the sea and it would do that. The problem is that such 100% Jedi don’t really exist.

Now, before we get too far, I am not saying that a “100% Jedi” would be able to mind-trick a Toydarian. She might. But that isn’t the point. The point is that we must stop thinking about mind tricks. There is only the Force, and a way it affects everything. You may decide to affect a stone in such a way that it starts moving upwards. You may decide to affect an admiral’s windpipe in such a way that it closes and chokes him. You may decide to polarise particles in the air in such a way that it creates electricity. And you may decide to affect a stormtrooper’s mind to think that he actually doesn’t see you, or that these aren’t the droids they are looking for.

Those Without Brains

How does this relate to the problem with Hutts and Toydarians, then? Well, let’s put it this way. It may simply be a matter of the physical impossibility of the feat – not because “you can’t”, but because Hutts and Toydarians lack a brain that would work in the same way a human brain works. You cannot do what we classify as “mind trick” because they actually don’t have “mind” in the conventional sense. Similarly, you could for example run into a problem that you cannot Force choke a droid, because it has no windpipe. You can do other things to it (like crush its neck, if it has one), but not this particular thing. And one could imagine some other species that might, for instance, lack conventional respiratory system – let’s imagine some sort of insect that breathes through spiracles all over its body. You could block them in some way, but it would require a completely different approach.

What is perhaps the most unusual about this train of thought is the implication that Hutts and Toydarians actually lack brains as we know it. What may be puzzling about such assumption is that they look, outwardly, like they should have brains – the same kind of brains (and probably in their heads). They act human-like, they have the same basic responses. But a biologist could tell you that two completely different species can show very similar, if not identical attributes, but those may be caused by completely different biological dispositions. This might very well be the case.

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Rostislav Kurka
Rostislav is a Protestant theologian and a self-trained Sith, counting Jan Hus, Darth Revan and Darth Traya among his main influences. He hails from the hundred-towered city of Prague, where he had spent a large part of his life creating worlds and inspiring young generations to roleplay. His involvement in organising children's camps led him to accidentally writing a Lord of the Rings musical, which made him temporarily famous, and a Three Musketeer-Jedi fanfilm, which didn't. He has recently moved to the frozen waste of Finland, because that's it, the Rebels are there.