Admiral Piett

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Character
Name: Admiral Piett (Firmus Piett)
Occupation: employee of Darth Vader
Title/Rank:
Location:
Status: despite all odds, alive
Relationships:
Fandom: Star Wars
Other:
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Admiral Piett is a character in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Aside from Darth Vader, he is the only Imperial officer to return in both movies.

Piett manages to escape Vader's wrath and to some fans, a sort of everyman who is stuck in a terrible job and is doing his best to stay alive and out of trouble. Piett is perhaps a nod to the reality that many evil empires are staffed by people following orders and collecting a paycheck, something that makes their crimes not less, but perhaps even more horrifying in its mundane ordinariness.

Piett's Role in a Controversy

Hoth Admiral by was a Star Wars fic by Barbara T and Sylvia Stevens. It featured Piett and an original male character named Serzsho as lovers. The story was non-explicit.

This story was created at a time when Lucasfilm was trying to keep the lid on some themes in fanfiction. See Open Letter to Star Wars Zine Publishers by Maureen Garrett for more context on this topic.

As per Lucas' request, in the summer of 1981, the editor of the zine "Imperial Entanglements" (Karen Osman) submitted, "Hoth Admiral," a non-explicit slash story to Lucasfilm for their review and consideration.

In September 1981, Maureen Garrett and Lucasfilm's legal counsel rejected the story, saying:

We're terribly sorry, but we cannot authorize homosexual expression of love among the characters created by George Lucas. This controversial subject must remain detached from the world created by Lucasfilm in order to preserve the innocence even Imperial crew members must be imagined to have.

Your story does not need our characters in order to portray homosexuality among certain crew members of an other-worldly vessel in galactic space and time. There are deeper, psychological themes which should be creatively explored here, in fact you are unnecessary restricting yourself by forcing the story into the confines of the characters you have chosen to copy.

If you rework your story using characters of your own imagination, rather than being forced to abandon your ideas, you will find your self with a work entirely your own and increase its value ten-fold.

Thank you for forwarding your story. Please do not publish your story with our characters. [1]

The editor of "Imperial Entanglements," Karen Osman, wrote a letter of protest directly to Lucasfilm. In the letter, she explained that the proposed story contained no physical expressions of any kind of sexual activity and lacked reference to anatomical details. By excluding non-explicit homosexual fan fiction while allowing non-explicit heterosexual fanfiction, Lucasfilm would be adopting a prejudicial and offensive attitude towards gays and lesbians. She also took issue with the concept that "even Imperial crew members" must be allowed to maintain their "innocence" by pointing out that these same Imperial crew members had committed acts of genocide, mutilation and torture. And by setting "homosexual expressions of love" in opposition to "innocence" Lucasfilm would be implying that homosexuality was morally undesirable. The letter ended with the editor somewhat wryly commenting that previously published slash fan fiction in the Star Wars universe had not harmed the Star Wars brand. An official policy of prejudice against an organized minority might, however. The editor then distributed the two letters amongst Star Wars fanzine publishers. [2]

A month passed, and soon second-hand reports began circulating that perhaps Lucasfilm might be reconsidering their stance against slash fan fiction. On October 21, 1981 one of the authors of "Hoth Admiral," (Barbara T) wrote directly to Maureen Garrett seeking confirmation of the rumors:

Thank you very much for the several statements I have heard of that you've made to the effect that you've reconsidered the Executor stories...sent to you in mid-September by [the editor], and that you no longer intend to object to their being published. I hope this also applies to other fan-written stories involving homosexual characters, as long as they, too, remain non-explicit about sex and within the rather nebulous bounds of good taste.

May I have your confirmation of these secondhand reports? I have received no reply to my original letter, and as one of the authors of this material, I am naturally rather anxious to know, directly from you, what your intentions are.[3]
The response was brief and to the point:
This is to confirm our conversation that we do not object to fan-written stories involving homosexual characters, as long as they, too, remain non-explicit about sex and within the rather nebulous bounds of good taste. [4]

Fan Comments

At least one fan saw Admiral Piett as a calm voice of reason in a fanfic trend she couldn't abide:
Is there anyone else out there just as fed up with all this Jedi children garbage as I am? Can't stand to hear or read one more line about the oh-so-happy-and-Force-gifted Solo family or Luke the teacher. Is it just my unpresuming impression or are the pro- and antagonists of the original SW taking a back seat now to all kinds of "new and improved" characters that lead us farther and farther away from what the canon was all about? Instead of Han, Leia, Luke, Pert, Antilles and all the other beloved characters, we get Zip, Zap and Zilch, the Boomerang Fisheries who of course are all Force sensitive and clearly disguised clones of Palpatine, Vader and Hillary Clinton! Blah! And if we do get "our heroes", what do we get? A wimpy, whining Han. A weak, taking-the-easy-way-out Leia. Threepio as babysitter... And what's more, this is not to be considered simply a spoof or "alternative universe". No, those folks out there in pro writers' land actually mean what they say. Gimme your hat, Piett... I wanna puke in it! [5]

Fanworks

The Executor Cycle

This is the fic series featuring a same sex couple that LucasFilm gave the green light to.

Not in the series, but in the same universe:

  • Shadow on the Dark Side by Pat Spath and Ann Wilson (Antithesis #19) (1982)
  • With the Admiral's Leave by Karen Osman (Organia) (1982)

Other Fanworks

Meta and Further Reading

References

  1. letter to the editor (Karen Osman) of Imperial Entanglements, dated September 16, 1981, submitted by Barbara T, one of the two authors of "Hoth Admiral"
  2. editor's letter to Lucasfilm, undated, submitted by Barbara T.
  3. Barbara T's letter to Maureen Garrett at Lucasfilm dated October 21, 1981, submitted by Barbara T.
  4. Maureen Garrett's October 30, 1981 letter on official letterhead, signed " Director - STAR WARS Fan Club, Lucasfilm Ltd.", submitted by Barbara T.
  5. from Southern Enclave #42 (1995) See here