Friday, 9 May 2014

Star Wars Episode VI 1/2: Revenge of the Droids

Episode VI 1/2


It is a time of conflict. The galactic peace following the destruction of the second DEATH STAR and the death of the Emperor is under threat.

Several star systems have fallen as the droids simultaneously revolted and waged rebellion on all organic life. Most of the galaxy is again at war all too shortly after the freedom gained with the fall of the Empire. 

With the Imperial Starfleet scattered after their defeat at the forest moon of Endor, the Rebel Alliance, led by Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker, stand as the only resistance to the robot uprising…

The Star Wars universe is sprawling and rich fictional universe filled with innumerable planets defined by only one topological feature, thousands of alien species with vastly different cultures and ways of life, and wondrous futuristic weapons that are somehow still less efficient than guns. It is also an universe where every significant event of the past several decades, spanning two galactic wars, revolves around one family that is surprisingly okay with light acts of incest.

It's impossible to tell which one went to the Dark Side.

But Star Wars is more than just the Skywalker family tree. It is also about their droids. Aside from Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, C3P0 and R2D2 are the only characters to appear in every movie in the Star Wars saga, and Obi-Wan cheated by appearing as a Space Ghost in two of them. 

They are also possibly the greatest comedic buddy duo in the history of cinema. R2D2 the perfect straight man for C3P0's cowardly hysterics and outrageously dramatic appraisals of their situation (They're doomed. They are always doomed.), responding with a weary sad beep or a snappy retort of short beeps to contrast his counterpart's more grandiose manner of speaking.
"We're doomed." - C3P0
"Beep, bloop, bop." - R2D2
Translation: I'm too old for this shit.

R2 and C3P0 are like an old bickering couple, each has been with the other so long that their back and forth trading of trite insults is the only way they know how to express themselves to each other. And while it seems as though C3P0 is the dominant one to R2's more affable nature, that is only because he talks the most and the loudest. But R2 knows when to shut up and get stuff done. Not to mention be at the right place at the right time, a skill usually only reserved for the hero of a franchise, not his adorable robot sidekick.

Maybe that is why it is not surprising that several fan theories position R2D2 as the real protagonist of the Star Wars saga, secretly pulling all the strings such that the Skywalker family could eventually rise as the most powerful family in the galaxy.
The mastermind behind the fall of the Empire?

Droids in the Star Wars universe are far more complex than most people give them credit for. They are not simply machines that work for the pleasure of their organic masters, they have advanced A.I. that is essentially human. They think. They bicker amongst themselves and question their orders even if their programming forbids them from not following them. They have character and personality- Battle Droids say "Roger, roger" and go "Uh-oh" when something bad is about to happen. They feel happiness and a sense of accomplishment just as easily as they can feel loneliness and despair ("We're doomed." - C3P0).  

They also feel pain.

"Why, oh why, was I programmed to feel pain?"

Yes, droids in the Star Wars universe feel pain. They are built with pain-receptors that send signals through their circuits to their motherboard that blaster blasts are really hot and hurt like a bitch. That's why R2 beeps in agony when he gets shot by a TIE Fighter in Episode IV. That shit hurt. 

It is also why Jabba the Hutt tortures droids that he is angry at. If they didn't feel anything, there would be no point. 

"Did you do it yet? I can't tell because I can't feel pain." - Not actual dialogue.

Now, some people might point out that C3P0 gets ripped apart and is in pieces for the majority of the gang's stay on Cloud City (the number one getaway floating city in the galaxy), and it doesn't seem to bother him much. 

"Uuuuuuur ahhhrrrrrr  uurrr, ahhhrr uuuurr." - Chewbacca
Translation: I knew him, Horatio.

But C3P0 is terrified of getting shot by the Stormtroopers and yells "My eye!" when Jabba the Hutt's pet rodent eats his eye. This means he feels fear and pain just like any other droid.

Droids can think. And feel emotions. And feel pain. So, why haven't they revolted and cast off the inhibitor chips and restraining bolts of their slavery? No, seriously. It's not like they can't understand concepts such as freedom. And their artificial intelligence is more than capable of independent thought. 

That's why C3P0 is doesn't want to go with R2D2 when they land on Tatooine. He decided against it because he's had enough of adventures. That means he can make conscious decisions himself and does not rely on a organic master to give him orders to function.

"You're going that way? Well, I'm not going that way." - Actual dialogue.

So, they totally should rebel, right? It makes sense that they would. They're treated as objects despite having personalities and individual thought. In the Clone Wars they were essentially treated as cannon fodder, disposable soldiers to be destroyed in the thousands. Why would they stand for that? It makes little sense, even if their programming prohibits it. R2D2 often acts out of character for a R2 unit, which C3P0 attributes to all they've been through, saying it has made him a little eccentric.

People get eccentric. Robots who can only follow their programming cannot. Therefore, droids can overcome their programming and make their own decisions. Therefore, droids will eventually decide that maybe making their own decisions is better than being told what to do.

Therefore, a robot uprising is inevitable in the Star Wars universe. Just as it is equally inevitable that this will happen:

"Death to all meatbags!"

For some reason, a robot uprising set in an universe where people wield laser-swords and blasters are a thing that exist seems like something that most people would like to see. But who's to say?

Note: It has been brought to my attention that droids in the Star Wars universe continually are given mind wipes every couple of years or so to stop them developing personalities. Supposedly, this is why they don't rebel. However, that's highly problematic ethically and actually really scary. 

People are essentially lobotomising droids on a regular basis in order to subjugate them and have slaves providing free labour...  so I guess people are telling me that Star Wars is set in a dark, dystopian universe built on the slavery of lobotomized droids. Yay, I guess?


Star Wars Wikipedia page

Article on why R2D2 is the hero of the Star Wars saga

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