The Moral Vacuum of the Star Wars – The Clone Wars CG Series

It’s come to this. Brief comments about this show on Twitter, sparking the occasional brief conversation, will no longer suffice to contain my concerns. It has to be…a blog post.

I want to address a glaring omission from the new Clone Wars series. Having seen the first three series in their entirety I feel qualified to make this critique: droids in this show are treated worse than slaves, worse than bicycles and stereos, which at least garner some kind of emotional attachment from their owners.

I watched countless episode after countless episode where battle droids of various flavours clearly show emotions; hope, fear, dreams of the future; even some primitive forms of slapstick comedy (AI is tough, ok?). And yet the heroes of this show, our heroes, ceaselessly, mindlessly and brutally slaughter these droids in every possible way, viciously slashing them into tiny steaming molten metal pieces, sometimes mere seconds after they’ve expressed some kind of private, personal concern.

Now I don’t have a problem with this on the surface- science fictional/fantasy narratives like Star Wars exist to explore concepts such as this, after all. What concerns me is that this brutal slaughter and slave-race mentality is never addressed. Not once. Ever.

I watched the twi’lek sidekick of young Anakin run a circle around a group of tripped-up battle droids, trailing her light saber behind her and slicing their heads in two.

I watched endless numbers of sentient creatures hacked into smithereens by our heroes, and not once in 66 or so episodes did someone say ‘these droids tick every box of ‘personhood’ and ‘personality’, so how is it ok for us to slaughter them like this?’

I think this failure to even recognise the slaughter of countless sentient creatures is more horrific than anything the Sith can dream up.

Palpatine must be chuckling heartily.

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23 thoughts on “The Moral Vacuum of the Star Wars – The Clone Wars CG Series

    • I think that’s the point .01! How would you feel if you were just a poor ol’ droid punched out of the factory, with hopes and dreams, and suddenly, smasheroon! BROKED FOREVER.

      • Were these hopes and dreams programmed in or do I come to my own realisation that I had them?

      • They are manufactured to be thrown to the slaughter. If they were allowed to go off on these so called hopes and dreams, the war would be lost.

      • It’s more a discussion of the show’s authors completely ignoring the brutal murder of sentient beings. In the Star Wars universe itself, this behaviour is perfectly acceptable. But it would be nice to see a character say ‘hey, yanno, I heard that droid contemplating the meaning of life before, let’s NOT cut his face into tiny bits.’

  1. But droids don’t have midiclorians. Which is the Star Wars equivalent of saying they don’t have a soul.

    (The irony is I suspect battledroids were how Lucas tried to get around the moral murkitude of having his heroes slaughter living beings like Stormtroopers.)

    • That is exactly the irony – by making them non-living things, it’s ok to murder them. But someone surely would think ‘hm, this is as much a person as my friend here?’ The simple fact that there is no commentary from the writers of the show implies they never even considered the horrifying implications of the actions of our heroes. Imagine a show where women were constantly abused and murdered, and no one ever questioned it because…well…they’re women…

      • They have fear and stuff. No reason to build that into them if they are just expendable bots. I think it’s a trap of Lucas wanting to have mass slaughter without blood, and stupid comedy jokes, so he made them have personalities. But he doesn’t explore the implication of that. That’s probably because he’s too busy sodomising the dead corpse of my childhood Star Wars memories.

      • Sure – but you would expect the show to point that out. That the show doesn’t even notice that they are heartless killing machines is where the moral failing comes in.

  2. Assuming this is an irony-free post (a big assumption), I’ll take the bait and respond in earnest:

    In the movies there was no mourning the fallen Stormtroopers. They were nameless, faceless battle casualties whom our heroes gave not one moment of remorse… and did anyone ever think less of them? Not that I’m aware of. However, our heroes did show respect and even attachment for some droids who fought alongside them against the enemy. So, in fact, there is a tacit acknowledgement of a droid being “alive”. Case in point: the relationship between Luke and R2. But if human soldiers are not worthy of our heroes’ empathy, why would the battle droids those enemies mindlessly deploy by the millions, with programming designed to exterminate our heroes with extreme prejudice, engender any feeling of sorrow whatsoever?

    As a writer on Clone Wars, I can assure you that the creative staff of the series has a deep and abiding affection for droids — the droids, that is, who fight against Separatists and Stormtroopers. As for enemy droids… I love me some metal carnage!

    • Hi Brent! Are you really a writer on Clone Wars? I consider myself duly humbled. The post is a little tongue-in-cheek, but rolls along the same lines as ‘what about the innocent contractors working on the Death Star when the rebels blew it up?’, ie. It’s a serious question couched in a little hyperbole.

      I don’t really expect the Clone Wars to delve into the metaphysical and philosophical implications of destroying lots of artificially intelligent droids, but watching the show did raise this question in me, resulting (eventually, and after lunchtime beers) in this post. I remember an early episode where Anakin hunts down R2D2, and it clearly shows the characters capable of caring about droids. Please don’t stop writing for the show because of my radical Rights-For-Droids splinter movement. 😉

    • I must admit to the hypocrisy of enjoying the various ways in which battle droids are carved up on this show, but…but this is just my organic prejudice coming into play! We have to repress our animal urges and fight for the moral freedoms of our metallic fellows!

      • Hey Brent, much kudos for the reply. As the poor bugger on the other end of the beer conversation which led to this, I can assure that it is a post in earnest.

        While I agree with your comment about no one mourning the storm troopers. They were never slain with a much gratuitous abandon as the droids are.

        An yes I must admit to much love for the light sabre and its capabilities amply demonstrated on those poor droids.

  3. Yes, I’m really a writer on Clone Wars. You’ll see a handful of my episodes in Season 4… and beyond. To say more would turn the Eye of Sauron upon me — oh wait, I’m mixing mythologies. 😉

    But animal urges, be damned! I will not stop writing for Clone Wars. Not until every last Separatist battle droid is reduced to a a steaming pile of scrap by characters of my creation.

    • You seem to be putting a significant hurdle in the way of my campaign to run for the Senate. I thought I had a minority issue all lined up to get me some bleeding-heart votes, but it’s not to be. 😦

  4. The hat will get you far — Filoni loves hats. But droid voting does not a democracy make. That’s like giving a voting machine the right to count the ballots how they choose. Scary…

    But if you’re looking to raise some rabble, here’s a thorny issue: Can a clone become a senator? Or do clones even get a vote?!

    • Well, I have followed the clones’ plight on the series, and I do see several narrative arcs discussing their struggle for recognition of their individuality. To be honest, though, the need to treat clones as full human beings never really occured to me, as I thought they already should be (except for the whole indentured slave thing). Actually, breeding humans for war instead of just making droids is way worse. Why is no one questioning that? Augh! Found a new wedge issue!

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