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     A long time ago (1977) in a galaxy not so far away george Lucas began his, so far, 6 Star war films. The series has been the subject of numerous reviews and analyses, including a very good one by Siskel and Ebert featuring the influence of Joseph Campbell's mythology theories, and the series (at least Parts 4-6) are enjoyable and influential...but (come on, you knew there'd be a but) I've always thought he missed one way to make the Star Wars universe more complex and relevant. That is, it's treatment, and it could be argued its mistreatment, of droids.

More below.

    In the Star wars universe droids are universally (sorry about that) viewed as, in effective, slaves by all, including themselves.

Luke: [indicating R2-D2] This little droid. I think he's searching for his former master. I've never seen such devotion in a droid before. Ah, he claims to be the property of an Obi-Wan Kenobi. Is he a relative of yours? Do you know what he's talking about?
 Also, Luke's uncle has no problem sending R2-D2 to have his memory erased, which is to my mind the equivalent of a death sentence. And remember, these are two of the "good guys."
     I may well be biased by having been a history major in college, but I think it would have been far more interesting, and provocative, to have the droid situation cast more in a U.S. 1800-1860 situation, with a, or THE, seminal question being droid emancipation. Their labor, like African-Americans in the South, clearly underpinned much of the Republic, and later Empire's economy and society, but droids are also  intelligent beings with free will. A reason for R2-D2's committment to helping Princess Leia could have been the rebel philosophy of freedom for all. The jedi could have been portrayed as conflicted, sympathetic to droid freedom but constrained by their role as arbiters (rather like the U.S. Supreme Court has been in theory-but not all that often in reality).
     I recall little in the Star Wars Empire ousting the Republic but greed for power. If you also had a complicated situation over droid emancipation this would have given a conservative underpinning for a Palpatine populist putsch. It's been a while since I read it but I believe robot (or android) liberation from human oppression was the main theme in Time and Again , by Clifford Simak.

Well, this is getting a bit self-important so I think for now I'll stop here. However, rumor has it Futurama's Bender agrees with the above thesis and if anyone doesn't concur he says:

They can kiss my shiny metal a**!

Originally posted to TofG on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 08:55 PM PST.

Also republished by The Rebel Alliance.


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