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Human Cyborg Relations

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Screenshot: Setsuled

Who says the spirit of Star Wars is dead? Every day when I leave the Japanese junior high school where I work, the marching band practices themes from the Star Wars prequels—critics never taught people to hate them over here. To-day I heard one of their final rehearsals before their performance at the sports festival next week. They sounded really good.

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The love theme from Attack of the Clones is a really inspiring thing to hear while changing my shoes by the exit. It makes me feel like I’ve been doing extremely important work and now the results are all left up to fate.

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It also leaves me in the mood for Star Wars and lately I’ve been watching third season episodes of Clone Wars. This past week I watched “Evil Plans” and “Hunt for Ziro”, two episodes that really feel like George Lucas took a strong hand in them. Lucas liked to make references to old movies and old storytelling tropes while Dave Filoni seems to like to pepper quotes from the Star Wars films throughout his TV shows. I saw in an interview it was Lucas who decided to make Ziro the Hutt sound like Truman Capote so I bet he’s the one who made the heads of the five Hutt families look like classic film gangsters.

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I love the Twi-leks with the big Hutt heads.

“Evil Plans” feels especially Lucas. Anthony Daniels voices C3PO as he and R2D2 do some important last minute shopping for Padme (Catherine Taber). Modern writers generally have no idea how to write servants—political attitudes in the U.S. rarely conceive of the possibility of servants who aren’t constantly suffering or burning with thwarted ambition. The droids are a callback to a time—that is, the vast majority of human history and in many cultures to-day—where stories commonly featured servants who simply never imagined experiencing life as anything but servants. Dromio in Comedy of Errors, Sancho Panza in Don Quixote, and Tahei and Matashichi in The Hidden Fortress (the actual models for C3PO and R2D2) are just a few examples. This is a character type that’s almost entirely absent from American media now.

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“Evil Plans” finds the two droids on an errand to fetch fruit from the market for Padme’s important diplomatic reception dinner. Anakin (Matt Lanter) sternly gives the two instructions and off they go into the wilds of Coruscant.

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C3PO brags to R2 about his negotiating ability before demonstrating what are in fact phenomenally bad haggling skills. We laugh at his expense, and even at the usually reliable R2's, when the shorter droid foolishly delights in a spa treatment while, unbeknownst to him, 3PO is being tortured by Cad Bane (Corey Burton).

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Illustration for article titled Human Cyborg Relations
Screenshot: Setsuled

Cad Bane is a character I like a lot more now than I used to. He’s certainly more of an authentically Spaghetti Western character than anything on The Mandalorian. I do hope that show’s second season is better than its first.

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Lucas accomplishes two things by putting the droids in this servant role—it works as part of his general message about how technology is ultimately inferior to the human mind and it also helps establish a sense of a culture alien to most modern, first world cultures. These two things help make the story universal.

Clone Wars is available on Disney+.

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