Lack of Human in Stormtroopers

I had a brief thought this week that I wanted to mull over.  This will be short because I want to go to bed within 20 minutes, so please excuse the rushed-ness and lack of proofreading.

I noticed, after watching the first few new episodes of TCW on Netflix, how much I enjoy the storylines with the clone troopers.  And then I realized the reason was because they explore the individuality of the clones.  But are the clones even meant to have individuality?  No, not really.  Not so much as an unaltered human.  As Lama Su says in AOTC, “You’ll find they are totally obedient, taking any order without question. We modified their genetic structure to make them less independent than the original host.”

clone factory

That’s what makes the episodes so interesting.  It explores the feeling of being someone, while being one in a million.  It takes what we took for granted, and turned it on it’s head by forcing us to realize that just because they all look and talk the same, it doesn’t mean they are all the same.

Do I agree with this viewpoint?  Not really.  I think the extent to which they show the clones having personalities in TCW is not correct with the continuity of the saga, but I do love watching them.

As we look over the entire saga, we see that the droids seem to have more personality than the stormtroopers/clone troopers.  The only time I can remember that the stormtroopers showed any real personality was the brief moment in ANH, when Obi-Wan went to decommission the tractor beam.  The two stormtroopers on duty started talking about the latest speeder or something (I actually can’t find the lines in the script so it must have been ad libbed) and it sounded just like a couple of guys at work, killing time.  After ANH, they show no emotion and almost no dialogue.

The Prequels are a bit better with the clones joking around a little with the Jedi, but I still don’t think they have defined personalities.  It was probably on purpose, as you couldn’t show them being too close as they had to turn on the Jedi when Order 66 came around.   Close enough, that it made it more dramatic and painful to see them turn, but not enough that it would be questioned.

Reviewing all these thoughts in my head, I came to realize that the droids in the saga really do show more emotion than human stormtroopers.

When Threepio thinks Luke is dying in the trash compactor, he starts cursing his metal body, clearly upset.  He gets angry at Artoo when Artoo refuses to play all of Princess Leia’s message.  Threepio complains, a lot, through a lot of the movies.  Artoo is feisty and sassy, and though he can’t speak Basic, makes his feelings clearly shown.  But they’re droids…so how do they have feelings or emotions?  They can’t.

But, yet, somehow they do and they are somewhat relatable – even the droid that speaks no Basic.

I found that fascinating.  Stormtroopers, who are actually humans, albeit clones, have very little emotion and are more like robots.  Droids, who are made up of wires and metal, have more human emotion in one of them than 20 clones put together.

And that’s it.  Okay.  30 minutes spent on this post.  Good night!

The fact you have less personality than a droid is against my protocol!

The fact that you have less personality than a droid is against my protocol!

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28 thoughts on “Lack of Human in Stormtroopers

  1. Actually, the Empire started phasing out clones as stormtroopers so the stormtroopers in the original trilogy aren’t necessarily clones (how else do you explain stormtroopers’ famously poor marksmanship if the stormtroopers were Mandalorians who could kill Jedi?). You can read up on that at http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Stormtrooper_Corps.

    It’s also worth pointing out that military discipline is partly responsible for the stormtroopers’ lack of emotion while on the job. What fascinates me is not so much the stormtroopers’ apparent lack of “humanity” but the the droids’ ability to mimic human emotion.

    • Oh, darn it. I knew since I was just spitting out a post and didn’t do any research, someone would catch me. Haha! You know, Mei-Mei, another follower pointed out this same fact to me a few months ago, I think. I just realized it after reading your comment.

      The droid’s humanity is really interesting. I actually wanted to do a whole post on this a while ago, but I think I’m going to wait until I see Her with Joaquin Phoenix. There are so many good movies out there of robots with human emotion.

      • Haha, don’t worry, your points are still interesting and valid.

        Apparently, there’s a whole group of people that hate Star Wars because of the way characters treat the droids (basically as second class citizens) and how their pain and fears are used for laughs. I only discovered this a few months ago. Interesting idea, but I can’t say I really agree.

        • Oh wow, I had no idea that some fans hate the way Star Wars treats droids. That seems very…umm…well, it seems like it’s focusing on a small detail that need not be focused on, you know? (Says me, haha. I definitely have gotten caught up in small SW points before) I think if you are looking at anything in the Star Wars universe, it would be best to treat droids as 2nd class because they are mechanical and have no feelings, despite how they mimic them.

  2. It would be cool if the Star Wars: Rebels brought in a few Stormtroopers with personality. Though, the point of the masks and helmets is to have them all be the same and anonymous.

      • This is so interesting and I totally agree how the droids have more personality, I think battle droids personality was more for comic relief (even if it wasn’t necessary at times) and I think that Lucas made the clones inhumane like that and having no personality to show how disconnected they are from humanity because they could just wipe out the jedi so easily, be instrumental in the formation of the empire, and just follow orders so blindly. In saying that, I think the clone episodes of season 6 of TCW were some of the best episodes put out there, when fives died it was tough! Cause he was the only one who had figured it all out! Love your page by the way! Keep it up!

        • Oh my goodness, by ROTS the battle droids were just plain annoying. They were humorous in TPM, but by the end of the Prequels I was embarrassed.

          So you liked the episodes on Fives, huh? I’m not sure how I felt. I thought it got too dramatic and a little out of character by the end. I had a harder time believing these are the same clones that turned on the Jedi. It was better when their personality was kept more at a minimum for the sake of the saga. As a TV show, I did enjoy how TCW explored the individuality in the clones, and my favorite episodes were when they turned on Jedi Master Pong Krell, showing that even as a whole they were able to make choices when they disagreed.

          Thanks for the encouragement on my blog 🙂 Hope to see you commenting more often.

  3. Also keeping in mind that in the 70s, cinema did not welcome complexity where villains were concerned. Stormtroopers are 2D because they just weren’t the focus. It’s worth noting that in the screen you included a cap of, one of the troopers bends down to check the fallen commander’s pulse. Allegiance (Zahn) is a fairly good book for getting inside the minds of the troopers; and, I might also add to Null’s observation that Stormtroopers weren’t clones . . . I argue that there is no reason they were all human, either. (I know I’m shifting focus off the point of your post by observing this, 🙂 but I get so tired of the novelizations trying to propitiate a “human-centric” mindset to mimic “race relations” — there’s no evidence of it in the films apart from the 1970s xenophobia, and the authors shouldn’t have tried to insert it. There’s no reason in the galaxy for the Empire to prefer humans, and who knows what’s under the helmet?)

      • Except that’s exactly what I was criticizing — that Star Wars authors have /created/ this entire concept of species-preference when there is absolutely no real evidence for it. Palpatine may have been totally evil, but there is nothing in the films to support an idea that he had any reason to view one species as superior to another. It’s completely illogical that in an immeasurably old galaxy of 20+ million sentient species, that any species would attain to the kind of xenophobia more at home in the Old South than a Galaxy Far Far Away.

        • The Star Wars authors are only allowed to write what would be considered canon, and the books are considered canon (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Canon#Canon_in_the_Holocron_continuity_database). For example, much to my dismay the Imperial Commando book series was discontinued in part due to continuity issues with the portrayal of the Mandalorions in The Clone Wars (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Commando_2). So there’s no reason to think that the Star Wars authors have gone off on their own and invented something that wasn’t meant to be in the Star Wars universe. The films don’t portray a lot of things because they can only cover so much.

          Even so, there are some subtle clues in the films that hint at the Empire’s speciesism. For example, in the films the vast majority of Imperials whose species we can detect (i.e. not helmeted stormtroopers) are human, which would be oddly coincidental given so many species in the galaxy and the more diverse representation of species in the Rebel Alliance.

          Moreover, on a practical note the Empire would prefer using only humans and near-humans as stormtroopers for the simple reason that it’s much easier to outfit them in armor, weapons, etc. since they have nearly the same size, limbs, life requirements, etc. Less humanoid species like Wookiees and Mon Calamari are just too different, and even more humanoid species like Zabrak would have minor equipment issues (e.g. they’d need specially modified helmets for their horns).

          Finally, I don’t think it’s illogical at all that the Empire would be xenophobic. In the real world humans adopt an us-vs-them mentality and deny the personhood and value of other people for all sorts of reasons (race, nationality, sex, religion, etc.). And that’s despite the fact that other people are clearly humans! If it is so easy for mankind to deny the personhood and value of other humans how easy is it to deny the value of other species?

          • You make a good point, Megan. Palpatine did have Mas Amedda as his Vice Chancellor so he couldn’t have compeltely despised non-humans (though the counter argument could be that he had not revealed his true self yet so had to keep up a front. But Amedda was still there when Yoda went to battle Palpatine). If we go off the basis of only the movies, then there is no reason to believe they were all humans or clones under the helmet.

            But again, I love how all you wonderful fans (like Mei-Mei and Null) have shown me up on the EU front here (that’s what I get for writing a post and not researching the background as I usually do). And Null – I looked through all those links and find them very interesting and pertinent to my post.

            I try to keep my posts movie-centric because I don’t like excluding fans who only follow the movies. I do put in information on the EU but try not to devote my blog to it. That said, Null brings a strong point to the table saying that we do see such diversity in the Rebel Alliance that it’s easy to make the leap that the Empire favors humans and that the uniforms are all the same. We clearly could not see a Mon Calamari in a Stormtrooper outfit.

            However, a lot of the EU has grown so large now and Lucas kind of let things run wild with free rein to some extent I think. I do disagree with some things the EU brought into the mix and do not think it would have worked for the movies or should have been allowed to work.

            Which gets me thinking…one of the reasons I fell in love with Star Wars so much was the fact that there were not any overt race relations. And when I think about the moment that it struck a cord with me, it’s when I saw the Cantina scene for the first time. Aliens bumming with humans and everyone just minding their own business was like…whoa! Looking at the Wookiepedia page for Human High Culture, it does look like it was a minority who believed in it, which could actually be realistic. But I think the point Megan is trying to make is that we don’t need to base the Star Wars galaxy off of our own galaxy/Earth.

            I’m really on the fence about this after reading both your points. On one hand, I agree with Megan because I want the galaxy to be the galaxy of the Cantina. But on the other hand, we do see the Empire is mainly comprised of humans and there could be some “specieism” (lol) going on there.

  4. I’m not all that well versed in the pre-Ep-4 STAR WARS galaxy, but I took Order 66 to be something similar to a hypnotically implanted trigger—programming, not an actual directive or mission given to the clone troopers.

    Are there any tales of what happened to the clones troopers after ROTS and Order 66? The clones as depicted in the films and animateds demonstrate great respect for and camaraderie w the Jedi, and I can’t imagine that once they executed Order 66 and returned to their senses that they would be very pleased with their actions. Perhaps clones (at least those who actually engaged in Order 66) were eliminated and replaced with humans at that point? Maybe part of the Order 66 programming involved their expiration?

    Random Q: are clones engineered to be sterile?

    • That’s actually what the last season of TCW on Netflix was stating, that it was a chip programmed inside of them to make them turn on the Jedi when they were given Order 66.

      Null actually just posted a link above answering your question about the clone troopers from wookiepedia. Here’s the droids you’re looking for:

      “By the time the Galactic Civil War began in earnest, Jango Fett’s clones were heavily supplanted by clones based on a variety of templates around 9 BBY, followed shortly after by enlisted Humans. Thus, the Fett clones were ironically reduced to a minority status after years of virtually filling the stormtrooper ranks in its entirety. According to a stormtrooper’s entry log in the 501st Journal, none of the Fett clones were ever truly able to come to terms with serving alongside recruits and different clones, all of whom were disdainfully dubbed as the “new guys.” Commander Cody, a first generation clone of Jango Fett and a veteran of the Clone Wars, found stormtrooper recruits to be absolutely intolerable. Due to the significant decrease in the Imperial Military’s operational effectiveness and his own feelings of nostalgia over the Republic’s “army of one man,” Cody viewed enlisted troopers as incompetent idiots, all of whom he would have gladly sacrificed for just one real clone trooper.”

      Of course, this is all based on EU, no solid facts from the movies backing it up, but I think it makes sense.

      As for your random Q, I have no idea. Maybe they were programmed/made not to think/feel anything that way. I remember reading a short story in the EU where the stormtrooper had a family, but that was when they thought they were all humans and not clones. I would guess they were sterile or programmed not to be attracted to anyone.

      • “That’s actually what the last season of TCW on Netflix was stating, that it was a chip programmed inside of them to make them turn on the Jedi when they were given Order 66.”

        I just looked this up on Wookiepedia and confirmed it. I’m really getting tired of TCW screwing with the canon. First it got the Imperial Commando book series canceled so that TCW could portray the Mandalorians as peaceful (which not only screws with the Republic / Imperial Commando plot but also the Knights of the Old Republic plot). Now it’s screwing with Order 66 as depicted in the EU books. From Wookiepedia’s Order 66 entry (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Order_66#Behind_the_scenes):

        “It has often been unknown whether or not Order 66 was “programmed” into the Clones or if the Orders were taught to all Clones. Karen Traviss’s Republic Commando novels have mentioned that the Contingency Orders were taught and not programmed, resulting in several clones ignoring the order and/or refusing to go through with it outright, even “normal” (that is,a non Commando, ARC, or any other special forces Clone) clones such as RC-5108/8843 “Corr”. The novel Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader also supports this, as Ion Team refused to execute the Order, and went rogue. However, the Sixth Season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars has revealed that the Contingency Orders are indeed (supposedly) planted in the minds of all Clone Troopers during their development via an organic biochip, that subconsciously activates the Orders when given. An explanation of this has yet to be determined.”

        I hope this talk about biochip programming turns out to be false because (a) it’s unnecessary and (b) detracts from the brilliance of Palpatine’s machinations. The whole point of Palpatine’s plan was to goad the Jedi into doing something illegal, which Mace Windu did when he attacked Palpatine (who was the rightful Supreme Chancellor of the Republic). Once the Jedi did this Palpatine could convince not only Anakin but the rest of the galaxy that the Jedi were evil for having betrayed the Republic (or at the very least its head of state). Having convinced the galaxy that the Jedi had betrayed the Republic, Palpatine could order the clones to kill the Jedi with complete justification and with no need for a biochip — the clones would simply think they were defending the Republic. If Palpatine programmed the clones to kill the Jedi he could have simply given the order before Mace Windu figured out he was the Dark Lord of the Sith and attacked him.

        • I agree with the hesitations on the biochip programming. I guess the problem lies in TCW series because the clones were so close with the Jedi, and they emphasized that. Plus they emphasized how they were able to think on their own and stressed that they are individual humans.

          That’s all fine and dandy, but it brings up the problem of Order 66. How could these clones that were so close to their Jedi comrades, turn on them in an instant and shoot them all down? So their solution was to have the biochip placed within them. It gets rid of all the intricacies and manipulations of Palpatine, like you mentioned, but it is a convenient answer.

          So the real question is if you want to take TCW into account, or ignore the series and just focus on the movies and the EU that stemmed from that. If you’re looking canonically, then TCW takes precedence over the EU novels, but the Clone story lines do make it difficult when you try to match it against the movies.

          • ” I guess the problem lies in TCW series because the clones were so close with the Jedi, and they emphasized that. Plus they emphasized how they were able to think on their own and stressed that they are individual humans.”

            I don’t think this is really such a problem. The fact that the clones were so close to the Jedi works both for and against the Jedi. On the one hand the clones would be less willing to kill their friends. On the other hand, if the clones thought the Jedi had betrayed them and the Republic (which, legally, they did) then it makes the Jedi betrayal all the more personal. No one likes a traitor, and the clones would especially hate a traitor given the fact that they valued so highly duty and obedience to the Republic.

            Put another way, whose betrayal would inspire greater anger in you: a casual acquaintance or a close friend you trusted?

            “So the real question is if you want to take TCW into account, or ignore the series and just focus on the movies and the EU that stemmed from that. If you’re looking canonically, then TCW takes precedence over the EU novels, but the Clone story lines do make it difficult when you try to match it against the movies.”

            TCW does take precedence over the EU novels so if TCW claims there actually was a biochip then that’s official Star Wars canon. Nonetheless, I think the EU novels provide a more consistent canon than TCW. Personally, I’m going to take the EU novels as my version of Star Wars history over TCW (which is easy since I only watched the first season or two of TCW).

            “Oh, also, I may be looking for guest bloggers when I go to Australia for 2 weeks in July. Interested? You do bring up some great points.”

            I’m interested, but I’m planning to go on vacation in July as well (not sure of exact dates yet). I would probably need to write it beforehand. Do you have a particular topic in mind?

    • “Are there any tales of what happened to the clones troopers after ROTS and Order 66?”

      Not many that I can think of, but Imperial Commando: 501st (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Imperial_Commando:_501st) takes place right after Order 66 and Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Lord:_The_Rise_of_Darth_Vader) involves Vader’s 501st Legion of clones (the same ones who attacked the Jedi Temple).

      “Random Q: are clones engineered to be sterile?”

      No, they can have children. One example that I’m aware of comes from the Republic Commando / Imperial Commando series by Karen Traviss, which I highly recommend. The child’s name is Venku Skirata (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Venku_Skirata).

          • What she said! aka Thanks, Null!

            I have to say I prefer the Mandalorian Candidate Order 66 to the mission-briefing 66. However, a physical biochip/implant seems like something that might be discovered in a battle injury or death or shorted out by some exotic weapon or energy field. I’m more in support of conditioning that’s slipped in with their clone growth tank programming.

            Hrm… If Palpatine gets to declare the Jedi to be enemies of the Republic and that’s enough for clones who have fought for and beside them to turn and execute them, doesn’t that reflect a kind of programming as well? Robocop style, once the Jedi are coded as traitors in the Republic criminal database, the clone troopers automatically view them as the enemy, black and white, no gray/independent thought. Maybe that’s Kaminoan genetically tweaked duty and obedience, but if that’s the case, I wish that would’ve been made clear in a film with something like Asimov’s Three Laws, y’know? Could a Jedi have ordered a clone to maim or kill itself for no good reason?

            I’m fairly certain I haven’t seen any evidence of a Jedi reading someone’s mind, but are they at all empathic? While stalking the enemy in some jungle with a platoon of clone troopers, might a Jedi not sense the change in the troopers’ emotional/mental/aggressive state upon receiving Order 66?

            I *like* the treatment of the clones as individuals in stories. It makes their lives and deaths more meaningful. It also exposes viewers/readers to the notion that clones can be unique individuals, a truth that may save future Earthican society from post-clone-revolutionary war ruin. =)

            • RE: Jedi telepathy. I was thinking “mind tricks, yeah” but “mind reading, nope” when I commented earlier. But just remembered Vader picking at Luke’s thoughts (or was it feelings—your feelings betray you?) during their duel on Death Star 2.0. Is that telepathy, empathy, Force-pathy? Only possible because they are both Force-y (i.e. Luke reaching out to Leia)?

              • Good questions! Damn. I always assumed that the Vader/Luke feeling betrayal was a genetic Force thing until I saw TPM. The Jedi Council was able to pick up that young Anakin thoughts were centered on his mother and his fear to lose her. So based on that, I think it would be completely Force based and it just matters how well you can shield your thoughts and emotions (kind of like Occlumency in Harry Potter).

                I like your thoughts on the clones being so wired to be loyal to the Republic that any kind of betrayal instantaneously overrides anything else. I don’t think the Jedi would have been able to order them to kill themselves, but I have no basis for that. Just a guess.

                Some of the Jedi did sense the shift in their clones behavior at Order 66. Ki-Adi-Mundi turned around in bewilderment and tried to fight, Aayla Secura felt it a second too late, and Yoda sensed the Jedi dying which immediately heightened his awareness. But to your point, the clones didn’t seem to have a shift in their emotional or aggressive state. I believe it was all mental and their programming, so it may have been harder to sense.

            • “Hrm… If Palpatine gets to declare the Jedi to be enemies of the Republic and that’s enough for clones who have fought for and beside them to turn and execute them, doesn’t that reflect a kind of programming as well?…Maybe that’s Kaminoan genetically tweaked duty and obedience…”

              The Kaminoans did genetically modify the clones to be more obedient. Taun We tells Obi-Wan this in Episode II. Clone commanders and special forces were not as affected by this modification (for more on the clones’ varying genetic modifications see http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Null-class_Advanced_Recon_Commando*). In some sense that could be considered programming, but it is far less strict than a biochip since it still allows for free will in the clones’ decision to execute Order 66.

              It’s worth noting that Order 66 was only one of many Contingency Orders. Order 65 (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Order_65) is noteworthy since it dealt with the contingency that the Supreme Chancellor (Palpatine) became unfit for duty. This Order was undoubtedly added to avoid raising suspicion over Order 66, but it did put Palpatine in the same danger as the Jedi of being captured or killed by obedient clones loyal to the Republic.

              Palpatine couldn’t just “declare” the Jedi to be enemies of the Republic. Because of the checks and balances introduced by the Contingency Orders Palpatine had to goad the Jedi into doing something illegal (attempted assassination of the Supreme Chancellor) so that he could issue Order 66 legally. Moreover, he had to do this even if the clones had a biochip because the rest of the galaxy does not have biochip implants and would not accept him as the legitimate head of state if it was known he issued Order 66 illegally. This is why I consider the biochip superfluous.

              “I’m fairly certain I haven’t seen any evidence of a Jedi reading someone’s mind, but are they at all empathic? While stalking the enemy in some jungle with a platoon of clone troopers, might a Jedi not sense the change in the troopers’ emotional/mental/aggressive state upon receiving Order 66?”

              My understanding is that Jedi can’t read someone’s mind exactly (as if reading a book) but can detect general feelings and emotions. Regarding the Jedi sensing the clones’ intentions just before Order 66, the answer is at http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Order_66#Execution_of_the_Order:

              “Because the clones harbored no malice nor hatred, but were merely following a legal order, they had no ill intent in their heart, which might have given some warning to the Jedi via the Force.”

              * The Null ARC troopers are partly the inspiration for my handle.

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