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cinematic universe only please: do organic sentient lifeforms consider droids to be sentient in the SWU?

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It almost seems as if it is decided on a case-by-case basis. I’d guess that almost the entire audience regards 3P0 and R2 (and now BB8) as sentient/people. But the humanoids in the films often display little or no concern if droids are maimed or destroyed in the series.

Are droids in the SWU beings, or mindless objects? This doesn’t seem to be addressed anywhere.

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I think they’re seen as slaves in a way. Also, I don’t think (most) droids feel pain, so being injured isn’t really an issue beyond maintenance and repair.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
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THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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I’ve always figured this has a lot to do with the model and/or function of the particular droid. A translator like C-3PO or an onboard mechanic like R2-D2 or BB-8 is going to be interacting a lot with sentient organics, so they’ve probably got much beefier AI to the point where they’re considered “people”. Other ones with more specialized functions like Gonk droids or Mouse droids probably don’t have nearly as much computing power, and thus don’t have that kind of self awareness.

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I know you said “cinematic universe only” but considering how the EU as early as 1977 interpreted R2 and 3PO’s role in the SW universe as more or less slaves I’d say it’s at least very heavily implied. It’s the kind of detail that’s not really necessary to put into in a movie, but there’s plenty of hints towards it. First off all Luke’s relationship to his droids is definitively treated as an exception. Han clearly doesn’t seem to care for droids, but Luke and Obi-Wan treat them with respect. Even the Rebels in general don’t really seem to care that much about them.
Even in TFA Finn seems quite shocked when Poe insists on going back to Jakku to pick up his droid. Rey seems to sympathize with droids, but she is basically just the new Luke so that makes sense, and it takes Finn some time to warm up to BB-8.
I guess the reason why it seems like pretty much everyone cares for droids is because all of the heroes usually does, and they’re of course the main focus of the films.
Treating droids like people nice seems to be SW’s go-to method to immediately establish that someone is a ‘good-guy’.

Original Trilogy Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
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According to the Force Awakens visual dictionary, droids working for the Resistance are freed of any servitude and treated as equals. Threepio, for instance, runs the Resistance’s spy network. This isn’t explicitly stated in the movie proper, but there’s nothing to indicate the droids are working off any indentured servitude. I liked that a lot.

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Droids are slaves and people only acknowledge the ‘humanity’ of slaves when they are forced to by the power of empathy or the law and often then only begrudgingly.
The Roman Empire lasted for centuries and mostly treated slaves as utility objects. Feudalism wasn’t much better.
Most people don’t care where their cheap clothes come from.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6Dp2OfIT_M

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I never worried about this, but to be fair, I treat my droids like crap.

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Maybe the Sequel Sequel Trilogy’ll deal with this topic, featuring a droid uprising against the peoples of the Newest Republic that’ll end with all droids and AIs being outlawed from the galaxy.

*cue Frank Herbert turning over in his grave*

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^ I was thinking the same thing

ZkinandBonez said:

Treating droids like people nice seems to be SW’s go-to method to immediately establish that someone is a ‘good-guy’.

I’ve noticed this before too. Seems like yet another undocumented but recycled device.

The unspoken presence of widespread slavery in the SWU always nagged at me (obviously hence this thread). I guess this is yet another detail of the SWU being analogous to our own ancient past, when heroes never used restrooms and some people were considered disposable objects.

#sarcasm

DavidMerrick said:

According to the Force Awakens visual dictionary, droids working for the Resistance are freed of any servitude and treated as equals.

I liked that a lot.

+1! I’d put that in my “what was good about TFA” thread if it was actually in the movie.

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A connected question about the SWU:
Do droids dream of electric sheep?

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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There must be a reason they’re not allowed in the Mos Eisely cantina. Maybe Wuher is just a dick?

We had not one, but two droids working as bounty hunters in ESB. Their clients must consider them sentient, or else why pay a droid to do your dirty work?

As for feeling pain, Artoo screams when he’s hurt. And then there’s the infamous droid torture scene in ROTJ.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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All this is fairly consistent with slave history though.

In America and other countries during and after slavery, there were places that agreed slaves or former slaves were people, and places that did not.

In Gladiator, Russell Crowe went from a high ranking military figure to an entertainment animal; droid bounty hunters might have gone in the opposite direction and “earned” their freedom. I always find it inconceivable how people kept track of who was a slave and who wasn’t back when just about anyone could end up in slavery - my point being that transitions sometimes happened and appearances might not be the best predictors of free or enslaved individuals in such a system.

Yeah R2 does scream a lot. But in the supposedly canon Clone Wars animated series, he gets taken apart while still conscious and doesn’t seem in discomfort.

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SilverWook said:

We had not one, but two droids working as bounty hunters in ESB. Their clients must consider them sentient, or else why pay a droid to do your dirty work?

Why would you need to consider something sentient to make it do your dirty work?
(I’m not necessarily disagreeing, but I thought that was a weird statement.)

I’m more intrigued by the Empire being willing to actually pay a droid money to kills someone. I guess they have their own assassin droids, but apparently IG-88 and 4LOM must have quite a reputation. (Is 4LOM Zuckuss’ property? Or is their entire backstory in the EU only?).
The again the Imperial didn’t seem to like bounty hunters in general, so it might have something to do with Vader. He is half-droid after all. And if you’re willing to retcon he’s had droid friends before.

As for IG-88’s non Imperial clients, I haven’t a clue. Come to think of it, why does a killing-machine need money in the first place?
I think I’m over-thinking this.

Dek Rollins said:

A connected question about the SWU:
Do droids dream of electric sheep?

Well R2 does sleep in ANH.

SilverWook said:
As for feeling pain, Artoo screams when he’s hurt. And then there’s the infamous droid torture scene in ROTJ.

R2 and 3PO, being the two droids we have to relate to the most, does have the most human-like qualities among the droids in the SWU. The same goes for him “screaming” in pain, it’s meant to make the audience worry about his safety by humanizing him, I doubt it has some big in-universe explanation.

This film analysis video brings up a lot of these subjects, including slavery, and greatly emphasizes their “human” qualities and its relation to the overall plot.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9KPXRcfeaw

Original Trilogy Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Beyond the OT Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Amazon link to my first novel; Dawn of the Karabu.

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I think R2’s screaming is more akin to him responding to the situation and less than actually feeling pain. Has someone ever slapped the back of your head softly with their cap, and you say: “oww”, despite not having felt pain. You were responding to the situation, not actually being hurt.

EDIT: The torture scene in ROTJ doesn’t make sense anyway, since the hot-plate doesn’t ever touch the droid’s feet.

Army of Darkness: The Medieval Deadit | The Terminator - Color Regrade | The Wrong Trousers - Audio Preservation
SONIC RACES THROUGH THE GREEN FIELDS.
THE SUN RACES THROUGH A BLUE SKY FILLED WITH WHITE CLOUDS.
THE WAYS OF HIS HEART ARE MUCH LIKE THE SUN. SONIC RUNS AND RESTS; THE SUN RISES AND SETS.
DON’T GIVE UP ON THE SUN. DON’T MAKE THE SUN LAUGH AT YOU.

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ZkinandBonez said:

SilverWook said:

We had not one, but two droids working as bounty hunters in ESB. Their clients must consider them sentient, or else why pay a droid to do your dirty work?

Why would you need to consider something sentient to make it do your dirty work?
(I’m not necessarily disagreeing, but I thought that was a weird statement.)

You don’t pay your computer to do it’s job. I don’t think IG-88 and 4-LOM are in it for the kicks. 😉

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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SilverWook said:

ZkinandBonez said:

SilverWook said:

We had not one, but two droids working as bounty hunters in ESB. Their clients must consider them sentient, or else why pay a droid to do your dirty work?

Why would you need to consider something sentient to make it do your dirty work?
(I’m not necessarily disagreeing, but I thought that was a weird statement.)

You don’t pay your computer to do it’s job. I don’t think IG-88 and 4-LOM are in it for the kicks. 😉

Fair point. I guess in the underworld they don’t care who, or what, you are as long as you get the job done.

Also I’m pretty sure all the bounty hunters in ESB was mostly just meant to look cool and intimidating in their few seconds of screen time.

Original Trilogy Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Beyond the OT Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Amazon link to my first novel; Dawn of the Karabu.

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Dek Rollins said:

EDIT: The torture scene in ROTJ doesn’t make sense anyway, since the hot-plate doesn’t ever touch the droid’s feet.

No but hot steam is funneled right into his poor sensitive feet sensors.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Stepping softly in a danger zone…

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doubleofive said:

SilverWook said:

There must be a reason they’re not allowed in the Mos Eisely cantina. Maybe Wuher is just a dick?

Could be that they take up space that could be used by someone who actually will buy something.

“We don’t serve their kind here” is a pretty blatant statement with some very obvious allusions to real-life.
I’m not saying I think your analysis is wrong though, but I’m pretty sure there’s more to it. The droid are more or less treated as the lowest working-class in society. The fact that their not technically people, but still have sentient qualities might be part of the reason many don’t like them.

Original Trilogy Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Beyond the OT Documentaries/Making-Ofs (YouTube, Vimeo, etc. finds)
Star Wars is Surrealism, not Science Fiction (essay)
Amazon link to my first novel; Dawn of the Karabu.

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Prequel-based reasoning so it may not fly here, but could some of the in-universe prejudice stem from the Clone Wars?

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joefavs said:

Prequel-based reasoning so it may not fly here, but could some of the in-universe prejudice stem from the Clone Wars?

There are plenty of helpful droids in the prequels though.

originaltrilogy.com Moderator

Where were you in '77?

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joefavs said:

Prequel-based reasoning so it may not fly here, but could some of the in-universe prejudice stem from the Clone Wars?

If we were retconning I’d like that as a reason. If used in conjunction with the general ignorance of people, it could make a plausible narrative.

SilverWook said:

There are plenty of helpful droids in the prequels though.

See above re: ignorance of people. Give them just the slightest excuse to justify a prejudice they already have…

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ZkinandBonez said:
Come to think of it, why does a killing-machine need money in the first place?

Why does a vending machine need money to give me a snickers?

If I had some gum, I’d chew a hole into the sun…