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Clone Cadets

September 30, 2010

“[The clones are] living beings, not objects.” — Shaak Ti

“You Jedi show too much compassion.” — Lama Su

Season 3 of The Clone Wars curiously opens with an episode set prior to Season 1’s Rookies. That episode was a glimpse at life as a clone stationed in one of the galaxy’s backwaters; Clone Cadets takes us in a different direction, to Kamino to witness the training regime of young clones waiting to enter battle.

The story itself seems to be fairly stock-standard, but, as with even the weakest episodes in the series, there’s always something interesting bubbling under the surface. Here we see the dilemma faced when a Jedi is in charge of training made-to-order humans for use in a war with no winners. If life is sacred, what to make of a factory that treats people as product? And what of those products deemed to be defective?

Shaak Ti and Lama Su discuss the quality of the clones

Kamino, home of the cloners, is an interesting planet in itself. It is an exercise in contradiction: water, the symbol of life, covers the planet’s surface, perpetually stirred by violent storms; standing above the water’s surface are sleek, metallic structures whose interiors are sterile and antiseptic.

We can approach this imagery a number of ways. Firstly, the design of the interiors is intended to recall the monochromatic plastic sheen of the Empire’s stormtroopers in episodes IV-VI of the original saga. Secondly, as already mentioned, water is life, and yet here we have life being created in an environment built in defiance of the natural elements—it’s quite fitting that life as a commodity is produced on a planet where nature has been shut-off completely from society.

99, one the clones deemed to be "defective", lives a life of menial servitude

Finally, we can take the symbolism that little bit further and consider water as the symbol of the unconscious; Tipoca City (the capital of Kamino) is then the ego. The water is dark, wild, untamed; the city is pristine, controlled and (most important of all) self-illuminating.

In reality, these three takes all relate back to the same thing. The Empire, as partly represented by the stormtroopers, is the enemy of life and nature—it is brute-force rationality, opposed to that which is intuitive and buried beneath the surface of consciousness. Hence the Death Star, the destruction of Alderaan, the slaughtering of the Jedi and the perversion of the Force by the Sith, turning it from being in-tune with nature via the unconscious to a tool of the ego for self-aggtandisement.

And yet here are the Jedi acting in service of this corrupt philosophy. Shaaki Ti argues in favour of treating clones with dignity and respect, but Lama Su’s retort reflects perfectly what the underlying attitude of this entire process is: a contempt for nature as nature, life as life. It doesn’t really matter if the Jedi consider the clones to be living beings worthy of respect; as soon as they signed-on to use people as property and slaves—as soon as they implicitly gave the nod to breeding humans for war—they acknowledged that, in some cases, living beings were objects, and any compassion shown was more to reassure their own guilty consciences than for the benefit of men bred to die.

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One comment

  1. […] This character becomes uneasy with treating living things like machinery. But Dion Detterer, who writes an excellent blog about the philosophical side of Star Wars, sees the hypocracy in this: It doesn’t really matter […]



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