Resisting Their Programming
Clones, Droids, and the Regulation of Life in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Interrogating the biopolitical logics governing life in the Star Wars universe, I use The Clone Wars (2008-2014; 2020) to consider how the franchise challenges the devaluation of some lives while simultaneously marking others as disposable.
The most explicit way The Clone Wars deals with questions of expendability is through the clones. Many clone-centric stories center on clones questioning their status as cannon fodder. Using the clones Cut Lawquane, 99, Gregor, and Fives, I argue that the show promotes the idea of resisting one’s biopolitical fate—but only within limited parameters. Some clones can rise above their status as replaceable bodies; others can’t. As only some clones are able to claim full rights to life, the show’s exploration of the ethical dilemmas of war becomes diluted by a continual devaluing of those lives that are hidden behind masks and designations rather than faces and names.
To that end, I also examine how droids serve as counterparts to the clones: in a narrative universe where droids are often given personalities, some droids are valued as “living” beings while others can be killed without remorse. Yet, it isn’t a droid’s proximity to a human appearance that determines their status; rather, like the clones, it is the degree to which they have clearly distinguishable “human” identities. Thus, not only do both clones and droids serve as expendable weapons, but they also end up in the same unending state of exception that only a select few can ever escape.
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