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Chopper, BB-8, and MORE! These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For!

Chopper, BB-8, and MORE! These ARE the Droids You’re Looking For!

Jay’s Galactic Espressions

jay and bb8

Me, with my Sphero BB-8 and Force For Change T-shirt

Robotics have enthralled the human psyche since the ancient Egyptians developed a steam-operated animatronic statue (1), so it’s really no wonder that the Star Wars saga has always been at the forefront of delighting our hearts and souls with its wide array of droids. From our first introduction to the comical and endearing duo of R2-D2 and C-3PO in 1977, to the absolutely loveable BB-8 in the 2015 release of The Force Awakens, we have undeniably been smitten by these amazing gizmos.

Why are we so enchanted by droids? What is it about them that draws our hearts and souls into their animatronic grasps? Obviously, there are also scary robots and destructive robots, but this piece will focus solely on the positive attachments we feel.

In the most recent podcast episode of Lattes With Leia (Droids, Please) Amy Ratcliffe and Dr. Andrea Letamendi go into the topic somewhat, so I won’t repeat much here, but I do have my own thoughts and reflections. I found some very interesting supplemental information as well! For example, did you know there is a whole research discipline devoted to robopsychology (2)?

My favorite robots/droids have been ones that somehow draw me in emotionally. Whether it be their unique personality, humor, wit or empathy, the way I directly relate to them is a unique experience, much in the way of how I might relate to other humans.

Let’s play word association: What are my favorite all-time non-Star Wars robots that immediately come to mind (in no particular order)?

Rosie, The Jetsons. Did you know that Rosie had a boyfriend? His name was Mack, and he was owned by Henry, the apartment superintendent.

jetsons-rosey-mack

Rosie, with her boyfriend, Mack, The Jetsons

Robot, Lost in Space (“danger, Will Robinson“)!

Twiki, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. “Beedee, beedee, beedee!

7-Zark-7, Battle of the Planets. Usually just called “Zark,” he was kind of a combination of Artoo and Threepio, and always kept the G-Force crew informed on the Pheonix.

robots-7-zark-7

Zark, Battle of the Planets

Marvin the Paranoid Android, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “Life?! Don’t talk to me about life!” Voiced by the late, great Alan Rickman, Chopper’s new friend AP-5 reminds me of him.

Sonny, I-Robot. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love him… “My father tried to teach me human emotions. They are…difficult.”

Sonny

Sonny, I, Robot

J.A.R.V.I.S, Iron Man. The most perfect friend, colleague, confidante and butler…perfect for the world’s most perfect genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist. Ever.

I know there are many, many more lurking in the corners of my memory banks. I would have included Transformers, but they are an alien race, not something built by humans, for humans. What are some of your favorites?

R2-D2 and C-3PO will always be near and dear to my heart (I even cosplayed as a female steampunk version of Threepio last year at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim), but their allure has long been the subject of many an essay. Today, the two droids that have my adoration are Chopper from Star Wars Rebels, and BB-8 from The Force Awakens.

troy and jay

Me, with fellow CWK Blogger, Troy Metzler, at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim

Aaron Harris and I recently discussed Chopper’s appeal on an episode of Rebels Reactions (show posting soon), in which we recapped the episode: “The Forgotten Droid.” One of the things I said, in an attempt to sum up my feelings about Chopper, was that I couldn’t really decide whether I felt like Chopper is like a little kid, a whiny teenager, or a curmudgeonly old man. What I’ve ultimately decided, is that he is ALL of those things, wrapped up together, which I why I think his appeal is so far-reaching, and so endearing. Aaron and I also discussed how incredibly skilled the writers and animators of Rebels are, because we can “see” the emotions on Chopper’s face, even though in reality, his “face” actually has no non-verbal capabilities. That’s the mark of a captivating robotic character: inspiring the audience to project human emotion and passion into a mechanical being. The fact that Chopper’s overall design reminds me of a cool little steampunk prodigy – for me anyway – gives him an extra edge!

The way Chopper “talks” is also easy to love: instead of a series of incomprehensible bleeps and bloops, you can almost understand what he’s saying, just from the few little familiar syllables of words here-and-there. Being able to understand his language is a prime reason why Chopper is so loveable.

chopper ap5

Chopper with his new friend, AP-5

Tricia Barr recently wrote for FANgirl Blog, in which she also dissected this episode of Rebels, and she also cited a piece from Smithsonian Magazine. In the reference, the piece discussed the spectrum of human attitudes about robotics, called the “uncanny valley,” which ranges from alluring, to creepy, to downright appalling.
BB-8 is another prime example of a robotic entity ingraining itself into our souls. I have not met anyone who doesn’t like BB-8 in some capacity. Everything about him invites you in. For example, his shape: being round and having almost entirely soft edges gives one the feeling of happiness and comfort. No sharp edges, nothing to be intimidating. The shape of a circle has also been long-associated with femininity and softness; I would argue that this alone is the reason that BB-8 should’ve had a feminine programming, but I don’t want to go off on a tangent, here!

artoo and beebee

Is orange the new blue…?

His orange coloring has an emotional effect as well. I have done a lot of research with color therapy throughout my experience as a teacher of fashion and interior design. I have come to understand that the color orange is not only in the “warm” color category, causing us to have “warm feelings,” but psychologically, orange is associated with joy, creativity, enthusiasm and confidence. Was this a conscious color choice by the designers of BB-8?

The special features on The Force Awakens Blu-Ray release has also given me some insight into why BB-8 is so irresistible. There was a lot of decision-making that went into the placement of BB-8’s visual orbs/sensors. Many attempts were made before the ultimate design of BB-8 went forward. To me, it makes a lot of sense. I’ve always been fascinated with all things psychologically related (as you may have noticed from reading my past blogs). It all has to do with the way our brains process how we see faces, and how those images are translated by our brains to our emotional state. We are programmed to be at ease emotionally and psychologically with faces that are symmetrical. In studies, even young infants have been shown to pay more attention to “pretty” arrangements of shapes – either faces or abstract shapes – than “ugly” ones.

What about those sounds BB-8 makes? For me, anyway, his little purrs and gyro-swishes are adorable. His beeps and chirps seem to be in a high range, but not so much so, that they are like nails on a chalk board. His sounds seem to have a balance of melodic harmony and simplicity, without any hint of discord whatsoever. Unless, of course, he’s distraught about something!

I have the Sphero BB-8, and I absolutely love him. I got him in November, 2015, as a VERY early Christmas present from my hubby. He knew how much I had fallen in love with the little droid, even before the release of the movie, and he gladly fed my fangirl appetite! My favorite feature, by far, has been the “Watch With Me” mode, in which BB-8 will react to everything happening in The Force Awakens while you watch it together. I had the most spectacular viewing experience with him last weekend, when my husband was out-of-state, and I needed a movie buddy! I think I smiled the entire time, talked to BB-8 in response to his reactions, laughed, and fell even more deeply in love with this little mechanical majesty!

mybb watching TFA

My Sphero BB-8, getting ready to watch The Force Awakens with me!!

So, who ranks among your favorite droids of Star Wars, or robots in general? I would love to know!

Contact me via:
email: jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com
Follow me on Twitter! I have two accounts: @JoyceKrebs, @KrebsKlass (my classroom account)
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Instagram: @KrebsKlass
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May the Force be with you, and remember…

Coffee With Kenobi

This IS the podcast you’re looking for!

References:

(1) Goldberg, Ken, and Tiffany Schlain. “Why Do People Love Robots? Find out in This Botscar-winning Robot Film Festival Short.” Robohub. 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 14 Apr. 2016.

(2) “Robopsychology.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 Apr. 2016.

Barr, Tricia. “A Few Thoughts on Last Week’s Star Wars Rebels: “The Forgotten Droid”” FANgirl Blog. 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 16 Apr. 2016.

Images:
mhthompson.com (Sonny)
Pics-about-space.com (Zark)
Smithsonianmag.com (Rosie and Mack)
starwars.com (Chopper and AP-5)
thechnobuffalo.com (BB-8 and R2-D2)

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10 Comments

  1. Melinda
    April 18, 2016 at 13:33 Reply

    What a fun read, Jay! 🙂

    I always have been a huge fan of R2D2 (the true hero of Episodes I through VI 🙂 ), and the combination of R2 and C3PO is unparalleled. 🙂 There’s something about BB-8 that I find so endearing that, like you, he has captured my heart. 🙂 In my mind’s eye, I even think of him as R2’s little brother. 😉

    The Force Awakens might have been about Rey (primarily, at least in my opinion), Finn and, to a certain extent, Kylo Ren, but it was BB-8 who stole the show. 😀

    By the way, your list of favorite robots is great. What memories! 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

    1. Jay Krebs
      April 19, 2016 at 14:53 Reply

      I really appreciate you taking the time to stop by and “chat” with me on my blogs each month – I really need to do a better job of returning the favor *hangs head…*!

      I just think there’s something special about BB-8! I like the “little brother” reference – perfect!! 🙂

      1. Melinda
        April 29, 2016 at 06:56 Reply

        There are only so many hours in each day — and so much to do before the suns sets. I know how a day can get away from a person. That being said, don’t give it another thought. Stop by whenever you can. 🙂

        When one thinks about it, R2 emerged a hero in “The Force Awakens” — for it was he who “woke” when the time was right to provide the Resistance the map the leaders needed to find Luke. 🙂 R2 and BB-8 working in tandem. Now that’s a formidable force! 🙂

  2. Pam Bruchwalski
    April 18, 2016 at 18:03 Reply

    Love this, Jay! There ARE a lot of robots/droids out there, SW and non-SW alike, that have captured our imaginations. My favorite BB-8 moments in TFA are when he is interacting with R2. BB-8 is clearly distraught at R2’s non-functioning state when they meet which he shows by nudging R2’s silent form. And then BB-8’s enthusiasm mirrors R2’s awakening later. Don’t tell ME droids don’t have feelings….

    …which reminds me of one droid I’ll add to your list: Bishop in Aliens. He comes to a nasty, messy demise, but he does it to help save Ripley and Newt from momma alien. His sacrifice is touching and very human.

    I love that you have Rosie from The Jetsons on here!

    And of course you’re right about Transformers being aliens, but I still have to use this as an excuse to mention Optimus Prime <3

    1. Jay Krebs
      April 19, 2016 at 14:57 Reply

      Optimus!!! *swoon*!
      …and, of course, you know VERY well my love of Bumblebee!! 🙂

      I totally agree with you about that “nudging” scene in TFA. It reminds me of a little kid, tugging on his grandpa’s pant leg! Droids DO have feelings – it’s part of their MO, their AI…whatever you want to call it…bottom line, they have mechanical souls…!!

      Aliens…! I’m SO embarrassed to say I’ve not seen the movie in a looooooooong time, and honestly can’t remember Bishop. I NEED to go back and watch it again sometime!!

  3. Erica
    April 18, 2016 at 20:21 Reply

    Droids are such a special part of Star Wars! I love seeing a blog dedicated just to them.

    Dave Filoni said once that if R2 is like the family dog–loyal to a fault–then Chopper is like the family cat. He will do what he wants when he wants and only IF he wants to. That so sums up Chopper’s character for me!

    I can’t wait to see your little BB8!
    Fun entry!!!
    Xoxox

    1. Jay Krebs
      April 19, 2016 at 15:00 Reply

      Dave is a mastermind, indeed!! I can understand where he’s coming from, but I still can’t wrap my head around Chopper being a “cat”…I’ve never been a cat person, so to make that comparison — for me, anyway — is a deal-breaker!! 😉

      I’m excited for you to meet my BB-8!! I KNOW you’ll love him as much as I do!!! 🙂

  4. Lisa Dullard
    April 19, 2016 at 06:53 Reply

    From Star Wars, I love BB-8 and Chopper. However, K-9 from Doctor Who is pretty special, too. Nothing more faithful than a robot dog!

    1. Jay Krebs
      April 19, 2016 at 15:02 Reply

      Teach me in the ways of the Dalek, you must!! Err…the Tardis…?! Dr. Who is one of those series in which I’ve been threatening to sumburge myself, but as of yet, sadly have not…! I’ll definitely take your word for it — especially as one dog lover to another!! 🙂

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