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In preparing myself for this blog entry, my mind has been taking so many different directions concerning clones, clone psychology, and human nature in general. I have always been fascinated by the idea of cloning, as it exists naturally in multiple births, in our own scientific world (Dolly the Sheep being the most famous example), and as a factor in our beloved Star Wars saga.

Consider a quote I found from the website AnimalResearch.Info: “…clones are all around us and are fundamentally no different to other organisms. A clone has the same DNA sequence as its parent and so they are genetically identical.”

Genetically identical. What about morally, mentally and emotionally identical? This is where the question of nature vs nurture begs to be asked, and how much does “genetically identical” actually influence WHO a person REALLY is?

Some of my favorite characters in Star Wars are clones. All of the clones. Some clones more specifically than others. Why do I pick out certain clones to like more than others? Aren’t they all the same? What should it matter? Just like droids: there are thousands of R2 Units. They are all “genetically identical” (of course referring to their assembly). Why is R2D2 so special? As a general rule, clones seem to hate droids. Clones cannot stand to be compared to droids, but if we’re just considering “how they’re put together,” is there really any difference between these two groups? In trying to answer these questions, my mind always seems to follow certain conclusions:

No matter how much we may be “identical” to another person, we all strive to assess our own individuality. It is a basic element of human nature, of personality, and of self-esteem. It can be argued that since the clones were “genetically altered,” they were less susceptible to the desire to be an individual. They were designed to be of a “hive mind,” if you will, bowing to the needs and desires of their superiors. I don’t buy into this 100%, just as the clones themselves, in some cases, didn’t buy into it 100%.

Clones are different from droids because they are HUMAN. To be human means to be so much more than any “programming” can possibly influence, no matter how hard one tries to manipulate it.

There are so many examples of this in both the EU and in the Clone Wars series. I was obsessed with the Clone Commando series of books focusing on Omega Squad by Karen Traviss. I’m not even joking when I say obsessed. My mind went over the stories again and again, and in the midst of reading the books, I would seriously dream about the Commandos and their adventures. My mind worked overtime trying to sort out the human element versus the call of duty. The emotions versus the “mechanics.” I would love to re-read the series again, but part of me is still so haunted by the dreams I had, that I actually hold myself back! Maybe one day I will revisit – and relive – those stories.

So, not surprisingly, most of my favorite Clone Wars Series arcs have to do with clones. One example is “The Deserter,” Season 2, Episode 10. This episode deals with Cut Lawquane, a clone trooper who decided to leave the Republic Army after an attack on his squad left him as one of the only survivors. One of the things he said was “I chose to exercise my right not to kill.” What I also find to be very interesting is the fact that he chose to be a farmer. Many Mandalorians, Fett legacy included, were farmers. Nature or nurture?

Another thing that stuck with me from this episode was when Cut asked Rex his operating number. Rex replied “I have a name, just like you.” If Rex was SO dedicated to just being a clone and doing his Republic duty, why did he feel the need to so poignantly emphasize the fact that he had a name?

In many, many episodes of The Clone Wars we see clones with different haircuts, tattoos, names instead of numbers…why? Shouldn’t they just be content to do their duty and be a number?

The new episodes on Netflix (thank the Maker) also encompass the clone struggle for individuality. I won’t delve into them here for fear of spoilers, but let’s just say there’s lots to think about! It really makes me ponder my own individuality, my struggle to belong, to be needed, to find purpose in my life and my service to others.

There is so, SO much more I want to say, and I could go on for a very long time, but I’ll end here for now. Suffice it to say I am enthralled by this subject! I also have some thoughts about the long-term effects of cloning in Star Wars, from a social standpoint as well as a physical one. Back in the day, I wrote an entry on the Hyperspace blogs concerning this. Maybe I’ll revisit these thoughts in a future entry here.

As Weird Al Yankovic’s song suggests…I think I’m a clone now…

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas! If anyone has suggestions of a topic you would like me to cover, or if you have a question or comment, you can contact me at jayk@coffeewithkenobi.com
MTFBWY!

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27 Comments

  1. Erica
    March 18, 2014 at 16:37 Reply

    Great entry, Jay! Growing up, I was close to two cousins of mine for a while–a pair of identical twins. It was amazing how different–and how similar–they were.

    I don’t have too much to add, you covered the topic quite thoroughly, but what I love about SW (and sci-fi/fantasy in general) is how it takes issues we all struggle with–like what it means to be an individual–and explores them through characters like clones.

    Hmmm….

    I wonder if in our genetic make-up what we have is something like a menu of possibilities. Clones have the same menu, so to speak, but perhaps different experiences trigger different configurations, highlighting some traits while others remain dormant. The personalities might be different on the surface, but they’re all linked to the same basic building blocks– like your clone turned farmer. Does that make sense?

    Lovely, m’lady!

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 21, 2014 at 15:25 Reply

      It makes perfect sense, Erica, and I think you’re certainly on the right track with the idea of a “menu” of possibilities. Like you said, different things can act as “triggers.” Again, it’s the whole “nature vs nurture” thing. In the past, I’ve done some research into identical twins/multiples. I’ve looked at longitudinal studies of multiples who have been seperated at birth, lived in different circumstances, etc. It’s really amazing to see what has come out of those studies. Many multiples do tend to gravitate toward certain lifestyles, preferences, etc., but at the same time are unique people with unique personalities!
      Thanks so much for stopping by – and for your comments! 🙂

  2. pambruchwalski
    March 18, 2014 at 20:56 Reply

    Any blog entry that starts with a song title HAS to be awesome…

    Two questions stand out in this excellent entry, Jay. “What about morally, mentally and emotionally identical?” and “Shouldn’t they just be content to do their duty and be a number?” Hmmmmmmmm. Great questions…

    I truly wish I had the time right now to watch the entire Clone Wars series (soon, baby…soon). Being the emotional sap that I am, I think that, subconsciously, I may have made less of an effort to watch the Clone Wars series because part of me bought into the cloning hype. I wasn’t thinking about the issue as thoroughly and deeply as you have. I was thinking about the cookie cutter genetic material that created the clones and not the intrinsic humanity that each clone possesses. I like the way Erica put it, too…a genetic menu of who we might just…possibly…turn out to be., not who we actually are.

    You can’t just slap a cool tattoo on one clone, a kitschy hairdo on another, and a pair of Ray-Bans on a third and call them truly different. But give them the depth of emotions of three different human beings’ takes on a particular mound of genetic clay, and now you’re talking individuality.

    My spin? It’s like one of my favorite guilty pleasure TV shows: Chopped. All four contestants (then three, then two) start with the exact same ingredients, and they are tasked with creating wonderful, winning dishes. Would any of us call each chef’s creation the same? Absolutely not.

    Excellent. excellent thoughts, dear Jay. As always.

    sign me…amidalooine…

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 21, 2014 at 15:33 Reply

      Love, love, LOVE “Chopped!” You’re SO right in that comparison! To take that idea one step further, even in my own culinary classes, I can give 4 groups of students the EXACT SAME RECIPE, but more often than not, the final product will yield slightly – to very – different results! A lot of it depends on HOW the recipe is cooked, baked, etc., and the same is true of how WE are “baked,” so-to-speak!

      Nature vs nurture strikes again!

      I’m so glad I was able to draw out some new insights for you on a personal level. Another thing this discussion makes me think of is perception…You and I have talked about the whole idea of “perception” at great length, I know…inasmuch as the fact that people really do make judgements based on surface information, rather than dig deeper into the “why” or “who” a person is, or does what he/she does.

      Thanks so much for your comments – you’ve made me think even more on this as well!

      I’m going to post another general comment below about the movie “The Island,” which I know we both love…hopefully you get a chance to read it and see what you think!

      1. pambruchwalski
        March 21, 2014 at 16:29 Reply

        THE ISLAND!!!! YAY!!! You make me want to pull that out and watch it! Looking forward to your comment on that!!

        I’m glad you like the Chopped analogy. I was hoping you would!

        I have always “liked” the clones, albeit partially because of your love for them. I thought the stormtroopers were cool because they’re stormtroopers and all. But I think I AM starting to truly get it. I mean, why people do what they do is, as you well know, one of the things I think about most in this life. And the thought of what would make all of these men made from the same human DNA, do what THEY do is fascinating.

  3. Becca Benjamin
    March 18, 2014 at 21:46 Reply

    Awesome!
    Great ideas here and a lot to ponder. 🙂

    The Clones, quite an interesting lot indeed. Identical, yes, but just how far? Honestly, I’d have to say, they’re only the “same” by the “white” of their armor. What I mean is, each one has different personality and it shows, right down to the markings on their armor.

    Personally, I find their struggle to show individuality to be refreshing and intriguing. Each one has an opinion and it’s not always mutual between the “brothers”. May I also add, that I Love when they refer to themselves as brothers and NOT clones. It makes them seem more “human”, with a conscience and a soul.

    As the CW went on, we definitely got to see more of their “growth” as individuals, with their own trials and tribulations through the war. If they were created to just “fight” the war, then they wouldn’t have evolved to have their own ideals and views on typical, human issues/behaviors. Obviously, the Kaminoans missed a very important flaw in their creation. As Obi-wan once said about droids, “If droids could think, then there’d be none of us here, would there?”
    Hmmmmm……
    Meditate on this I will. 😉

    Funtastic Blog!
    I’ll revisit this tomorrow 😉

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 21, 2014 at 15:44 Reply

      I agree with everything you just said!
      The “white” of their armor – so true…
      I know when Star Wars began with the Stormtroopers, I never even considered the idea that there could be IDENTICAL people behind each set of armor. I just thought they were soldiers, wearing the required uniform of the Empire. Just because they all looked alike on the outside, didn’t mean they were the same underneath! I STILL feel this to be true of the clones… Differences exist between the clones, no matter whether you’re talking armor-deep OR skin-deep!

      Not to get off on another rant, but I think it’s also interesting that the Republic hired Mandalorian sergeants and generals to train the troops – at least I know they trained the Commandos. Why would the Republic want to ingrain the Mandalorian culture into the clones’ pyche? It could be argued that the Republic just hired the best for the job – and that was people like Skirata et al, but…hmmm…didn’t they think some of that culture would rub off, somehow allowing the clones to make an intrinsic connection to it?

      Great Obi-Wan quote! Like I told Pam, all this is making me think about the movie “The Island…” see below for more on that!

      Thanks so much for your thoughts!! 🙂

      I, too, love the fact that they refer to themselves as brothers. Their anthem is “Vode An” (I hope I spelled that right…I checked with my son who actually knows the song by heart!), completely spoken/sung in Mando’a, and it means “Brothers All”.

  4. Becca Benjamin
    March 20, 2014 at 22:17 Reply

    Finally! I’m back to ponder “Clones” with you my friend 🙂

    Come to think of it, what knowledge we have of clones, is still rather New. The Clone Wars movie came out in 2008 and the Clone Wars series aired in 2009. So all the info we have, has been compiled in a lump sum of 6 years. That’s really not a lot, especially seeing as we’ve had over 30 years of Star Wars.
    I guess what I’m saying is, there’s still a lot of unanswered questions.

    Personally, I do feel that as the CW progressed, so did the actual clones. They began to separate among the ranks, literally. Not all were so serious driven, senses of humor started to surface, and so did compassion.

    You mentioned “nurturing” and I immediately thought of Rex (I think it was Rex) and his connection with Ahsoka. As the wars carried on, his feelings for her grew. He definitely developed a soft spot for the padawan and a protectiveness for her as well. After all, if this was part of Jango’s DNA, he did father Boba….well, in a sense.

    Great entry, Jay 🙂 you definitely got my brain working overtime lol!

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 21, 2014 at 15:52 Reply

      Welcome back, my dear!

      I think there will ALWAYS be unanswered questions in our beloved saga, which is one reason we all love it, I think. It’s seriously a whole universe of unending possibilities!

      Great tie-in between Rex and Ahsoka’s relationship, and in pointing out the idea of Jango being a nurturing father. I wholeheartedly agree with that. I read a book – I think it was a Scholastic book (or maybe series) – that examined Boba’ s upbringing with Jango. It was obvious that although Jango was trying to prepare Boba for a hard life, he loved and nurtured him intensely. I think that intensity of brotherhood, loyalty and…yes…nurturing…came out in the clones’ personality as well.

      Glad I could challenge you! Thanks again for revisiting!! 😀

  5. Dan Z & Cory Clubb
    March 21, 2014 at 15:17 Reply

    I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the Order 66 Arc. Well done! The long term impact of Clones should be discussed in Rebels too. Much to discuss, we have!

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 21, 2014 at 15:55 Reply

      Oh, trust me…I took NOTES on the Order 66 Arc, no kidding! I want to discuss it more than you know, but for those who haven’t watched it yet, I don’t want to spoil it!!

      I really am looking forward to Rebels. I do hope they give some focus to the clones.

      Thanks for your comment!! Looking forward to those future discussions!

  6. Jay Krebs
    March 21, 2014 at 16:20 Reply

    As a general comment, I wanted to elude to the movie “The Island”. If you haven’t seen it, it stars Ewan McGregor (hmm…why does that name sound familiar?) and Scarlett Johansson. The premise of the movie, from IMDB:

    “A man goes on the run after he discovers that he is actually a “harvestable being”, and is being kept as a source of replacement parts, along with others, in a Utopian facility.”

    I’m trying not to give too much more of the movie away… the “harvestable being” meant here is a clone. They, too, have been given growth accelerator in order to be able to “harvest” body parts, organs, etc., or to serve as surrogate mothers for women who cannot bear their own children. The clones are all “implanted” with false memories, chosen from an array of different types of stories, so that they believe they have a history before “the contamination.” After the “harvest,” takes place, and the clone has fulfilled its purpose, he/she is discarded, a.k.a. killed…all the while the “makers” (the hosts for each clone) were told that the beings were nothing but intelligiable blobs made up of stem cells and such.

    I absolutely LOVE this movie, which should be no surprise after this blog entry. To me, there is so much ethically to question. Do the clones have souls? Why were they kept in the dark as to their true purpose? Why were the “makers” told what they were – would they have been opposed if they knew that their “harvestable being” was a person instead of a blob? What did the general public think about this whole industry?

    To me, this thought process transfers easily in many ways to the clones in Star Wars. The clones DID know from the beginning what their “purpose in life” was to be – they knew they were going to be soldiers to fight – and most likely die – for the Republic. They embraced this destiny…or so we are led to believe.

    Did our clones have souls? What is the deciding factor in being granted a soul?

    Why didn’t more Republic citizens oppose the Military Creation Act? Or did they, and we just never heard anything about it?

    DIdn’t the Jedi consider the long-term repercussions of having all these clones created? What if they won the war easily…what would they “do” with all those clones? Kill them? Allow them to be citizens? (On a side note, I think about all those “babies in jars,” and it makes me cringe sometimes).

    I always have a hard time trying to wrap my head around this whole cloning idea…

    Again, I could go on and on…I hope some of you have come back to this entry and found this addition – I would LOVE to hear your thoughts. If this is your first visit to this entry – WELCOME! I hope you’ve found some points to ponder!

    Thanks again, loyal fans, and as always…
    MTFBWY!

    1. pambruchwalski
      March 21, 2014 at 16:43 Reply

      Wow. So much to think about. I wonder why I wasn’t able to process the connection between the SW clones and The Island clones before? It’s a great comparison. Does the fact that the SW clones were mass produced for a single purpose mean anything different than it does in The Island where specific clones are produced? It really doesn’t. It’s ALL a matter of the creation of humans.

      I could go on and on about this, too, and it brings out a lot of deep issues to consider, that’s for sure. I have to think some more. Great comparison!

  7. Jeff McGee
    March 22, 2014 at 00:33 Reply

    Great blog, Jay, and you get extra cool points for the Weird Al reference.

    Regarding the clones having different personalities, I think the cooking analogy says it best. As good as the Kaminoans were at cloning, getting the EXACT recipe EXACTLY right every single time would be almost impossible given the complexity of the body, and the brain specifically.
    All it takes is one chemical mixed in a slightly different ratio to cause a change in personality from one clone to the next. That’s why ANY person is different from anyone else. At least that’s what I’ve always thought.

    On a semi-related note, did anyone have the same theory I did back in the early to mid-90s? That Obi-Wan was actually a clone, and his name stood for “Old Ben 1” since he was he first of Kenobi’s clones?

    My thinking cap is ready to come off, so I’ll sign off for now.

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 22, 2014 at 12:54 Reply

      Welcome, Jeff!
      I’ve always been a Weird Al fan! Parodies are so much fun – whether songs or even Robot Chicken Star Wars 🙂

      Yes, the Kaminoans were indeed experts at what they did, which is of course why they were so highly regarded. Chemists as well as biologists and geneticists! They really were artisans of the cloning industry.

      Interesting thought about Obi-Wan/Ben! I’ve never heard or thought of that before! Was he supposed to have a clone or was that something you came up with?

      Thanks so much for your input! 🙂

      1. Jeff M
        March 23, 2014 at 12:13 Reply

        The Old-Ben One clone theory was definitely NOT a Jeff original, I heard about it from a guy from California, apparently in his circle it was a fairly common theory, based on what little we knew (precisely NOTHING) about what The Clone Wars were back in 1995. My mind was blown when he told me. He was a drummer in one of my favorite bands and the first fellow Star Wars Fan Club member I’d ever met (that’s what happens when you grow up in a small town).

        1. Jay Krebs
          March 23, 2014 at 21:48 Reply

          Very cool – I must admit I’ve never heard this theory, although with that one line in ANH referring to The Clone Wars, I can definitely see how the wheels in one’s head could turn, and formulate interesting theories such as these!
          Thanks for the clarification!

  8. Joe Taylor
    March 22, 2014 at 09:04 Reply

    Great blog, Jay. Clones are cool!

    I think at the very beginning of the Clone Wars, at the end of Attack of the Clones, when we see them all lined up in formations, the clones WERE the same. It wasn’t until they experienced the War and the various battles that they began to develop their distinct personalities and they became individuals.

    I think it’s interesting how most of the Jedi thought of “their” clones as individuals, as well. I love the very first episode Ambush, particularly the part when Yoda and the three clones are sitting in a cave and Yoda has them remove their helmets. It was the first time we see that the clones are individuals, different hair styles, names, etc. Yoda tells them how they look through the Force and how they are individual presences.

    The complete opposite is Master Krell, who considered the clones as battle fodder and refused to consider them anything but clones, continuing to call them by their service numbers.

    Much to think about, Jay. Thanks for the entry.

    MTFBWY

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 22, 2014 at 12:59 Reply

      Wow, Joe…LOVE every thought here! You touched upon some of my favorite moments in the Clone Wars series as well!

      You’re so right about that very first episode when Yoda had the clones take off their helmets. I had forgotten about how that affected me as well – the faces behind the masks, and as much different as they were alike.

      My son was just re-watching the Krell arc last night as I was following up on some eariler replies here. Krell really was anti-humanistic toward the clones and WHO they were. He saw them as things, disposable and meaningless. He treated them even worse than some people treated droids, I think! It makes me wonder if there wasn’t another intrinsic reason he felt the need to hate the clones so much…?

      Glad you could stop by – thanks! 🙂

  9. Lisa
    March 23, 2014 at 23:10 Reply

    Excellent entry! I never saw The Island, but I did see Parts: The Clonus Horror (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078062/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1) when it was fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000. From the summaries, they’re essentially the same movie so… close enough, right? 😉 Clones are grown so their parts can be harvested as needed to ensure long lives for their more “human” counterparts. Scary thing is, I’m sure there’s a segment of our population that would be amenable to such an idea. *shudder*

    As far as the clones in Star Wars, I do believe in their humanity. No matter the circumstances of their creation, human beings will always strive to be ‘human.’ I always thought that was illustrated nicely in The Clone Wars.

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 24, 2014 at 13:20 Reply

      Hi, Lisa! Great to “see” you!

      I completely agree with you that no matter how a person is created, they are inherently human. And, yes – The Clone Wars does do a VERY nice job of illustrating that.

      I will have to check out that link! I’m sure the idea of human cloning has always appealed to our human psyche in some form or another, however disturbing it may be to some. As you pointed out, I’m sure there is a segment of our population that would be attracted to the idea of “harvesting” clones for longevity – sort of a “fountain of youth” idea, perhaps. I also shudder at that thought!

      I suppose some could argue that we do it all the time when we use organ donations from hosts, but at least the original “owner” of those organs was a willing donor!

      Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

  10. Troy Metzler
    March 25, 2014 at 22:20 Reply

    I loved that Clone Wars episode you mentioned. So many clones were individuals, even if cut from the same genetic cloth. I also liked the clone that worked in the kitchen that sacrificed himself proving he was still a soldier inside.

    1. Jay Krebs
      March 26, 2014 at 11:59 Reply

      Thanks, Troy!
      The other evening, I was re-watching some of the other Clone Wars episodes that focused on individual clones. The one with 99 (the “old” clone), and the one to which I think you were just referring – the episode with the Commando named Gregor who lost his memory and re-claimed his place as a soldier (“Missing in Action”). So touching.

      Those two episodes make me cry everytime – further proof of the humainty of the clones, their ability to touch something within us, and the AMAZING work of the Clone Wars crew to be able to bring out those emotions in us!!

      1. Troy Metzler
        March 26, 2014 at 14:45 Reply

        99, that’s the guy. Those were both great episodes.

  11. Melinda
    April 1, 2014 at 15:39 Reply

    Absolutely Awesome Blog!!! 🙂

    As silly as it may seem to say this, I never really thought about identical twins as being clones … mostly because I always see them as individuals — no matter how much alike they look. But when one gets down to the nuts and bolts, yes, indeed, they are clones. Genetically speaking. Tom has a pair of brothers who are twins, and as much as they look alike, they most definitely are individuals. 😉

    I always have been impressed with the fact that the clones in Star Wars strived to be individuals. They most definitely were not robots/droids. One factor that does disturb me, however, is that, given their relationship with the Jedi (especially those who had very close ties to some of the Jedi), they still followed Order 66. What I mean is the clones were “programmed” to … shall we say … be a certain way, but many of them veered away from their “programming”. Why, then, did they carry out Order 66 so blindly?

    I, too, loved the KT novels about the clones. 🙂 Good reading!

    Thank you so much for another thought-provoking, provocative blog! 🙂

  12. jaymo2yp
    April 1, 2014 at 19:06 Reply

    Yay, Melinda!
    I know how much it must take for you to type out a response, so I wholehertedly appreciate you making the effort to stop by!

    Have you watched the new Season 6 Clone Wars arc with Fives and Tups? I certainly won’t give anything away if you haven’t, but let’s just suffice it to say that the episodes do help to bring some clarity and explaination to Order 66.

    I, for one, am SO tickled that the producers, animators and creative people (thanks, Dave Filoni) decided to give personalities and individuality to the “men behind the masks” – think about how much “easier” it would have been for the animators to just keep drawing the same uniformed clone, over and over and over! Kind of like in the original Clone Wars series waaaaaay back in the day on Cartoon Network. Remember that one?

    It just goes to show that one again, Star Wars is more than skin deep – it’s what’s INSIDE that counts 😉

    1. Melinda
      April 5, 2014 at 18:03 Reply

      Tom and I have watched the first 3 episodes of Season 6. 🙂 Yes, there’s some explanation of Order 66, but still … I wonder why Cody and Rex, in particular, still carried out that direction. Both of them veered from their “programming” on more than one occasion, had close ties to their Jedi generals, and yet … I just found that very sad.

      (still typing one-handed. Not fun. 😉 At least I have my “Luke” bear to keep me company. Thank you so much! 😀 )

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