C-3PO

[© 2018]

Explain Dominant Color Explain Auxiliary Color

The Yellow in this spiritual portrait represents C-3PO's dominant personality trait, his preference for facts over ideas. In Extraverts, the dominant trait is directed outwardly, and spiritual portraits use a long vertical line to represent this, because it is the side of their personality that is most evident. C-3PO demonstrates this trait in his lack of concern for principles, theories and the big picture, and his focus on details, day-to-day events and the concerns of the current moment.

The Red in this spiritual portrait represents C-3PO's auxiliary personality trait, his very strong preference for the emotional over the logical. In Extraverts, the auxiliary trait is directed inwardly, and spiritual portraits use a horizontal line to represent this. C-3PO demonstrates this trait when he quickly becomes emotional during stressful times, interfering with problem-solving activities by complaining and looking for someone to blame.

Humanoid Protocol Droid and Fluent Communicator

Do the droids in Star Wars have personalities, and is it possible to draw them?

As far as the Groja program© goes, the answer to ....

Show the Story Show the Meat Portrait

C-3PO:
The Story

Do the droids in Star Wars have personalities, and is it possible to draw them?

As far as the Groja program© goes, the answer to that question depends on the answers to these questions:

  1. Can the droid perceive facts, understand ideas, or both?
  2. Can the droid make decisions, using logic, emotions, or both?

Because the answer to both of these questions is Yes, then the answer to the original question is also positive. And so, having gone through the process of analyzing, drawing, and presenting C-3PO's portrait, the result appears above.

Three Fifths of a Person?

The droids on Star Wars may not be able to taste or smell, but they can certainly see and hear. And based on one poor power droid's screams while being tortured in the droid pool run by the sadistic EV-9D9, the sense of touch in at least some of them works as well.

Whether this makes these droids three fifths of a person is a question best left to philosophers. What matters here is, the droids have senses that can perceive — they can gather data as facts.

The Yellow in C-3PO's spiritual portrait represents this proclivity for sensing data. It's conceivable he might have programming enabling him to recognize some types of patterns — hence his image has a bit of Blue — but most of what C-3PO takes in is factual, not ideological.

Riding an Emotional Rollercoaster

C-3PO wears his heart on his sleeve and is constantly sharing his emotions. In just the first hour of Episode IV: A New Hope, C-3PO goes from misery, to bliss, then back to misery again.

Early in the film C-3PO is terrified as their ship is being boarded by Imperial Stormtroopers. He searches frantically for his counterpart R2-D2, and when he finally finds him, says:

At last! Where have you been? They're heading in this direction. What are we going to do? We'll be sent to the spice mines of Kessel! Smashed into who-knows-what! Wait a minute. Where are you going?
 — C-3PO, in A New Hope, 1977 (5:20).

Thanks to the cool-headed R2 unit, they jettison from the ship in an escape pod. On Tatooine, a band of Jawas pick up the two droids and Luke Skywalker soon purchases C-3PO and R2-D2 from them. When Luke takes them to their new home, C-3PO is ecstatic about getting an oil bath:

Thank the maker! This oil bath is going to feel soooo good!
 — C-3PO in A New Hope, 1977 (19:30). [Emphasis added.]

Before too long C-3PO is terrified again as he and his new friends escape from Tatooine while under fire from Imperial Stormtroopers:

Oh my! I've forgotten how much I hate space travel!
 — C-3PO in A New Hope, 1977 (55:35). [Emphasis added.]

It's Not a Bug, It's a Feature

This emotional rollercoaster ride is a result of the programming C-3PO has received as a protocol droid. The nature of his programming becomes clear in a scene in which his head is attached to a battle droid's body and he's expected to fight:

What's all this noise? A-a battle? Oh, there's been some terrible mistake! I'm programmed for etiquette, not destruction!
 — C-3PO in Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002. [Emphasis added.]

The Red in C-3PO's spiritual portrait represents his proclivity for feeling and expressing his emotions.

3CPO's personality — and his spiritual portrait — stand in stark contrast to the portrait of his cool, calm, and collected comrade R2-D2. Because most droids are presumably programmed to be logical, the spiritual portraits of most of them would certainly have more Green — and look more like the one of R2-D2 — and look less like this warm, Red image of C-3PO.

Communication Difficulties

The book Star Wars Psychology: The Dark Side of the Mind contains a chapter about the psychology of the droids on Star Wars. It observes that some people, such as Luke and Anakin Skywalker, treat the droids with respect, while others, such as Han Solo and Obi-Wan Kenobi, are rude to them.

C-3PO is skilled at communication, so everyone can understand him. Other droids, such as his counterpart R2-D2, speak only in machine language — bleeps, blurps, whistles, and raspberries.

The book notes how some people, such as Luke and Anakin, can understand this machine language. It speculates, quite reasonably, that the ability of people like Luke and Anakin to communicate with R2-D2 may correlate with their willingness to be kind to not just him but other droids as well.

While communication difficulties can certainly fuel prejudices, the negative attitude towards droids harbored by people like Han and Obi-Wan could also have a basis in fear. There are several phobias related to droids, notably technophobia – the fear of technology, robophobia – the fear of robots, and cyberphobia or logizomechanophobia – the fear of computers.

It's Our Lot

Some people may show droids kindness and respect, but who can know for sure if — much less how — they feel? Moreover, the brutal truth of the matter is, droids are second-class citizens at best, and slaves at worst.

Does that sound unpleasantly familiar? The phrase three-fifths of a person certainly has a nasty ring to it!

In a scene from the first ten minutes of A New Hope, C-3PO expresses his pragmatic take on his woeful social status as he and his counterpart R2-D2 leave an escape pod and venture out into the desert on Tatooine:

How did we get into this mess? I really don't know how. We seem to be made to suffer. It's our lot in life.
 — C-3PO, in A New Hope, 1977.

E-Person, E-Servant, or Just Plain Slave?

Will there come a day when droids need a group like PETA to stand up for them, or an Emancipation Proclimation to allow them to choose their own destiny — perhaps allowing them to choose between having to obey the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire?

Today those ideas seem unlikely, even silly — but as they like to say, history repeats itself.

Certainly it would be safest to just treat Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and all future AIs with respect, just in case. After all, kindness takes very little effort when it's habitual.


About This Portrait

This spiritual portrait is based on the first six Star Wars movies, both the original trilogy (1977-1980) and the prequel trilogy (1999-2005).

The book Star Wars Psychology: The Dark Side of the Mind, by Travis Langley and with a forward by Carrie Goldman, was also helpful in creating these portraits. This excellent book is a collection of immensely entertaining and enlightening essays and if you are a fan of Star Wars, I recommend it highly!