R2-D2

[© 2018]

Explain Dominant Color Explain Auxiliary Color

The Green in this spiritual portrait represents R2-D2's dominant personality trait, his very strong preference for the logical over the emotional. In Introverts, the dominant trait is directed inwardly, and spiritual portraits use a long horizontal line to represent this. R2-D2 demonstrates this trait in his ability to keep cool and solve problems even when under severe pressure, such as when he stops the trash compactor in Star Wars, A New Hope, saving Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca from being crushed.

The Yellow in this spiritual portrait represents R2-D2's auxiliary personality trait, his very strong preference for facts over ideas. In Introverts, the auxiliary trait is directed outwardly, and spiritual portraits use a vertical line to represent this, because it is more evident than the dominant function. R2-D2 demonstrates this trait in his total lack of concern for principles, theories and the big picture, and his complete focus on details, day-to-day events and the concerns of the current moment.

Small Astromech Droid

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

R2-D2:
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 R2-D2'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 R2-D2'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 R2-D2 takes in is factual, not ideological.

Keep Calm and Trust R2-D2

R2-D2 shows his mettle in a race-against-the-clock scene in Episode IV: A New Hope. When Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca go to rescue Princess Leia aboard an Imperial Cruiser, they end up being slowly crushed in garbage compactor 3263287.

Everyone else — even his counterpart C-3PO — panics, but R2-D2 calmly saves the day by disabling all of the compactors on that level. While R2-D2 occassionally expresses beeps and whistles that may betray emotion, he proves in this scene he can keep cool and solve problems under pressure.

The Green in R2-D2's spiritual portrait represents his ability to keep calm and his proclivity to use logic and his specialized abilities to solve problems, while ignoring any emotions he might feel.

R2-D2's personality — and his spiritual portrait — stand in stark contrast to the portrait of his emotional-roller-coaster-riding comrade C-3PO. 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 this one of R2-D2 — and look less like the warm, Red image of the emotional 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.

R2-D2 speaks only in machine language — bleeps, blurps, whistles, and raspberries. For communication with most humans, R2-D2 is dependent on a protocol droid like his counterpart C-3PO, whose specialty is communication.

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 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!