If you aren’t a Star Wars fan, I will start by filling you in. Star Wars: Clone Wars is an animated series currently beginning its third season on Cartoon Network (which otherwise airs a lot of strange and/or objectionable stuff, from what I can tell from their commercials).
SW:CW is not the same as the anime-style shorts (also called Clone Wars) that came out before Episode III. (I liked the shorts at first, but find them really flat after having enjoyed SW:CW so much for the past two seasons.) After beginning with the movie (also called Clone Wars), the series is now starting its third season. The series focuses on the war between the Republic and the Separatists, which would fall between Episode II and Episode III in the movies. It centers around Anakin Skywalker and his padawan learner, Ahsoka Tano, with major appearances by Obi-Wan Kenobi and other characters familiar from the movies. Each episode begins with some sort of theme or saying; they’ve actually been pretty thought-provoking at times.
The earlier anime shorts took their lead from the films. The dialogue was… well… not quite as bad as what Lucas writes. The clones were faceless, frequently blown to bits, nondescript background to the super-cool Jedi. (As a military veteran, I highly object to the characterization of the clones as mindless automatons who blindly obey the order to execute all of the Jedi towards the end of Episode III. Sure, the movies write it off as the clones’ programming or something, but I have too frequently heard accusations that military members are really just like that and would do absolutely anything, no matter how atrocious, if they were ordered to.) Like the movies, the shorts play better as silent movies, showcasing dramatic (and usually wordless) battle scenes. You never see the clones’ faces or any glimpse of personality aside from obedience to their commanders.
The current series is much, much different.
For starters, the clones have faces, names, and personalities. Anakin is actually an admirable character, talented, but not too overbearing, a bit temperamental and tactless, but not excessively; in the movies, he comes across as downright creepy (hello!? Senator Amidala, can you say, “stalker”?), not to mention whiny and egotistic jerk (and he’s even worse on the last two in the anime shorts).
Back to the clones. In the new series, you see a lot more of the clones’ personalities. They may all share DNA, but they are not all the same. Some people are disdainful of them, treating them as disposable because they’re “just clones,” but the Jedi don’t. Some notable pro-life points:
– In season one’s premier (“Ambush”), Yoda, stuck with a small group of clones against bad odds, asks them to take off their helmets so he can see their faces. The clones protest, saying there’s really no point: “We all wear the same face.” Yoda smiles and says that, no, they’re each very different. He points out each one’s weakness or overemphasis, gives a bit of advice, and the clones, much encouraged, go on to do great things.
Today’s headlines hold some of the same. Clones don’t count, we can make them in the lab, then kill them for research. Pope John Paul II, however, speaking on the issue of IVF, insisted that every human being, wanted or not, conceived normally or not, has a soul, given by God; each person is a unique individual and must be respected as such.
– In an early episode of season two (“Deserter”, I think), Captain Rex (a repeat clone character) meets a deserter who was the only survivor of a troop transport crash. The deserter married a local and became a farmer and father. The ongoing discussion between Rex and his brother was about duty and what they were created to do vs. what they wanted to do.
In the modern world, we have “savior siblings”, created to provide transfusions or stem cells or whatever for a sick older sibling. They will grow up knowing they were not conceived by love or for their own sake or even by accident (even though God knows no accidents)… but to be a parts factory to save their sibling. The farmer stood to state that he was not constrained by what some person created him for, but had dignity and a life of his own. Although Captain Rex chooses to continue to embrace his duty, he doesn’t turn in the deserter, either.
– The most incredible pro-life statement, however, came in the season three premiere. (WARNING: spoilers!) We see the clone cadets finishing their training. Domino Squad is doing particularly badly, and one of the bounty hunters in charge of their training suggests that they should be dumped with the 99’s in the clean-up department or even eliminated. As we see the clean-up from the training exercise, we meet a 99: hunchbacked, prematurely old, bald, half of his face unresponsive like a stroke victim. The 99’s don’t even have numbers like the other clones, much less names; they are a batch of clones that went so wrong, they were relegated to maintenance and clean-up… and disrespect. However, one 99 helps a cadet see his own strengths and individual worth, and even gives him a name: Heavy. Heavy goes on to lead his squad to a stellar performance on the exercise, after repeated failures. In thanks for 99’s inspiration, Heavy gives him his medal. Heavy is critical in an important battle (we see him in season two). Later, inspired by Heavy’s sacrifice and belief in him, 99 is key to turning the tide of a battle, and sacrifices himself in the defense of Camino (the clones’ home world), bringing ammunition to the more able-bodied clones.
How many have we aborted because they were less-than-perfect, even deformed? Something like 90% of babies diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are aborted, even though Downs can range from fairly mild to severe. China, India, and many of the countries of southeast Asia are aborting babies for the “deformity” of being female, in the tens of millions.
Like the 99’s, those aborted children may not have had success as some people would categorize it. But what would they have contributed? Who would they have inspired or changed, causing a ripple of effect? Andrea Bocceli’s mother was told to abort him because he’d be disabled. Madeline L’Engle’s mother was told to abort her, because the pregnancy was risky and she was unlikely to survive to term. And Tim Tebow, and how many others who live less noticeable, less incredible, but no less important, lives?
But they’re the fortunate ones, the ones whose mothers said, “No,” to the abortion. The sad thing is, we don’t even know who and what we’ve lost.
Yes, my kids watch Clone Wars. Yes, it is about battles and explosions, but it covers so much more. And I would rather they be admiring characters who show honor, respect, dedication, and courage (and a number of decidedly pro-life storylines) than, oh, say, SpongeBob or Hannah Montana.