The color pink has far too many gendered connotations for this not to be a potential issue in the upcoming movie. The pink droid can exist, but the color should mean nothing to the film’s universe. Depending, of course, on how the society in the Star Wars universe relates to the color pink. However, if the pink droid becomes a punch line, love interest, or otherwise acts outside of the Star Wars‘ s
ociety structure, it becomes a token. A token that is a product of our society, not Star Wars‘. It would be like Princess Leia appearing in a pink dress and doing nothing more than playing hard to get with Han Solo. No leading armies or organizing a rebellion against her own son.
That in mind, a pink R2-D2, formally known as R2-KT, is not new to the Star Wars franchise. The droid appeared in Clone Wars three times before making it to The Force Awakens. If you’re like me, you didn’t notice it either. KT doesn’t play much of a part, only appearing in the very background of the moment Finn and Poe reunite. Missed it again? Don’t worry, KT is such a blur in the background they might very well be red and not pink. As for Clone Wars, KT is no different than any other R2 unit, only specialized in different types of field maintenance.
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These appearances are thus far are perfectly fine; they do not make the R2-KT a token from our society. However, it is said in an unconfirmed report that KT will be voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the upcoming Han Solo film. Fully voiced is certainly a change from the usual extremely background character that KT normally is. Thus, I am deeply worried that a token is exactly what this pink droid will become.
However, pink might not be the only problem. “Female” droids have made their appearances in Clone Wars as well, with extremely feminine features as we Americans would consider them. Giving a robot boobs and an ass does not make it any more “female” than the color pink does. Physical attributes and types of performance are feminine only because our society has made them so. K-Pop stars are a fantastic example of this. Many of these men are regarded to be at the height of their masculinity, yet they dress in what we would consider in America, to be very feminine clothing and make-up. Robots, however, are still inherently genderless, regardless of what gender we project onto them.
Token female droids are not good for any movie, especially one that’s a part of the Star Wars franchise. This film series is primarily focused on a narrative of the hero’s journey, rather than that of female-performing droids. There should be no room for the hero to be confused by a couple of different colored droids flirting in a corner. Unless, of course, the hero themselves is experiencing gender dysphoria. But who are we kidding, that’s not going to happen until the entire Star Wars franchise and all its fans are dead. Whether the droids are pink, or have the curves of a goddess, let’s keep them making sense inside the Star Wars canon universe by not forcing them into roles that come from the outside.