The sadness I felt with the passing of Kenny Baker the actor who plated R2-D2) took me by surprise. When celebrities die, I typically experience nostalgia and fond memories. But when we lost Kenny Baker I felt we lost even more. For me, R2-D2 died as well. So why was this so different?
The concept of robots has been with humanity for hundreds and hundreds of years. We have imagined and more recently actually built these human helpers. Some robots represent an approximation of our humanity as with C3PO from Star Wars or Data from Star Trek. Others look nothing like us such as the Roomba or HAL 9000. Despite their design and appearance, humans invariably attach to and project upon robots. I believe these semi-independent creations are representations of ourselves, and robots also allow us to work out our own humanity and explore what it means to be alive.
On the big screen, in story, and cartoon robots have represented all facets of humanity from murder as was the case with HAL 9000 to selfless sacrifice as was the case with Bishop from the movie Aliens. We see in these creations ourselves and attached to them as we would another person. R2-D2 was basically a trashcan robot that made beeping sounds. But somehow, Kenny Baker brought R2 to life exhibiting sarcasm, humor, and bravery.
Kenny Baker we will miss you but you will live on for eternity as our beloved R2-D2.
My Top 10 Robots
10. The Roomba
9. Optimus Prime
8. Robbie the Robot
7. Twiki (Buck Rogers)