Rogue One Needs a Smartphone: A Star Wars Story

December 22, 2016
Ashley Rondeau

A short while ago, in an AMC not too far away, I took in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in order to spend less time with my parents during the holidays. It was ok. The movie, that is. Spending less time with my parents is always a great thing.
While I found the story lacking, the characters forgettable, and containing more plot holes than Death Star flaws (so at least two), I distinctly remember thinking, “why is their technology so primitive?” They have faster-than-light travel, near-perfect AI, laser swords (?), but all those futuristic (or ancient, rather, since “long long time ago”) technologies pale in comparison to what we use everyday: smartphones. Let’s examine the ways. (There may be spoilers, but who cares.)

1. Staying social

This keeps happening in Star Wars, doesn’t it? Luke and Leia don’t know where their parents are. Also Rey. And now Jyn. Why don’t they have any social networks? Heck, we’ve got like seventeen these days and we’re just one planet. You’re telling me people fly from planet to planet, meet thousands of species, almost die all the time, and they don’t post pictures to Yavinbook or Dagobahstagram? That’s harder to believe than a blind monk beating up Stormtroopers with a stick.
Why a smartphone is better: Look, I can’t escape my parents because they have iPhones now and they won’t let me block them. Families with lost members are finding each other all the time. If Luke had the app, we never would have needed the prequels. The entire galaxy’s multiple (and literal) daddy issues could have been solved with a few credits for premium app service. Maybe instead of inventing another [letter of the alphabet]-Fighter spaceship, they should get some kid going to the Harvard of Kashyyyk to invent MyHyperSpace.

2. Data encryption

So the main plot of Rogue One is to steal the Death Star plans and get them to the Rebellion. It turns out the plans are on a big hard drive in some overly designed server rack. Jyn and Cassian get their hands on it and (spoiler! …but this is how the original Star Wars movie starts so… it’s not?) they transmit the data to the rebel leaders. What’s wrong with this picture? Here’s a hint: even the dumb real Nazis in Earths WWII had the Enigma Machine that made it impossible to crack their encryption until Benedict Cumberbatch solved it. Why didn’t The Empire encrypt these sensitive plans for their superweapon?
Why a smartphone is better: The iPhone has awesome encryption built in. Since iOS 8, your data has been encrypted by default, so much so that the government (you know, our evil empire) can’t get into it. Krennic (the bad guy in Rogue One) should have put the plans on a smartphone and let the rebels try to hack it by brute Force. Never would have happened. So rest assured, your naughty pics have better protection on your phone than the plans for the freakin’ Death Star, people.

3. Data storage

Let’s get back to that big server room in Rogue One. Sure, us Earthlings have big server farms too, some over 1 million square feet which makes The Empire’s server room look like a broom closet. We have millions of terabytes to back up so we need all that space, but look at the “complexity” of the information that The Empire needs to store:
That’s the schematic for the Death Star, their most complicated and largest superweapon. Are you kidding me? That’s about 15 kilobytes at best. And yet, here’s the hard drive that it’s stored on:
Look at that thing. That’s definitely not an SSD. It’s a hard disk and there’s sand getting into it. That’s nonsense. And you need that much hardware to store what amount to a .gif in Death Star plans?
Why a smartphone is better: Obviously our smartphones of today can store far, far more data than The Empire can in whatever ancient storage mediums they’re using. Plus we have apps like Dropbox so we can transmit files easily without having to run them down a beach (even though this scene from the trailer is actually not in the movie. Reshoots!). And I don’t know how their “shields” block transmissions from going through, but I’m pretty sure a strong enough WiFi signal can punch through it. I mean, we beam data from satellites all the time through our planet’s electromagnetic field, but whatever. Deflector shields or some nonsense.

4. Protocol Droid

Look, I like C-3PO as much as the next guy (so, not much) and I exhaled through my nose slightly when it made a cameo in Rogue One, but is a Protocol Droid really that great? Sure it speaks over 6 million languages, but that’s come in handy maybe twice in 36 movies and all the major heroes and villains speak English anyway. Jabba didn’t, but Han understood him just fine. And did C-3PO ever help out in terms of customs or etiquette? No. He lied to Ewoks and pretended to be a god. James Cook did that to native Hawaiians and then, you know, warred with them and got killed. Not a great example.
Why a smartphone is better: Google Translate. It doesn’t have 6 million languages (yet) but it can handle enough to get you around Earth. Plus, it doesn’t get uppity with you and provide you with survival statistics you didn’t ask for like some oddly British droid does. There are plenty of global etiquette apps as well that will actually tell you what you should or shouldn’t do with foreign cultures, instead of you know, upsetting Wookies that can tear limbs off.
This Christmas, let’s be thankful that we all have access to much better technology than those poor unfortunate souls in the Star Wars universe. And also,  give thanks that we can look forward to a better movie when Episode VIII hits theaters in 2017. Happy holidays, and may the Force be whatever.

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