Snitch phone

If you’re reading these chronologically, let me note here that I had to skip Bea Arthur’s marvelous turn as Ackmena, as she tends the bar and rebuffs the amorous petitions of the lovelorn, hole-in-the-head Krelman, before singing her frustrated patrons out of the bar when a curfew is announced. To find the next interface of note, we have to forward to when…

Han and Chewie arrive, only to find a Stormtrooper menacing Lumpy. Han knocks the blaster out of his hand, and when the Stormtrooper dives to retrieve it, he falls through the bannister of the tree house and to his death.

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Why aren’t these in any way affiiiiixxxxxxeeeeeeddddddd?

Han enters the home and wishes everyone a Happy Life Day. Then he bugs out.

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But I still have to return for the insane closing number. Hold me.

Then Saun Dann returns to the home just before a general alert comes over the family Imperial Issue Media Console.

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This is a General Alert. Calling Officer B4711. Officer B4711. We are unable to reach you on your comlink. Is there a problem. [sic] You are instructed to turn on your comlink immediately.

Dann tells the family he can handle it. He walks to the TV and pulls a card out of his wallet. He inserts it into the console, mashes a few buttons and turns his attention to the screen. After a moment of op-art static, General Alert person appears. He says, “We have two way communication, traitor Saun Dann. Is this a report about the missing trooper?”

Dann (like so many rebels) lies, saying the stormtrooper robbed the house and fled for the hills. GA says, “Very well, we’ll send out a search party.” Sean thanks him and the exchange is over. Sean hits a button, pulls his card out of the console, and returns it to his wallet.

Sadly I must bypass the plot questions about the body of the Stormtrooper that is still lying in the forest floor beneath them that will surely be found, or that GA will eventually not find B4711 in the forest and return demanding answers, or why everyone is acting like welp that’s fixed. For this blog is about interfaces.

Whether the card was meant as identification or payment, the interaction is pretty decent. Saun has no trouble fitting it in the slot, and apparently he has no trouble recalling the number to dial the Empire. The same guy in the message answers the call quickly. After the exchange, it’s quick to wrap up. Pull out card, and call is over. Seriously, that’s as short and simple as we could make it.

What was the card for?

If it was payment, we would expect some charges to appear during and after the fact, so let’s just presume it was an identification card for the Empire to track. Since the Empire is evil, they might hide or not provide feedback that the caller has been identified. So it’s not diegetically surprising to note that there’s none.

For all the interfaces that are utter crap in this show, this one actually passes muster. It tempts me to establish some sort of law—that the more mundane interfaces in a show will always be the more believable ones. I’ll think on that. It would need a name.

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If I was to add any improvement, it would be to not burden the citizen’s memory with remembering the general alert or how to act on it. What if you’d just caught the end of it? Rather than burdening memory, the Empire could add a crawl to the feed, that persistently repeats the call to action including contact information. Persuasively, it would be an annoyance that would cause citizens watching TV to really want B4711 to hurry up and turn his damn comlink on, or for someone to rat him out.

There are probably some fascist tactics for incentivizing either the Stormtrooper or a snitch’s compliance, but I’m not a fascist, so let’s not go there.

Instead let’s rejoice that there is but one more interface to review, and we can stop with the Star Wars Holiday Special.

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  1. Pingback: Report Card: The Star Wars Holiday Special | Sci-fi interfaces

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