We know that, in the brave new world of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the First Order isn't using clones for their stormtroopers. Children are "taken from families they'll never know" and programmed into becoming
But that programming isn't absolute. Finn breaks it, apparently pretty damn easily.
So the question becomes, if every stormtrooper is a potential Finn, should we really applaud so enthusiastically every time one is shot, or impaled by a light saber? When a trooper is blasted 20 feet across the screen by a blaster, should the audience be laughing?
After all, these aren't clones bred to die anymore. They're brainwashed child soldiers, forced into this role by cruel overlords. And in theory, every one of them could break their programming, just as Finn did.
Oh, sure, maybe Finn is some special snowflake, and only he can break the programming, whether through the Force or family connections or contrived screenwriting. Maybe he just has better midi-chlorians.
But there's nothing on screen to tell us that. There's no reason given so far that, with the proper stimulus, more--most? all?--of the nuStormtroopers couldn't break away, just as Finn did. And shouldn't that be the first question that Leia and the other Resistance leaders asked--How did he break his conditioning? Could that happen again? Could we make that happen? Is this a way to cripple the First Order?
Hell, if I'm writing these movies, Finn's precedent provides a resolution, and at the climax of VIII or IX Rey and Luke use their Jedi mind tricks, and instead of humiliating stormtroopers or using them for cheap jokes, they free the stromtroopers from their programming, turning the tide in whatever battle they're facing, and that results in the Resistance winning. Of course, that's why I'm not allowed to write movies...
But neither the writers nor the audience seems willing to admit that, given Finn, maybe they should treat the rest of the stormtroopers with a little more respect than the clone cannon fodder we're used to. Aside from frying Max Von Sydow, these guys still can't hit the broad side of a barn. The good guys still use Jedi mind tricks to humiliate them (and doubtless lead to their executions for failing in their job). They're still used as comic relief, and the audience laps it up--"Ha ha he was running one direction then pew-pew he's blown in the opposite direction hahahaha"--instead of thinking, "Hey, why don't the good guys try to recruit him, instead of killing him? Or, since he's really an innocent victim of kidnapping and brainwashing, maybe they could just incapacitate him instead of killing him?"
It's plotting laziness (and moral laziness, to boot) to appropriate "children kidnapped and turned into soldiers by vicious leadership" as a metaphor and then to just continue with "kill 'em all" as your solution. Unless you think that all of child soldiers from Beasts of No Nation should have been slain, instead of freed and rehabilitated.
Yeah, I think too much about these things. So shoot me. And, yeah, it's probably way too much to expect from a JJ Abrams movie. But I think that, given Finn, it would behoove all of us, both behind the scenes and in the audience, to not be content to accept stormtroopers as faceless, valueless chum. And maybe we should be just the tiniest bit more reluctant to cheer and laugh when these kidnapped child soldiers are killed by the good guys and screenwriters who are too busty to worry about them.