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The creepy truth about Stormtrooper helmets

Wouldn't it be great to live in the world of Star Wars? Oh, sure, you might have to deal with random incursions into the business of your home planet by the Galactic Empire (or the Sith, or the First Order, depending on which time period we're talking about here). You might run afoul of some rough and tumble characters at your local cantina, or you might be one of those characters, and end up getting your arm sliced off by an old man with a lightsaber.

All kinds of crazy things might happen in that world, but hey, crazy things happen in our real world, too. It'd mostly be a hoot — unless, of course, you end up working for the Empire. If you think your boss is always on your back or intrudes too heavily upon your privacy, just wait until you hear about the working conditions of your average Imperial Stormtrooper — and in particular, what really goes on inside those helmets.

Before we get into all of that, though, we should get this out of the way: not just anybody can fill out an application, undergo a background check, and put on that iconic white armor, all set for their first day of trying and failing to shoot rebel soldiers. In the early days of the Empire, Stormtroopers were recruited exclusively from the ranks of the clones being produced on the planet Kamino, an operation that was once overseen by the deadly mercenary Jango Fett (as seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones). 

This is why, in many of their cinematic appearances, Stormtroopers all sound the same, are all the same height, and are all left-handed. As time went on and the cloning operation was eventually shuttered, the Empire began to recruit Stormtroopers from its human population — but they had to be rigorously tested for absolute loyalty, and presumably also had to demonstrate that they couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with their standard-issue E-11 blaster rifle.

Once they were deemed completely compliant and loyal, however, Stormtroopers were trusted to carry out their orders and faithfully represent the Empire at all times. Ha! Actually, it was kind of the exact opposite of that.

You see, the boys in white were required to stay in uniform basically at all times, which served a purpose beyond keeping whether they were bald or not shrouded in mystery. In each Stormtrooper's helmet was a com device which broadcast everything that they said, all the time, to the Empire — where it was monitored and recorded.

Now, you may have a job that requires some of your communications to be similarly monitored, but these guys were getting eavesdropped on by the boss every minute of every day. This served two main purposes: cutting down on idle work chatter and ensuring they remained productive, and squelching potentially rebellious speech.

Now, to be sure, Stormtroopers' armor and helmets had some pretty sweet features as well. They were designed to dissipate energy (such as a bolt from a blaster), and the helmets provided filtered air and an awesome heads-up display, which compensated for their limited field of vision, but apparently did nothing to help them fire their blasters more accurately.

But if you were a Stormtrooper, not only did you have to wear the armor pretty much everywhere except the shower, but you had to watch what you were saying at all times — lest Big Darth Brother end up doling out punishment for idly discussing yesterday's big pod race on the job, or perhaps executing you for treason due to a few poorly-chosen words.

The fact that Stormtroopers' speech was constantly monitored raises an interesting certainty: there were millions of those guys, and somebody had to be doing all of the monitoring. Perhaps this was done by specially programmed droids, but we like to think that somewhere, on some planet, was what basically amounted to the biggest call center you've ever seen, with cubicles stretching as far as the eye can see. In each cubicle sat a loyal but underpaid minion of the Empire, grinding through the daily slog of poring over the audio records of whatever Stormtrooper they'd been assigned to.

In the break room, they would boast to their co-workers about how loyal and professional "their guy" was. They'd make excuses for his poor marksmanship, whispering under their breath that those heads-up displays were made by some shady manufacturer on the Outer Rim. And when "their guy" inevitably got blasted into oblivion or carved up by a Jedi Knight, they'd be allowed to take five and solemnly reflect on his sacrifice while listening to the Imperial March.

Come to think of it, the Stormtrooper Monitoring Center must have been one of the biggest employers in the galaxy. Heck, if you had picked three random people off the street in Coruscant, chances are that at least one of them worked there.

Maybe living in the world of Star Wars wouldn't be so awesome, after all.