In the dark corner, wearing the white plastic:
When I was playing Gears of War, there was this guy on the squad who wore a mask. “Wow,” my brother said, “he looks cool!” But, cool-looking or not, I knew the real reason he wore a mask: He was going to bite the dust pretty soon, so the game designers didn’t see the point of designing a face for him. And, sure enough, guess what happened during one of the first cinematic sequences in the game.
Whether in a game, a movie, or a TV show, your expendability rating starts climbing pretty quickly as soon as you put on a mask. That is, unless you’re wearing black, like Darth Vader, Batman, or Snake Eyes.
You would think that any attire or armor donned by a crack military unit would serve two basic functions: protection and camouflage. Unfortunately, though, the camouflage properties of stormtrooper armor are quite limited anywhere other than Hoth, a modern art gallery, or a mayonnaise factory, and when attacked by three-foot teddy bears, their rigid armor suddenly becomes strangely susceptible to stone-age weapons.
But the strength of stormtroopers is also directly tied to their expendability: There are always more of them.
And in the red corner, wearing the red spandex:
According to NCAA lingo, getting “redshirted” means that you are a little less than important. For adventurers aboard the Enterprise, though, it means you should not get out of bed in the morning. Ever.
No, they do not wear masks, but one must remember that, in order to wear a mask, one must either be evil or wickedly good, like Batman, Snake Eyes, or the Dread Pirate Roberts. Remember that there are more factors that lend to expendability than just not having a recognizable face. If you all wear the same color, this may make you more expendable. If you have an easily forgettable name – or no name at all – and no back-story, this makes you more expendable as well. So I’m sorry, redshirts, but if we do know who you are, we probably won’t know for long.
Do not lose heart though, because you do serve a very valuable purpose. You see, when Kirk, Spock, and McCoy go down to tango with the lava monster, someone has to die. And you do not want Kirk to die, do you? Where would the show be then? That’s right. Someone has to take one for the team. So if you do decide to get out of bed in the morning, keep your chin up and know that you are engaged in a good cause. But please, for the love of all that is good and holy, try to shoot one of the bad guys before you bite the dust!
(How do they carry an unending supply of people wearing red shirts on a starship anyway? They must bud off of each other like yeast.)