GABBLER RECOMMENDS: Westworld’s Female Hosts Signal a Shift In Our Fear of Robots by Becky Ferreira

“If we look at the early stories around creating artificial women, like Pandora, who was an artificial creation by the gods, of course she unleashed all the terror in the world,” Devlin, whose forthcoming book Turned On examines human-robot sexual interactions, told me over Skype.

“She did the wrong thing and messed up,” she said. “It’s the whole Christian Eve [narrative] as well. You’ve got this really long-standing trope about women—don’t let them do anything, they’ll get it wrong, they’ll do it bad.”

Empowering women with knowledge is hardwired into Western storytelling as a recipe for disaster, regardless of whether those women are human or robotic. This is the central dynamic in that opening scene between Bernard and Dolores. Bernard is not physically intimidated by Dolores; he specifies that it’s her mind and its evolution that frightens him. What will be the outcome of all her ruminations?

Bernard suspects, and the show confirms, that it will be bloody and chaotic, just like so many past stories in which women get wise and wreak havoc. Ex Machina toys with a similar undercurrent in which a female robot (Alicia Vikander) learns enough about the men keeping her captive to exploit their weaknesses.

That connection between female intellectual maturation and extremely watchable catastrophe is further reflected in Westworld’s choice to make female hosts, particularly Dolores and Maeve (Thandie Newton), much more active agents of rebellion than their male companions Teddy (James Marsden) and Hector (Rodrigo Santoro).

These artificial men are also repeatedly victimized in the show—we see implied sexual violence against them by the staff and they are treated as target practice for the guests. But Teddy follows Dolores somewhat questioningly, and Hector follows Maeve totally unquestioningly, and both seem to experience their newfound independence vicariously through the women.

What makes these unthinking male warrior robots so scary is that they don’t generally buck their directives. Even in cases where male robots are able to supercede their programming, like Sonny in the 2004 film I, Robot or HAL-9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey, they do so in dedication to a larger mission goal rather than for their own independence.

..

With this response, she further undermines Lee’s dignity, while simultaneously demonstrating that she can be self-aware about her own coding.

[Via]

GABBLER RECOMMENDS: We’re All the Horsemen of the Apocalypse in New Doomsday Movies

Interestingly, despite our ever present doomsday fictions, the nature of the way we’ve portrayed the innumerable horsemen of the apocalypse has changed. In the past, the apocalypse was a single, cataclysmic event that could be stopped. From the machine armies of Terminator to the nuclear fallout in On the Beach, the apocalypse was always the result of a choice . But now, our end of the world stories tackle issues that are “broader and more diffuse,” which makes us “afraid but less able to point to a source of our fear,” Bures wrote.

[Via]

See also: What we talk about when we talk about post-apocalyptic stories.

On Narcissism:

‘Ultimately, she’s not so much scrutinizing each type of narcissist as she is analyzing the supposedly non-narcissistic person’s interest in them. At the center of this essay is Dombek’s exploration of the “healthy” person’s relationship with the narcissist: our fear of him and our belief that our moment may be particularly marked by narcissism. The driving force of The Selfishness of Othersis the way in which Dombek carefully dissects the anatomy of this particular moral panic. Fear, after all, is necessarily just as much about the terrified as the terrorizing. In her gorgeous, sinuous writing, where each sentence complicates itself, sometimes suggesting its own antithesis, she questions the notion that the fear of the pathological narcissist and narcissism itself are so different at all. We “live in a time so rampant with narcissisms,” she writes, “so flush with false selves masquerading as real selves… a time so full of contagious emptiness, that ours is a moment in history that is, more than any other, absolutely exceptional.” The joke is simple, and characteristic of the mordant irony laced throughout the book: To say that we live in a uniquely narcissistic time is itself an act of narcissism.’

[Via]

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.