Robots as female fetishes and voodoo dolls

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Eva_Ex_Machina01In a Den of Geek article, filmmaker Alex Garland discussed his latest film, Ex Machina.  He had some interesting things to say about the story and the robotic main character, Ava, that caught my attention:

It’s partly an argument about the objectification of women in a particular way. In this sense, it’s a literal objectification.

Ava’s not actually a woman. She’s a machine that does not have a gender. So the question is, why is she presented as a girl in her early 20s? It’s because we fetishise girls in their early 20s. In a particular kind of way. Sometimes you read about that being shunted onto the media: advertising does it, film does it. It’s bullshit. It’s passing the buck. We all do it. Men do it and women do it. Right?

The reasons we do that are complicated, and I could make guesses as to why it is. But what seems to be beyond debate is that it does actually happen.

Women (in many countries, like the US) intentionally dress, use makeup and style their hair to fetishize themselves, even in socially- and politically-non-sexual situations (like office environments)—even as they demand to be seen as something more than fetish objects—and men, claiming to indeed see women as more than fetish objects, don’t actively discourage women from fetishizing themselves.  And science fiction goes the extra mile:  Objectifying women by robotizing them, as shown in Ex Machina, is as old as the first movies, and has become a rather tired trope of the genre that we cannot get away from, even today. Continue reading

Why no female superheroes? Fear.

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Wonder WomanA recent blog post by Sue Archer flags this popular issue: Thanks to years now of excellent and popular superhero movies, the fan world has been rearing up and calling out the obvious missing piece of the franchise puzzle: Why no female superhero movies yet?  Warner Brothers (who owns the DC Comics superheroes) has been held up to the light for producing Superman, Batman and Green Lantern for cinema, and a number of other male heroes for television, but not Wonder Woman.    And Marvel, seemingly doing no wrong with its superhero line-up, has so far passed on super-powered female heroes like Captain Marvel.

One begins to suspect a conspiracy… which, of course, is what the web has pounced on.  Everyone wants to know what’s going on here.

Naturally, I believe I know what’s happening.

I think they’re scared. Continue reading

Relevance in the modern era, with spies… and SF

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scene from Skyfall

Skyfall, courtesy MGM and Columbia Pictures.

The latest James Bond movie, Skyfall, may not be Bond’s sexiest, over-the-top adventure yet, but it might be his most vital: The theme of the movie is relevance… old vs new… and Bond’s place in the post-Cold-War era.  M and MI6 are similarly attacked—literally and, apparently, easily—as the villain applies the latest computer tools to the old-school organization, and brings into question whether or not this stodgy organization, and its spies, can keep up with the modern era. Continue reading