by Madeline Iva
There’s a new movie in town, my vaginas, and it’s called EX MACHINA.
Alexa Day asked if you’d have sex with a robot. Sure! Who wouldn’t?
But there’s robots and then there’s sex bots. Robots do robot-y things. Sex bots are enticing. They represent the forbidden. Stepping away from humanity in order to get sexual gratification from a machine is a big no-no, a boundary that must be crossed to get it on.
They are the ultimate in objectification, and point towards a whole other kind of Turing/personhood test. If you can have sex with something in a way that closely approximates human sex, then it’s probably a person, right? Even if it’s got gears and computer chips and syncro-mesh whatever.
But the idea of a sex bot is that it serves a purpose, i.e. to get you off. There’s something wildly sexy in that premise to most people. It’s like having your cake and eating it too. You’re not exploiting another human for sex, yet you’re still having your way with somebody without regard for what she/it wants. It’s geek-prostitution.
The thing is though–after we’ve done METROPOLIS, THE STEPFORD WIVES, BLADE RUNNER, AI, etc, etc, etc…and then the “Siri” based Spike Jonz movie HER–and now EX MACHINA, one has to stop wondering how great it would be to have sex with a robot and start wondering why sci-fi writers/directors want to stop having sex with real women?
I was wondering what’s up with this whole no-interesting-women-in-the-future-unless-they’re-robots theme when I stumbled upon this guy Nate Zoebl on Rotten Tomatoes who was on the same page. He says, “What is it about android women that science fiction seems to love so much? From Blade Runner to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the genre loves the concept of robotic women. Perhaps this is merely a byproduct of a genre written by a majority of men, or perhaps it taps into something more unconscious about the desire to control women, or a fear of women, but that’s a conversation for another day.”
I think not, Nate. I think we should have that conversation right now.
Okay, here’s one reason to cut some slack for guys who come up with these movies: the evolution of technology. We now date via computers, we hook up via phone aps, we have sex via porn — certainly there’s more and more of a disconnect between us when it comes to face to face/no technology human time. And isn’t that exactly what sex is–face to face no tech human being time?
With the creation of so many sex bot movies, are men desiring to control women/express their fear of women, or are they gradually being groomed to mistrust human touch overall?
This would be like saying that humans in today’s world are eating high-tech food that’s so highly processed with high concentrations of salt, sugar, and fat, that eventually a plain carrot would be repellant…hey! That *is* actually happening.
Okay, another argument — perhaps is this NOT about women at all, but about overcoming innate human hostility to technology–with technology being represented as little gals in wee tiny silver clothing (or even no clothing at all.) This theory goes: If you f*** it, you won’t fear it–as much.
Well, I don’t buy it. I think it’s all about sex-fetishism, it’s about forbidden indulgence, and you can lace it up in a big corset full of paranoia, but we’re pretty much in the same neighborhood as putting Princess Leia in a skinny bronze bikini and chaining her up to a giant fat slug. It’s titillating.
Meanwhile: where are all the guy sex-bots?
I mean, look at the ALIENS franchise. They had robots. Yet they were always creepy/scary men. No love interest in sight. (I mean robotic love interest–you know I’ll always have a special place for you in my heart, Hicks.) One day I’ll post my conspiracy theory about Aliens and the evolution of cyborgs within the franchise, because I think they could have gone somewhere with this, but chose not to.
Finally, along comes PROMETHEUS. By now, the cyborg is the bad guy in the Alien franchise–it’s tradition. Unless they flip him into a self-sacrificial saint (Aliens).
Yet with PROMETHEUS I thought, ‘okay, now we’re getting somewhere,” because:
a) They cast Michael Fassbinder as David, an 8th generation cyborg, who can understand human emotions, but cannot apparently feel them.
b) They gave him a sense of macabre humor…
Alas, the movie sucked to the point of incoherence, much less providing any scraps of romance or male sex-bot-ism for anyone to slather over. Sigh. There’s a sequel, and Michael Fassbinder is in it, but don’t get your hopes up.
Male sex-bot-ism representations are so very, very few. Gigolo, from A.I. was a ‘pleasure model’ played by Jude Law. Does he have sex with women in the movie? Who cares?–that’s not the point of the movie and his role in it. ARG! No titillation anywhere!
The other example of a male sex-bot is from a horrifically cheese television show called CLEOPATRA 2525–a stripper becomes a popsicle after her boob job goes awry. (Are you feeling the cheap titillation yet? I thought so.) She gets thawed in the future only to find everyone living underground while robots control the surface.
In the midst of this cheesy-cheese-fest, there’s a robot good guy named Mauser. He’s put to work in the lab when he’s not fighting with the women warriors. Since he’s the only man-meat around, one of the soldiers–a woman named ‘Sarge’ grabs him for the occasional illicit boink. Go Sarge! Sarge, in my opinion, is one smart cookie, figuring out a third way to keep Mauser occupied — with some pure unrepentant sex-bot-ism!
Nate Zoebl in his Rotten Tomatoes write up says something about writer/director Garland’s ability “to work his Kubrick fetish fully to its eerie erotic ends.” For the record, I happily applaud any and all Kubrick-ian fetishes worked to their eerie erotic ends–I just want more male sex bots involved. Is that too much to ask?
Okay, peeps, you know what you gotta do. Get out there and write scripts with male sex bots. Write novels about men sex bots that will get turned into scripts–do whatever it takes to create the hunk-bots we so ardently crave. And follow LadySmut, where we’ll work your pleasure crank 24/7. 🙂
One writer who put a fun twist on this whole motif was Geneva DeCroix — check out her erotica short story “The Dealership” here.