Westworld Stages a Consciousness Raising

HBO’s new hit show riffs on one of Second Wave feminism’s signature tactics

At the start of the pilot it was Dolores.  At the start of this weekend’s episode, Maeve.

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Images from Westworld via The Week

These shots of two of Westworld’s central characters waking up help visually underscore the narrative parallels of these two characters. As stereotypes of women they represent the Westworld poles of the madonna/whore dichotomy. Both are attractive to a number of the park’s visitors, though one for her romantic innocence as much as the other for her worldly knowing.

The similar shots of waking also provide us reminders that Westworld is a story in no small part about androids waking up to their circumstances as objects designed for entertainment that are also frequently objects of desire, sex, and violence.

The theme of awakening to the true structure of their reality is also echoed in the script followed by employees performing diagnostic interviews with “hosts” in the corporate laboratory.  In this set-piece, the host in question (often Dolores) answers the question, “Do you know where you are?” with, “Yes, I am in a dream.”

Thus the movement between the real world as dream and the “awake” world of the Westworld theme park takes on irony and existential weight for main characters Dolores and Maeve.

Viewers can expect that as these women awaken to their circumstances, something in the narrative world will change.

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And that expectation feels like a pop cultural legacy of Second Wave feminism to me.   Continue reading Westworld Stages a Consciousness Raising

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Westworld Needs Christian Fans

Christians Have Good Reasons Not to Watch Westworld. Maybe Some of Them Really Should Anyway.

Early this month HBO launched its newest Sunday night drama. Glittering with big screen stars on horizons as vast as any classic Western, Westworld delivers the sort of small screen spectacle only the most generous pay-cable budgets can provide.

As immediately obvious as the size of its budget, however, are the size of Westworld’s ethical questions about the relationship between humanity and technology. Debuting just a few weeks before Playstation4’s new virtual reality head-set, the series asks how later generations of virtual reality technology will force us to recalibrate our ethics. How will creations a few iterations beyond today’s digital entertainments, bioengineering feats, and artificial intelligence confound our moral compasses? Continue reading Westworld Needs Christian Fans

Sleepy Hollow’s Katrina Crane and the Temptation of Many Moms

It’s been a few weeks so I don’t feel that I’m giving away much by talking about   recent developments with the ever-corset-clad Katrina Crane on Fox’s Sleepy Hollow.  (But if you’re behind a few weeks, stop here and come back later.)

On the face of them, Katrina’s relational dilemmas were unique.  By season they went something like:

How to navigate a marriage marked by passion that could not be suppressed (initially unraveling engagements and life-long friendships and later bridging the after-life) but that was forged in a certain amount of deceit? (Leaving out the whole being witch thing was sort of a biggie.)

After a 200-year interruption during which she suffered in purgatory but has now returned to our realm unaged, how to rebuild a family with her husband, himself 200 years dead, entombed, but arisen unaged, and her son Jeremy, who was buried alive as a young man only to be unearthed showing fewer than his 200 years–but only marginally so?

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Jeremy Crane, age indeterminate (played by John Noble, age 66)

 

And then something like, how to be true to herself as the mother of one of the Four Horsemen, the wife of a Revolutionary and Apocalyptic Warrior, and a witch recently introduced to how (dum, dum, dum) Blood Magic juices her powers?

Yup.  Her ahistorically purply red hair and preference for wearing corsets not even the tip of the iceberg, Katrina has seemed a rather peculiar gal.

But though the glowing ashes of her magical corpse disintegrated in a breeze, the final act of Katrina Crane’s demise told an altogether ordinary story. Continue reading Sleepy Hollow’s Katrina Crane and the Temptation of Many Moms