Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ex Machina

"Do you or don't you want this to be your song?
It doesn't take a rebel to sing along
This art is weak in its pretty pretty frame"

Marilyn Manson - Born Again

Ex Machina's crap.
Not complete crap. Its basic concept carries a great deal of weight and it benefited from an ending much better than that of much better movies. Still, overall I'm starting to think 28 Days Later must've been elevated by Danny Boyle's handiwork because in terms of directing, Alex Garland pretty much face-planted this one. No amount of critic ass-kissing can change that.

Most of the basic elements could have made for a great movie. The acting, admittedly, is quite good within the limitations of the roles assigned. The special effects are great both technologically and artistically. The plot's skeleton was solid. However, the movie vastly overplays its hand with its characters' cinema verite awkwardness and simplicity. These men do not speak, do not move, do not conceptualize like the kind of minds which wrap themselves around such grandiose concepts as artificial consciousness. Their every line reads more like backstreet hooligans' bullshitting while shooting hoops than nerdy banter or speculation.

Of course there's a reason for that. Men are stupid - or so the line toed by Hollywood stretches. Men are evil. Men are pigs. The movie fails to live up to its potential because it sacrifices science fiction for feminist propaganda, and has been lionized and glamorized for the same reason. Over-sexualized and under-analyzed it settles for simplistic shock value where it could have actually explored the question of what exactly it is about intelligence which we can recognize on sight. It settles for a cheap sexist pastiche of stupid, primitive, unrefined men keeping nominal women as sex toys in their basement - and of course getting what they deserve in the end.

How different would the story have been with gender roles mixed a bit? The ending is excellent, yet it's a pity that we can only get such an ending when it's aimed at reinforcing men's role as feminists' punching bags.

Could a social-media-based artifice of interpersonal control not have won over a female test subject as well? Would "she" have appealed to sisterly solidarity over the evil, evil man treating "her" as a sexual object or would a different latex face have allowed "him" to charm a female human just as easily?

Do we have any reason to believe a female researcher would have been less prone to create a male mirror to her own desires? Do we still suffer the mass delusion that the female gaze does not sculpt? Has anyone not heard of romance novels? Has no-one ever seen a romantic comedy?

Or is female control over male thought truly so absolute that even had the two male characters been intellectuals instead of street-corner dude-bros, had they been believable progenitors of new ideas and new technology like so many men throughout history, they would still have been controlled and subverted by a neotenized female face and the curves to match?

Is that why the movie's blatant abuse was swallowed so easily?

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