THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS SPOILERS!
Once again I find myself questioning my deep love of sci-fi movies. Although difficult to say out loud, the genre continues to stress me out.
I posted an article a while back titled, ‘Hey Sci-Fi, Where Are All The Black People’, born from having watched the Christopher Nolan film Interstellar. Today my thoughts stem from the latest sci-fi thriller, Ex Machina.
First I have to say I enjoyed the movie. The A.I. robot whose name is Ava is definitely one of the coolest I have seen and the actress Alicia Vikander who played her brought what is arguably one of the more realistic takes on what one might expect from a sentient artificial being.
For those who have not seen it, we are now moving onto the SPOILERS. I will begin with a brief overview of the plot:
1. Man invents robot.
2. Man finds second man to test if the machine exhibits intelligent behavior equivalent, or indistinguishable from that of a human. This test is known as the Turing Test.
3. Second man falls in love with robot, also discovers that the inventor is shady and so tries to help said robot.
All the while the second man Caleb, played by Domhnall Gleeson discovers that Ava is not the inventor Nathan’s (played by Oscar Isaac) first robot that passed the Touring test. Upon this discovery he finds the bodies of several other female robots in various forms of disrepair. Of these robots there are about three clearly Asian females and 2 clearly Caucasian females. There is one, and I hesitate to say, clearly black female. The body is with out doubt a brown skinned female, but for some reason, one that I cannot explain (but is the reason for this article) is without a head.
Some of the discarded robots are missing a limb or two but all have their heads. My racism radar starts beeping. Why is the one black robot without a head? Then my mind races back to a dialogue between the two male characters earlier in the film about taste. Nathan tries to evoke some emotion out of Caleb by asking about his taste in women. He asks him what he is ‘into’. No answer, he responds for him, ‘Say you are into black chicks right?’ You don’t know why, you just are” and then proceeds to explain his thoughts on life.
This bothers me.
For one, black women aren’t a novelty to have a ‘thing’ for, like curly hair, long fingers, or green eyes for example. Sure, some people have a preference, I get it, I have several friends of one background that prefer another, but they would never say I have a ‘thing’ for this ethnic background. The issue, however, especially in light of the recent and overdue media coverage to the ongoing blatant racism and murder of black men at the hands of police officers in this country is that if we can’t have actual open discussions on racism in this country then I don’t feel comfortable watching two white men discuss their thoughts on black women for entertainment purposes.
What I also find jarring is that within my usual post viewing research most of the articles did address the more obvious topics circling misogyny and the male desire to create and dominate the perfect woman. But no one else seems to have noticed these other scenes.
But a huge message is being sent and should not go unnoticed. The black female body is still at the bottom in the future according to Sci-Fi. The one black robot body was the only robot without a head, without thought, without a means of defending oneself or expressing oneself.
If a genre that is accepted as taking reality and running with it any which way it wants while adding some what plausible scientific theories to it can’t be forward thinking and ahead of this sad social game we play then we are doomed!
The dystopian society predicted in the films the Matrix or A Clockwork Orange are starting to sound way more likely than the Gene Rodenberry universe I always hoped for