Monday, August 18, 2008

Sex and Technology

If you've read much of the Hideaway you know I find human behavior and identity to be fascinating. And you know i'm a total nerd. So the geektastic question I am going to address in today's blog entry is why is Cherry 2000 culturally relevant?

Cherry 2000 was a bad 1987 movie that has attained cult status - no doubt helped by semi-regular lustful references to the Cherry 2000 by Crow and Tom Servo on MST3K. Cherry 2000 wasn't the first movie to feature a humanoid sex robot (ok, technically an android), Blade Runner in 1982 had Pris the replicant. But Pris *looked* like a whore.

Cherry 2000 looked like the girl next door, and wasn't just an animated sex doll but the main character's wife-substitute.

When the main character breaks his wife/doll, he puts her personality/memory on a chip and sets out in search of a new body to house 'her'. But being a sentimental human, he wants the same model - not any old female shell to house his beloved memory chip, he wants the exact same doll, because the human has fallen in love with his android and is emotionally attached to both the physical representation of her as a person as well as her 'personality'. (of course the entire movie is set up so he instead abandons his wife/doll in the desert and falls in love with a REAL woman, a pre-Antonio Banderas Melanie Griffith.) But go back a sentence or two, where I talk about how he has fallen in love with the artificial human - THIS is one of the things that makes Cherry 2000 different from Pris or Gigalo Joe (AI). Cherry is loved. She is in a relationship, as much as she can be given that she is property and not programmed to consider independence (or really anything other than subservience) an option. Cherry, Pris and Joe are all designed and programmed to be sex partners for humans, but Cherry 2000 is the only one who is truly owned (the second difference). Pris and Joe are prostitutes, but have freedom to move about in society and choose their partners/activities/home/relationships. Cherry is property. And IMO this makes her far less human than Pris or Joe, despite the fact that she appears to have the more conventional and respectable/stable life. She has no free will, and that makes her less human than the other human substitutes.

So why is the creation of human sex substitutes so common in the future vision? Is it technology for technology's sake? Misogeny run amok? I think it is just that sex is fun, but people are complicated and STD's are a bitch. But if we've evolved enough to create complex human substitutes, shouldn't we have evolved enough to change our attitudes about sex between consenting adults and by and large not need the sex robots? Sure, the hideously ugly or those into really whacked out kinks that they can't find willing partners for would still need/want these dolls, but what would drive a human into the bed of a machine versus a true flesh and blood human offering the same services? Pure skill? (Not to say that skill isn't desirable; after all, Data rocked Lt. Yar's world). If that is the primary criteria for sex android evolution, there damn well better be Joe models and not just Cherry and Pris.

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