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‘American Gods’ is ‘Get Out’ on Acid, Coke and PCP

I won’t go over the plot points of Jordan Peele’s breakout smash-hit Get Out because everyone has seen it and it’s old news at this point. But for me— and for this piece— the film’s only plot point of concern is Chris’ inevitability to escape a world of mostly white people who want to use him for sinister gain. The similarities between Shadow Moon and Chris are clear as day. They are two powerless black men surrounded by much more powerful white people with far greater agency and resources.

In Shadow Moon’s case, he likes not having agency and not being in control of his own life. Chris, on the other hand, wants love and companionship after his mother dies in a car accident early in his life. He seeks out some companionship in the form of Rose Armitage that ultimately leads to his peculiar situation in the film.

American Gods don’t reveal why Shadow Moon sticks around after things get weird and unusual. In 5 episodes, Shadow Moon has been sent jail/prison twice, lynched by Technical Boy, used by multiple people, threaten to be murdered by the god Chernobog and he stills stick around.

The latest episode entitled “Lemon Scented You,” Shadow reconnects with his white dead wife who has come back from the afterlife. Laura Moon is the reason Shadow gets sent to prison and she died while giving her neighbor a blowjob while driving to a surprise party for Shadow. To be clear Laura did the following:

  1. Convinced Shadow to rob a casino.
  2.  Gets him arrested.
  3. Admits to not really loving him. Calls him a puppy.
  4. Cheats.
  5. Dies giving a bj.
  6. Comes back in Shadow’s life because he is the only person that makes her feel alive.

Additionally, this episode introduces Mr. World one of many white gods in the show. Mr. World, Technical Boy, and Media are the new gods and are responsible for breaking Mr. Wednesday also know as Odin and Shadow out of prison. (I believe Mr. Nancy also known as Anansi helped free Odin. Technical Boy apologized for the failed lynching.) This after the new gods gave the tip that led to Shadow’s arrest.

At this point, every white character in the show has turned his life into a nightmare. His zombified wife is a stalker now. He is in the middle of a war between new and old gods. And he can’t escape. Odin recruited a leprechaun named Mad Sweeney to coerce Shadow to work for him. The gods continue to commune with Shadow and bring in deeper into their strange world. This is done without his consent primarily because they want him for some purpose.

Honestly, I don’t believe Shadow wants to get out. He likes this strangeness.

**Spoiler warning for season one of Westworld, Humans

and the 2015 film Ex Machina.**

Any fan of science fiction is familiar with the artificial intelligence. It is a common theme and nowadays it has been played with to death. For the last seven or so years, the idea that a brilliant male—often white— scientist creating a gorgeous female robot with the capacity of human consciousness and falling in love with that creation has dominated recent pop culture. I think that is the case for three reasons:

  1. Men aka humankind like to play God.
  2.  Men (mostly male scientists from movies) want to have complete authority over something they create.
  3. Dating can be hard and your creation will love you unconditionally.

But that is the problem. There is a big difference between loving and respecting your creation and wanting to use your attractive robot for sex or exploitation. In season one of Westworld,  season one of Humans and the Alex Garland film Ex Machina, those two concepts are thoroughly debated. Westworld and Humans explore the concepts through a large cast of characters but they both conclude with the idea that if the creation knows that it is a creation, it really isn’t an object anymore. It has agency, desires and the ability to consent. I briefly want to look at Ava from Ex Machina, Maeve from Westworld and Niska from Humans. ex-machina-robots-xlarge

Ava is probably the most intelligent example of a conscious robot. Throughout the film, she manipulates programmer Caleb (Domhnall Gleeson) by pretending to fall in love with him after a series of conversations to prove that she has consciousness. Unbeknownst to him, she was plotting to escape her creator Nathan’s (Oscar Isaac) high tech estate. Garland’s film makes it known that Nathan does not value Ava or her Japanese counterpart Kyoko. He sees them as objects to be enjoyed. Caleb does not but that does not save him. By end of the film, Ava kills Nathan and leaves Caleb behind even though he “valued” her.

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In the case of Maeve and Niska, these two A.I. women were repurposed into sex workers. That in itself is problematic. Maeve was a mother and settler before becoming a madam at a brothel. As her consciousness began to awaken, she wanted her old life back. She wanted her child back. The problems began to arise when Maeve realized that she did not consent to being a sexual object. Knowledge of her past self and a desire to choose made her more than a robot. It must be noted that Maeve did offer her body to the Westworld staff so that they can help her escape.

The same thing goes for Niska. She was created to act as a companion and friend to Leo but her creator George Millican violated her and used her as a sex object. She was then repurposed into a sex worker, put to work in a brothel after Millican’s suicide and turned on a customer after realizing that she doesn’t have to be that.

The point I am trying to make here is that in both cases the hosts in Westworld and the synths in Humans were created to serve as objects for pleasure or for day-to-day tasks for humans. However, if the synths and the hosts gained the ability to say no, set out to find their own purpose and reject the idea of being used—they are conscious and no longer robots.2017-05-15_1840

When it comes to the real world, sex robots are in the process of becoming a reality bringing along with it questions of consent, consciousness, and ethics. A few weeks ago, The Guardian released a documentary chronicling the rise of the first sex bots. And it turns out that we are closer than ever to having a real life talking sex bot that will be used to fulfill men and other genders needs. After watching the short doc, I see no ethical issues yet —the keyword here is yet— because the tech has not advanced far enough to create a robot that wants to have its own identity and/or purpose. But when that happens, we should revisit the question.

Take a look at the documentary and judge for yourself.

Please Don’t Screw The Robots

In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.

In Theaters – July 14, 2017.

Directed By Matt Reeves
Cast: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Amiah Miller, Karin Konoval, Judy Greer and Terry Notary.

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Final Trailer Shows Caesar Giving Hell to Humans