Saturday, October 1, 2011

Futurama: Don't Date Robots!

  I was watching Futurama the other day, and this episode from Season 3 called, "I Dated a Robot," shows how the ability to download celebrities into a robot form for folks to date is available in the future. They show this propaganda reel in the vein of "Reefer Madness" to try to dissuade Fry from dating Lucy Liu robot. It prompts discussion to me about themes of sexual fantasy, ownership (to what extent is a downloaded sexual fantasy robot free?), personhood of the mechanical, and ethical considerations of techno-rape. (Is the sexual relationship with a downloaded memory into a physical form considered rape or sexual assault?) 

1 comment:

  1. Kristi,

    Your comment about the ethical considerations of techno-rape made me think of Joss Whedon's Dollhouse. The show centers around "dolls" (empty people) who are programmed to perform specific tasks for paying clients. In some situations the dolls are programmed to be sexually available. In the series you see the lead doll, Echo, in many sexcapades. But a storyline that specifically addresses your question is the episode where one of the newer dolls, Sierra, is discovered to have had "sex" even though the dolls aren't allowed to engage in unauthorized sexual activity. What we ultimately find out in this episode is that Sierra was raped by her handler (basically her bodyguard that she learns to trust whole heartedly) and has been experiencing traumatic flashbacks of the events.

    BUT what is striking about this storyline is that the only reason why it was eventually called rape (if I remember correctly) is because her handler did not have ownership of her (which the Dollhouse does) and did not have the clearance to have sexual relations with her. However, if her handler has paid the Dollhouse $10,000+ like the other clients he could have without any problem even though the dolls never consent to sexual activity.

    With all of that, I think consent, ownership, personhood of the mechanical (or lack thereof) are all connected to sexual exploitation.

    You can, in fact, rape a doll…or a machine.