Ex Machina

Oct. 21st, 2016 09:54 pm
[personal profile] asterroc
So I just watched Ex Machina and I wanted to process a bit. In case you're trying to remember what this movie is, it's the one with Poe Dameron Oscar Isaac and General Hux Domhnall Gleeson and a sexbot and trying to figure out if she passes the Turing test.


I went into it expecting problematic gender stuff from what I'd heard, and it didn't disappoint on that fact. Didn't? Did? I was expecting that it'd be implied/stated that Isaac had a lot of sex with Ava, while instead we find out that he's having sex with Kyoko.

Kyoko is such a problematic character from the start: she's a silent submissive docile serving woman who is clearly East Asian (I'd assumed Korean, the actress is Japanese), doesn't speak English, and does as she's told. OMFG is this the stereotype of the geisha and/or war bride or what? It's really disturbing; she is treated as an object, not a person, even before we know for sure that she isn't human. I wish the film showed why she chose to reveal herself to Caleb - like did she want to escape too like Ava?

Nathan's revelation that Caleb can have sex with Ava is disturbing as well. We know that Ava is a robot/AI, and the whole question right from the start is whether she is a person or an object. As the movie progresses it becomes clear that Nathan sees her as an object, so discussing her vagina is like discussing a Fleshlight (male sex toy). But it also becomes clear that Caleb sees her as a person.

The analogy of the woman who studies color but is locked in a black and white room starts off feeling really heavy-handed: hurr hurr, if she leaves the room she sees everything, and that's like if a computer leaves the room it becomes human. But at the end, when Ava leaves her room, leaves the basement research area, travels through the ground-level house, and then leaves for the forest and the helicopter, that heavy-handedness transcends itself. So what were the criteria for Ava to pass the Turing test? It's not really that she had to convince Caleb of her sentience. It's not even that she had to convince Nathan she was capable of empathy, manipulation, etc. She passed because her own actions and choices led her to her own goal, her self-actualization of escaping to the outer world, and she achieved her own objective of watching pedestrians on a busy street. The passing of the Turing test is that that she passed others' goals, but that she set her own and then passed them.

So while the gender stuff is really blatant objectification of women, I think this was actually the whole point of the film. In the end Ava makes her own goals and meets them, and she leaves the men behind - killing Nathan, and trapping Caleb the way they originally planned to trap Nathan.

Have y'all seen it, and what do you think?
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