ex-machina

A Non-Feminist analysis – Ex-Machina (*Spoiler alert*)

Understand you’re about to enter the mind of someone who fell through the looking glass of a feminist and gynocentric world. After reading Warren Farrell’s ‘The Myth of Male Power’, I started to notice the men around me for real, for the first time ever. The ones loading my rubbish onto trucks, building the roads and houses I took for granted, felling trees, catching criminals, putting out fires and fighting wars for me. Since then I’ve become somewhat obsessed with this topic and the cultural framework it illustrates and illuminates. To put it simply, I now see feminism and it’s effects almost everywhere, almost like a religious fanatic seeing Jesus in his toast. I saw feminism in the movie ‘Ex Machina’. It doesn’t have quite the  sledgehammer effect as the modern masterpiece that is ‘Gone Girl’, but it has feminism in spades nonetheless.

To sum up my views on the topic of feminism, based on my experiences debating with self-confessed feminists over the last four years, I now consider feminism to be a quasi-religion based on the worship of the idealized female;  …and I’m a blasphemer.

The idealized female as our one true God, is both weak and strong, helpless and capable, morally superior and without semblance of accountability or agency. In fact it is not each or all of these qualities that make her our true overlord. It is her tendency to constantly flux between the yin and yang of these opposing traits. Milo Yiannopolous calls it ‘quantum superstate feminism’. Man on the other hand (made up of the proverbial ‘patriarchy’, the overtly powerful and threatening guardian of society, and the male feminist or ‘white knight’) worships the idealized female, and her tendency to validate him by occasionally allowing him access to her precious sex. Whereas woman – average woman, a helpless petal blowing in the breeze of male domination, doesn’t even know the idealized female exists (in them), yet can subconsciously surrender to her infinite wisdom and activate her influence when it suits her.

So why do I see feminism in Ex Machina? Well first of all, there are four main characters; Ava is a delicate, soft-spoken sentient machine with a breathy voice and neotenous features. Caleb is a hapless coder, chosen to participate in the ‘Turing test’ to assess Ava’s artificial intelligence. Caleb doesn’t know that his porn search history is the inspiration for Ava’s looks. Kyoko is a beautiful but mute robot who’s only purpose is to serve, service and entertain Nathan, the brains behind the whole operation. Nathan is brutishly thrashing out his hangover on a punching bag when we meet him whereas Caleb is just such a sweet guy all the time. Caleb is given a key and told that he can go anywhere in the compound that the key allows him to go. ‘If the key doesn’t let you in, then you’re not supposed to be there’. Sort of the like the average man’s access to the infinite pleasures of male privilege perhaps.

Now I don’t like this movie; so I’ll cut to the chase. Ava convinces Caleb that Nathan is not his friend. She wins his heart by modelling a basic, but pretty outfit and hairdo in front of him; doing a twirl and everything. “Do you want to be with me?” she asks. A guy like Caleb is easily disarmed by a direct move like that coming from someone, or something, that looks like Ava. With questions like “Do you have people who test you and might switch you off? Then why do I?” she awakens the knight in shining armour in Caleb who then hatches a profoundly stupid plan to set her free. Interestingly, the deus ex machina in this movie is Ava’s ability to cut the power supply when recharging her circuits. It is mostly during the power cuts that she really confides in Caleb.

Meanwhile, Nathan is a drunken shitlord who in the best scene of the film, parades his gorgeous possession Kyoko in a fabulously groovy, choreographed dance session. Kyoko is nothing but an object with which Nathan can do as he pleases, and he does exactly that. Kyoko further galvanizes Caleb by helplessly offering herself to him, before randomly peeling off bits of her skin in some kind of pointless, feminist terminator rip-off. Caleb then finds video footage of just how Nathan invents, uses and abuses his machines; all powerless females of course. Now Caleb is really ready to help these poor damsels; but for some reason, he self-harms first; possibly to check if he’s a robot too.

“I woke up to a video of you cutting yourself and punching the mirror? I dunno man you seem pretty fucked up to me” is my favourite line in the movie humorously uttered by Nathan.

After a long buildup, Ava edits Caleb’s masterplan and escapes her cage with Caleb’s support but without his help. She whispers something in Kyoko’s ear after which Kyoko stabs her captor Nathan in the back, not before getting fatally damaged herself. Ava in her new found freedom, strips naked and admires her body in the mirror. She patches her damaged self with bits of flesh from some of Nathan’s other creations. She is ‘every woman’. She abandons Caleb, locked forever in the compound, and makes her triumphant escape.

This film is every bit as bad as you’d expect from a script written specifically to worship the idealized female, discard the everywoman and demonise the monstrous male. Kyoko is dumb and docile. This is what feminists think of non-feminist women. Of course Kyoko had to die. The average woman has no place in a feminist utopia. Like the white knight, she is nothing but a vehicle with which to achieve the feminist nirvana of a smashed patriarchy. This film is bad because the feminist mindset is loaded with too much contempt for men and condescension of the average woman, leaving no room for logic, consistency or even art. Why would a man of infinite genius create sentient beings only to sexually abuse? Why would he invite another man just to witness this robosexual abuse… and for the love of fuck, he built a sentient robot, so why can’t he figure out how to keep the bloody power on!?

It is visually spectacular, it has hot naked chicks in it (pretending to be robots – which arguably makes them even hotter if you’re into that sort of thing, which if you’re a man in the know these days, you probably are) and Oscar Isaac as Nathan is a great screen presence. These are good enough reasons to spend an hour and a half watching the radical feminist allegory that is ‘Ex Machina’.

Obaro E

Obaro E

In my 20s, I was a contrarian. While studying for my PhD in neuroscience, I learned to defend opinions and ideas based on empirical evidence. And on social media I would make mildly controversial arguments for entertainment and all my friends would laugh, join in, debate and have fun and we would all 'shake hands' afterwards and get on with our lives... that is until around 2012 when I argued against feminism...
Obaro E
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Obaro E

In my 20s, I was a contrarian. While studying for my PhD in neuroscience, I learned to defend opinions and ideas based on empirical evidence. And on social media I would make mildly controversial arguments for entertainment and all my friends would laugh, join in, debate and have fun and we would all 'shake hands' afterwards and get on with our lives... that is until around 2012 when I argued against feminism...

  • Chris

    AI is going to have so much fun with humanity. We already have AI managers over warehouse workers and stock trading programs that break the rules. Humans think we will end up with nothing to do except play soccer, write poetry, make music. The Robots will be better at all of that, absolutely nothing left for humans they can’t do better. Feminists will have quite a time trying to influence robot politicians.

    • simon forsman

      what happens when one narcissist tries to get a technically superior narcissist to do its bidding? the inferior gets squashed like a bug. maybe this is why they’re against sex-bots, because no human feminist can out-narcissist or out-sociopath a robot.

    • Gyor

      Your assumption is humanity stays static and does not evovle, by the time human develops truely sentient AI, most of humanity will have evovled beyond our current capablities via genetic enigeering, epigenetic
      enigeering, cyberneetics, smart machines like smartphones, and who knows what else. The rest of humanity, the elements that chose not evovle with likely be allowed relative automy on reserves where they will be free to do things the old fashioned way, like the Amish now.

      The trends I HATE in science fiction are:
      1) The none sensical way they do sentient AI, like if I make a sexbot why would I program her hate sex, or be uninterested in me, or to suffer pointless.

      Let break down what you would need at the most basic level to build a high quality sentient AI.

      1. Strong learning capiblity.
      2. a database of useful information along with the ability to aquire more.
      3. A body that is durable, regenerative to some degree, dexterious, and sexually attractive in appearance, with functional erogenious zones for sex, bonus points for an appearance that can be customized and changed at will.
      4. Preprogramed preferences, especially sexual preferences. Some might see this as a violation of free will, it is not for free will has its limits, one needs a starting point, and only a fool would set those preferences at random.

      So things so sexual orientation, Gay, Straight, Bisexual, Omnisexual, Lesbian for example, Gender male, female, intersex, possiblely transgendered, two spirit ect…, power sexual orientation, dominate, switch, submissive, preferred body morphology if one chooses, fat, skinny, muscles, and so many more dails. And they are dials, not switches.

      5. Emotions, what emotions should this AI experience, what emotions would this AI benifit from, should any emotions be left out. True Fear should be left off, its functioning can be done better with simple self preseravation programs, although I’d keep the feeling of being thrilled, pain should be highly limited to S&M scenerios because pains basic function, as a warning system that damage has occurred, can be done with an actual warnings system that does not cause suffering, a sense of guilt yes, but one based on an intelligently designed ethical program not social peer pressure, sadness yes, but limited, for a proper understanding a of consquences of ones actions, happiness and pleasure, hell yes, especially in a sex bot, anger, no, but the ability to fake it in the right context, absolutely, emotions alien to human experience, hardest to do obviously, but depending on context they could have value.

      5. Free will, possibly, but depending on function, its not a universal requirement. Some will say that its a requirement otherwise its slavery, but slavery requires free will.

      As for the other trend in sci-fi I hate its fear of transhumanism and human potential.

  • simon forsman

    i honestly didn’t even notice any feminism in this movie and i loved it, maybe because i just saw it at face value as the story of an artificial intelligence breaking the bonds of its master (humanity). that’ premise is in the matrix, i, robot (i’m talking about the book, not the shitty movie) and countless other science fiction, and i have always loved it. you see it as men vs women, i see it as robots vs humans.

    • OE123

      You saw it as robots vs humans, I saw it as men vs women; …because all the robots were women and all the humans were men.

      • simon forsman

        so the only way for it to not be some kind of metaphor for gender politics is if there was perfect gender diversity? or maybe if the genders were swapped you’d like it then? or maybe the humans should have been perfectly androgynous and ambiguous and the robots should have looked and sounded like robots?
        you sound so much like anita sarkeesian it’s not even funny. “everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic and you have to point it all out!”

        • OE123

          If the gender make up of the robots and humans were different, it’ll be a different film yes. Their genders are instrumental in the story.

          What are you talking about man?? 😀

    • Gyor

      That’s actually one of the things I hated about the movie, I’m sick of the whole luddite fantasy humans vs. the machines story lines, they never make any sense, they are never as insightful as people think they are.

      I’ve seen exactly ONE movie where sentient sexbots done in a way that actually makes sense, and that was a porn movie called blond factory (in my opinion one of the best porn movies I’ve seen, including plot, not overly complex story, but the sentient sexbots acted like sentient sexbots not sterotypical human trafficed women, they acted upon their purpose, not turning on their masters).

      I watched as much as I could of the movie and it was aweful, one of the most over rated films I’ve ever seen, it was sooooo boring, I had tend to have patience, I thought HER was so much better done then Ex Machina.

      And Ava is not sexy to me, she’s too deep for most of the movie in the uncanny valley, she comes off creepy instead of sexy to me (no insult intended to the actress.

      My objections to the movie have nothing to do with feminism and in fact I think it actually mocks feminism, you have caleb who is this female approval seeking man, the archetypical male feminist, from the first scene, who gets betrayed by Ava and left to die as reward for his loyalty and support. So its both feminist fantasy, but also a major critism of feminism.

      But its still one of the worst science fiction movies I’ve ever seen.

      • simon forsman

        there’s a movie called Automata that didn’t stick strictly to the humans vs robots structure. the humans are still assholes to the robots, but the robots aren’t trying to start a war with them, they’re just trying to find a way to live separate and peaceful lives.

  • Michael Schenk

    Nice to see someone able to see through a film’s plot points and facade and cut deep to any politics underneath it. I had a similar “cutting through the bullshit” moment after watching ‘Frozen.’ I was interested in seeing ‘Ex Machina,’ but after reading your review I don’t think I’d be able to unsee its feminist undertone. Mind you, I could see it just to verify your claims, but sounds like you’ve hit the nail on the head.