CAUTION: There are so many spoilers in here I can’t even. But don’t worry, it’s not worth watching anyway.
So not only have I not been sleeping well for weeks, I am now in Week Two of some hybrid flu / cold that started as fever and shakes and chills and has now evolved into a runny nose and phlegmy cough. I’ve barely walked the dogs for ages and they are getting tired of the confines of the back yard. My house is a mess and I am choosing to pretend this is because I am sick and tired (just work with me on this one). Mostly what I do in the evenings after a long day of functioning at work is pop cold meds like candy and watch Netflix while wrapped in a quilt and pinned into place by various dogs and cats.
Some evenings, just deciding what to watch is too much work. So the other day, when Netflix offered up Ex Machina, I thought “Why not? I like me a bit of scifi.” Very shortly, my “Why not?” was replaced with an annoyed “whyyyyyyyy????” The premise is that a young brilliant coder is “randomly” selected to spend a week at the estate of his genius boss. Genius Boss actually wants Smart Guy to do a modified Turing test on an AI that’s he’s developed. Genius Boss was a bit of a douche right from the beginning, but as soon as I saw the AI, my complaining began (yes, only the dogs and cats were around to hear it. No, that did not embarrass me): The AI’s body is that of a conventionally beautiful young white woman (Alicia Vikander). From the way Smart Guy’s eyes widen when he sees her, the arc of the story immediately becomes clear: he’s going to fall for her; she’s probably going to fall for him; together they will escape the evil Genius Boss and make a life together.
Le sigh. Seriously. When are movies going to get over the whole build-your-own-dream-girl thing?
But it got worse. Then comes a scene where Genius Boss and Smart Guy are being served their dinner by Kyoko, a conventionally beautiful Asian woman (Sonoya Mizuno), and the GB is all “no worries, dude, she speaks no English, my big AI secret is safe.” Normally, by this point I would just turn the damn thing off, but the idea of trying to find something else to watch was exhausting. And the hostility was keeping me awake. And the scene where Kyoko’s eyes flicker at the men’s conversation shows that not only can she understand English, but it’s easy to guess at that point that she’s also an AI.
Well, long story short, not only are both these “women” Artificial Intelligences, but GB has programmed stereotypical gendered behaviour into them, and basically has closets full of different physical and ethnic types of AIs to have sex with. (Which, if the AI experiment has been successful is basically forcible confinement and rape, and if they aren’t actual conscious beings, is still really fucking gross.) He tells Smart Guy that the AI he is “testing” is just manipulating him to escape, and in the end, that AI (named Ava), ends up walking away and leaving Smart Guy to die.
Therefore confirming and reaffirming and playing into and comfortably reinforcing the truly awful and damaging tropes and stereotypes and socially constructed ideas of men as heartless, sex-starved beasts (or alternatively, naive young men easily led by the dick) and women as manipulative bitches who use their beauty to destroy men.
The acting was great; the sets were pretty much perfect. But the story? For real, it was so predictable and corny that I was kind of disgusted.