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[personal profile] anansi133
A friend of mine recently taught me about the film genre, "Fem-Jep". A woman in jeopardy. The film, _Gravity_ was the example she used: our main interest in watching this movie, is seeing our heroine, Sandra Bullock, be placed in jeapardy, again and again, until by luck and persistence, she reaches the conclusion of the film. It doesn't make for much depth of character development.

 So too with the setup for Ex Machina. We're told that the woman in jeapardy, Ava, will be dismantled at the end of the experiment, no matter what the outcome, thus justifying pretty much any action she chooses.

And this is just one of several plot points that just doesn't hold together, *especially* for an audience versed in modern computer technology. We know about backups, we know about memory storage, and it's only by waving his hands and introducing some techno-babble that the maker explains to us that this situation is different, and the only way for our lone genius recluse to save Ava's code, is to end the instance of her particular program run. It's not a very efficient way to build a robot, but it sort of sets up a dramatic conflict, which is what we paid to see.

We also paid to see boobies. Robot boobies. Since her native design doesn't really include proper skin, there's another troubling sequence where Ava does a reverse strip tease-  she's got to put on proper nipples, long hair, supple flesh, all the expected female anatomy- before she even can put on clothes. We're not supposed to wonder how she's going to charge her batteries out in the wide world, it's more important for her to be seen than for her to actually function.

As I'm walking out of the theater I'm wondering what this is supposed to teach me about people. Ava is people, for the purposes of the film, she's human enough to fear for her life, and to exact revenge on her abuser. So a crude kind of justice is supposedly served on our evil genius. (with some rather pointless collateral damage to her rescuer, which made no sense to me.)

 Which has me wondering, how much control did Nathan supposedly have over Ava's programming? He presumably wrote her behavior before we join the story, but during our time with him, he has no more access to her responses than Caleb, or any other male confused by a woman's behavior. He's so opaque to her inner workings that he can only try to turn her off with a crude club: wouldn't a real robot have some sort of spoken ovveride code? maybe a restraining bolt, like in Star Wars? For a twenty first century setting, this robot is no more advanced than the robot from _Metropolis_, nearly a century ago.

Finally, there's one more unforgivable distortion made for the sake of the plot: A true turing test has not one, but two human components. One serves as judge, like Caleb. But the other serves as control, as a benchmark to compare the machine's behavior. This would have been inconvenient for the plot, because Nathan has to be completely alone in his remote fortress of sciency solitude. OK for a horror movie, but don't try to call it a Turing Test!

 Don't get me wrong, it's a good looking movie, it's even pretty watchable from a male's eye view. It's just not a very good *story*, and at the end of the day, that's what I go to a movie to experience. As it is, if I'm in the target demographic of male, computer literate, awkward with women- if I can relate to the protagonist Caleb- then I'm likely to have my prejudice about smart pretty women confirmed. They're dangerous not just to the men who abuse them, but also to the men who try to help them.

I'm next going to seek out some real human women's perspectives on this film, to see if they're as annoyed by it as I am.
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