Columnist for Thursday, 2/22 - jims

Robots: Hapless Beasts, Sexual Objects

I was going to start this piece out trying to tie in robots and the topic which Wanton Hussy addressed within her first article, breasts. Being of the male gender, there is much appeal found within the physique of our female counterparts. That being said, writing an article on such would most likely land me in a heap of trouble. It is not that I must be worried of significant others being put out, but the web is a public forum and thus readable by all.

Instead, since I have not the cajones (this week), we will turn to another enjoyable topics, robots. When I think of robots, the first thought that comes to mind is of the movie Heavy Metal. For those not familiar, it was an animated movie from the early 1980s made of of six shorts accompanied by good music somehow threaded together. Among the shorts, probably the most amusing, involves a robot.

In the short, a droid, which has been planted in the Pentagon, is recalled by way of a vacuum tube that manages to also abduct a secretary as well. The robot and his cohorts, two chemically altered aliens, debate the situation of their added crew member -- the abducted, seductively drawn, secretary. Of course, to the chagrin of his cohorts, the robot hits on the secretary. As the story unfolds, the robot, being an upstanding individual, convinces the secretary into having sex. The scene fades and we see the two lovers in bed.

Dowey eyed the girl says, "That was incredible. I've never felt anything like it."

The robot follows with, "I've been programmed to be fully proficient in sexual activities. Wanna go steady?" After many misgivings from the secretary, the robot summarizes her misgivings succinctly when he states, "Earth women who experience sexual ecstasy with mechanical assistance always feel guilty."

Within that simple exchange, we clearly see not only the plight of robots in popular culture but the guilt ridden reliance of women upon mechanical devices. In modern day shows, such as Futurama, robots are used as the joker, as the hapless side kick, getting no respect, yet they embody the traits typically expected of men in an earlier generation -- the domineer, the rebel, the risk taker. There in, we have seen shows where Bender (the robot) not only shares the stereotypical manly vices of drinking, smoking, and acquiring money and goods to provide for his means but he is expected to save the lady as well. For instance, he tries to save the lady robot from falling into a black whole, but in the end, to save his friends, he lets her plummet to her death. In the end, does he get any respect? Of course not and not only that he loses out on a bit of attention for his robochubby.

Outside the realm of TV, we see one of the first modern consumer robots produced by Sony in the Aibo. This expensive little piece of crap is supposed to act as a replacement dog or other pet. If robots would have been given any respect, they could have at least modeled it after something cute and cuddly like a pit bull or a rotweiller. Instead, it resembles something closer to a poodle -- a side kick to be laughed at.

I wouldn't doubt if women played into the design of the Aibo. After all, it is 'cute'. But, guys, we do need to be worried about womens' preoccupation with mechanical devices. The fine engineers at Nokia saw it within themselves to develop a compact cell phone capable of vibrating, a feature useful in movies, meetings, and other places where discretion is required. What is it that crosses the news wire in recent weeks? We don't hear about cell phone users being thanked for having discrete ringers on their phones. Instead, we hear about some woman getting one of these phones stuck up her keaster and needing to go to the hospital to have it removed. Let's just hope that Richard Gere does not hear about this.

All is not lost for robots in modern media. This weeks Buffy, which needed to be viewed for research purposes, does make an exemplary use of robots in the form of a rather attractive robotic girlfriend. Sure, she is a little neurotic, but we can probably blame our friends in Redmond for that. The designer did get one thing right, take a gander at the nice rack present on that model. That robot was not designed with milking in mind.

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