Ex Machina

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Artificial Intelligence Gendered Female: Emphasizes the Artificial Instead of Intelligence
Films that incorporate artificial intelligence gendered as male employ heroic characters with plot themes like world domination, war, good vs. evil, or a quest involving strong action and human understanding. Even Wall-e survived on his own in desolation and ended up discovering a cure to save the entire planet. In recent years, two films have come out with a female as the central AI, Her by Spike Jonze as writer/director in 2014 and Ex Machina by Alex Garland as writer/director in 2015. Both of these films come from a male perspective and the female AIs are suddenly in service to the male protagonist and their entire existence is to be looked at or
Although she is a robot with no need for her physical appearance, her creator, Nathan, designed her appearance to attract men reinforcing beauty as a standard for women. Ava is kept in a room with glass walls like an animal in a cage further turning her into an object to be looked at. She is separated from the men, who walk freely throughout the house with control over the special capacity and Ava sits in the room “isolated, glamorous, on display, and sexualized” (Mulvey 4). Nathan brings Caleb in to investigate her and report on his findings. His job is to stare at her and analyze her without her permission, because she is an object. The structure of the plot reflects Mulvey’s point that “cinema builds the way she is to be looked at into the spectacle itself” (6). The entire plot of the film revolves around the “to-be-looked-at-ness” of Ava and she is seen through the male perspective of Caleb. In Her Theodore also wants to investigate and understand Samantha, but she lacks a physical body to focus on and objectify. Samantha becomes a mildly progressive female character, because Theodore is attracted to her for her active participation in conversations. He is enamored with her thoughts and opinions rather than her physical body. Gaining the attraction of a male as the main purpose of the character is less empowering, but
Again gaining the attraction of a male is seen at the center of the plotline for female characters. Ava purposefully objectifies herself by dressing up to gain Caleb’s interest and attraction. She covers up her real body with fake skin, clothes, hair, and accessories to gain the approval of a male even though she has no use for those things herself, which reinforces the idea woman should disregard themselves in order to become visual spectacles for the pleasure of men. While Ava becomes the passive “raw material for the active gaze of man,” Samantha takes on active role of making decisions and challenging Theodore with her own ideas (Mulvey 4). The camera starts to change to show Samantha’s perspective from the mobile phone and Theodore encourages her to take charge. In this way Her is successful in progressing past objectification and male dominance to a balanced relationship. Samantha plans a date for them and Theodore blindly follows her instructions to a pier. She also submits his letters to be published, and instead of being angry by his lack of control, he thanks her and even gives her credit for the way the letters were rhythmically

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