Black mirror and humans vs sexism vs patriarchy (possible spoilers alert)

(23 Posts)
quencher Thu 03-Nov-16 23:14:31

I would say that it deals with ethics between people and future robots. (Featuring stand-alone dramas -- sharp, suspenseful, satirical tales that explore techno-paranoia)

What I find disturbing is that even though the writer looks into the future, the women are still playing roles that they do now in movies and tv shows. The sexism still exist. Patriarchy and sexism still exist in most of it, if not all of the episodes. I have found myself shouting out loud that, "that would not exist, we would not be doing that" and so on.
Most of the men still play roles that put them in power even though the women are in the leading roles.

The luck of awareness from the writers is astonishing. You would have thought that a tv show like "humans" would equal the power dynamic. The female robots have roles and jobs similar to what they have now. One of the main leading actors is a house keeper whose sleeps with her boss. The wife only hired her because she could not cope with house work because the husband was not helping. One had to give, her job as an accomplished lawyer or become a housewife.

These shows give a dim future of what life will be like for women fighting equality. It means that our fight is not noticed and understood by the writers. If they did they would see future woman differently. Not even robots that are built equally and from the same factory. They don't have physical advantages over each other. why should they play different roles?
why do they Impose these views on them? Why can't they see the future differently the same way they see machines taking over, or changing the way we live our lives?

I hope I was not rumbling and not making a lot of sense

YonicProbe Thu 03-Nov-16 23:15:46

I haven't seen these shows but that was a great post.

FookyNell Thu 03-Nov-16 23:17:50

Sorry for useless placemarking but need to read this when less exhausted.

quencher Thu 03-Nov-16 23:21:15

Thank you. I didn't know whether I would get my thought process across properly.

LassWiTheDelicateAir Fri 04-Nov-16 00:06:09

Of the 3 "house" robots I can remember from the first series of Humans 2 were male.

The William Hurt character had a male robot helper and another couple had a male robot helper with whom the wife started having sex.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 00:26:04

Black Mirror looks at a series of corrupt, capitalist dystopian societies. Sexism would be pretty much inevitable in those societies.

I don't think Humans was sexist in the roles played by the robots. The most dominant robot was a female HCP.

Also, Robots is set in the very near future, so of course the kind of robots they create would have gendered behaviour.

The robots that are actually being created in real life right now are often really gendered.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 00:27:10

Sorry, Humans is set in the very near future.

ChocChocPorridge Fri 04-Nov-16 08:01:29

I was actually quite heartened by the latest series of black mirror (well, apart from the subject matters!) - the casting was generally quite equal (now I'm going to have to go back and count) - the supporting roles in particular seemed to have been randomly distributed, and the main roles were full of women - there was even a lesbian love story episode!

VestalVirgin Fri 04-Nov-16 11:13:12

It means that our fight is not noticed and understood by the writers. If they did they would see future woman differently.

I think it is more a case of not wanting things to change. Most Writers Are Male. (I mean, writers who get paid.)
And they find patriarchy very cosy and comfortable.

The Ancillary series by Ann Leckie is a sci fi series where gender does not exist in civilised culture. Those things exist. They are just ... not written by male writers.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 11:41:55

I'm not sure I can explain why I feel so strongly about this.

Black Mirror isn't about imagining any possible future. It's about imagining what the risks are of quite small shifts based on the direction society is going in now.

To write those stories - for example the highly capitalist society with the avatars where the young woman's exploitation ultimately ends up in prostitution, is to acknowledge what kind of societies cause high levels of misogyny and the direction technology is heading in.

Many of the episodes have very feminist themes - the role of technology in domestic violence, homophobia, trolling, imposition of gender roles through social media, transference of public hatred from male killers on to their female non murderer accomplices through the media, increasingly intense pressure to perform gender roles through social media, stalking of women, pornification and commodification of women through mass media.

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 12:41:44

Black Mirror looks at a series of corrupt, capitalist dystopian societies. Sexism would be pretty much inevitable in those societies. Why sexism and homophobia and not negative racism. They have stereotyped the different races that appear a lot though. However, in terms of sex and gender they have not done enough. The first episode of black mirror starts with with kidnap and tour of a woman. The male prime minster is the only person who could save her. The kidnapper was male too.
The episode with child killers, we see the female being toured while we the viewers are told her boyfriend was executed or committed suicide (I don't remember which one of the two it was). They have used the same sexist torture of women as entertainment. This sort of torture is different to those that men received in others episode too.

Take for example the talent show one. The girl doesn't work for points, she is coerced into exposing her herself in front of millions (not only that, she was drugged with the drink given, so we the viewers know that she didn't not make a rational decision), while the male actor gets to work really hard to gain points in order to make a stand about what is wrong with that show and the world. He was offered a better contract. Not sleeping with men or women to make his life better and more interesting but having his own show where he voices his view points to the world via medium similar to YouTube. Why didn't the writer make the actors play opposite roles to what they have been given.

I don't think Humans was sexist in the roles played by the robots. The most dominant robot was a female HCP. Not necessarily true. If you look at the parts the three robots where given it's based of patriarchy and how we view men and women. You can have as much diverse characters in the background. The people that carry the most weight when it comes to influence are those in the lead roles.
Take for example the part of Anita. They have made her very maternal and sensitive. It's what is keeping her close to humans. She practically mothered the children in season one. They have portrayed her as robot with no sense of adventure. Very homely while Leo is the opposite and plays up to similar characteristics male actors often have. He is more adventurous, not only in his in his decision making but where he lives too. Not as safe as Anita's with humans she can trust. His goal isn't just for the family he has come in contact with but the robotic race. He has made his calling to save them from humanity. He is in fact acting like the leader. Telling the others what to do. Being the brave one and offering protection.

You might say that niska does not like humans as much and is adventurous and taking the lead by hacking the human program to release all of the robots.
However, i would actually say that it plays into the same sort of stereotypes we often see about women who break way from the norm. She has been made to be a loner, selfish robot with serious persona. (Resting bitch face).

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 12:49:31

Because playing the opposite roles isn't what is happening with technology and capitalism. They are reinforcing capitalism.

Robots will have gendered behaviour because they are created by humans and will learn through interaction with humans.

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 12:50:56

Almond, cross posted there. I think we are possibly looking at it differently. I would have assumed that the change in roles would make a difference in black mirror and humans. The writer isn't offering solutions and it's not very different from what we have now. The biggest difference between the two is the gadgets, apps and the sort of technology portrayed.

The best way would have been to switch the gender dynamic. Make us question our own actions and not pander to the majority who would not question why a woman is made to do XYZ. By doing that they are reinforcing those actions and characteristics that feminist are trying to change.

I could be wrong in my way of thinking, though.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 12:55:19

There are definitely no solutions offered in Black Mirror. That's what makes it so disturbing. That's why it is called Black Mirror.

I am genuinely alarmed by the way gender is appearing in AI in real life.

You're right about the torture of the woman in white bear being TV torturing a woman yet again.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 12:57:48

I don't think you're wrong. I think you're trying to tease apart a load of issues that are very topical and need exploring. There are probably not well established answers at this point.

jangleduke Fri 04-Nov-16 13:02:30

Almond, your first post was spot on, IMO

Sorry, at work and place-marking so I can read and maybe contribute later

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 13:03:27

Robots will have gendered behaviour because they are created by humans and will learn through interaction with humans but you could program them to act the way you want them to. Like the woman whose boyfriend died. He had enough data for further programming. He wasn't exactly what her boyfriends was. She could have imposed her views on him and changed boyfriend to a better version. At one point after getting really frustrated she even commanded him to hit her. It was great that he responded by asking why? "Did he used to hit you" by which she responded by saying, no. So, why would a sensible woman see hitting as fault a good boy friend would have.

Domestic violence is not good in relationships, yet it was used as a testament of love. To show that he was the man she loved before he died.

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 13:24:43

there was even a lesbian love story episode! That was one of my favourite but it fell flat towards the end when you realise what has happened. They used homophobia as a reason for why she ended up in an accident.
To me, this shows that the writer still envisage homophobia as thing effecting people's lives in the future. The state can allow single sex couples to get married but families had issues with it and where homophobic. Not much change in the future really.
The only place they could have peace and be themselves is in a virtual reality, a place that exist like purgatory. It's neither heaven no hell but better than the world we live. Which means we as humans cannot get rid of such hatred regardless of the law reflecting inclusiveness.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 13:33:01

I don't know enough about how AI works.

In the case with that woman, the robot was isolated, so his behaviour was developed by responding solely to what that woman wanted, based on what she was telling the robot about a man and the material she allowed him access to.

In real life, the only examples I know of are 'female' robots that are being designed to meet men's desires around females, and robots and things developing in the AI direction that learn from interacting with the whole of society. Those are becoming sexist, and highly racist, because they are learning how to interact with humans through interacting with humans.

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 15:54:31

In the case with that woman, the robot was isolated, so his behaviour was developed by responding solely to what that woman wanted, based on what she was telling the robot about a man and the material she allowed him access to. Yes thats true! It does not take away the sexist influence being imposed. The vulnerable women being preyed and lured into something that would help them cope with lose. The thing is, we don't know how many men would have fallen for it because that was not depicted or shown. Is it because they see women as more gullible and easily influenced by others in a cult like system.
Emotionally unable to move forward from the death of a loved one and would do anything to get that back?

The whole experience was emotionally debilitating for her. It was the equivalence of living in an emotionally abusive relationship where you have no will power to leave or detach your self from the relationship. Living with a psychotic person with no social skill because you, as a person has to instil it in them. But because you realise you didn't know the person as well you thought you did, or not every aspect of our lives is on social media. There is a vacuum that leaves the robot inhuman.
Her daughter is emotionally attached and sends her up to the loft to spend time with him. It also, gives the possibility that she is keeping it for the daughter rather than her self. It's not a stretch from lots of women who stay in abusive relationships for the sake of their children. To them, they think they are doing the children a favour, when in actual fact, they are distorting and teaching their children that unhappy relationships are ok.
You could see that she hated going home and into the loft too.

Didn't she try to change herself to fit what he used to like and do?

The male versions of this sort of influence that I have seen, the men tend to do what you would consider to be more macho. The object was money oriented and not emotions.

Shallishanti Fri 04-Nov-16 16:03:59

I haven't seen Black Mirror, but my understanding of Humans is that it's set in an alternative present- all the other technology, the clothes, styles etc seem very contemporary so it makes perfect sense to me that the synth and the human characters would follow current gender expectations. The synths are made for profit, no incentive for them to subvert gender roles, there would not be a market for that.

almondpudding Fri 04-Nov-16 16:06:03

Yes, I thought much of that ending was that she was unable to move on from the relationship with the father of the child, and the technology was preying on that, and it's seen as acceptable for a woman to remain monogamous even after death. It reminded me of the Babadook (horror film).

But if these are little tales of misogyny, are the viewers picking up on that?

So, in the one where the woman ends up in porn, that is seen as tragic, but from the perspective of the main male character.

In the one where the guy is obsessed with rewinding memories to check the woman's sexual history - emotional abuse, it's from the perspective and impact on his character.

In the one where the man's action leads to the death of the little girl, it is about his feelings, not the little girl's.

So while I think it should show a misogynistic future, I don't neccesarily want to see so much of that misogyny to be shown in ways where the woman's suffering is a vehicle for male character development.

quencher Fri 04-Nov-16 17:17:44

Almond, omg you just summarised that better than I did.

The point I was trying to make was if these were alternative present or futuristic us, Why can't the writers view these women differently?

The sexual history one was uncomfortable watching. He pushed and pushed, he was emotionally abusive and while being very needy. The writer makes you have sympathy with the victim who are women then tries to justify the torture by revealing a huge reason towards the end. It's shocking. The people behind the abuse are men and some time a woman as side kick.

The one with Jon humm was disturbing too. The way his character tortured the woman in virtual reality. Exhausted her out until she had no choice but to comply.
The men who used women. When one of them gets killed you as the viewer is meant to have sympathy for the misogynistic murdered man who didn't feel masculine and sociable enough.

I don't neccesarily want to see so much of that misogyny to be shown in ways where the woman's suffering is a vehicle for male character development. This! X more

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