Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.
I’m currently watching Westworld, described in its Wikipedia entry as
an American science fiction thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy for HBO,based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by American novelist Michael Crichton.
The series takes place in fictional Westworld, a technologically advanced, Western-themed amusement park populated completely by synthetic androids dubbed “Hosts”, who cater to high paying visitors dubbed “Newcomers”, also known as “Guests”, who can do what they wish within the park without fear of retaliation from the Hosts.
According to a THV11 post dated 30 July 2016,
The 10-episode first season … explores artificial consciousness, memory, identity and sin via interactions between lifelike “hosts” and guests acting out fantasy storylines, many of them oriented toward sex and violence.
The drama looks at the increasingly narrow divide between human life and artificial consciousness, which is being developed in the real world, executive producer Lisa Joy said. “It’s questioning: ‘Where does life begin?’ ” she said. “It’s a constant examination of that line. Where does consciousness begin and end?”
A post on Alternet dated June 21 2016 states that,
Adopting a Counter-Racist / decolonial perspective readily allows for ‘de-coded’ consideration of the ‘dark colonial underside’ of this (post-)modern narrative, viz.
- Westworld – colonial modernity / the colonial matrix of power / White Supremacy (Racism).
- Guests – settlers / colonizers / White Supremacists (Racists).
- Hosts – indigenes / colonized / non-white VoRs (Victims of Racism / White Supremacy).
- Hosts are synthetic androids – the ontology (being, what-ness) of the colonized is an ‘othering’ construction of, by and for the colonizer.
- Guests can act without fear of retaliation from the Hosts within (Westworld) ‘the park’ – White Supremacists (Racists) dominate all non-white people / VoRs under contemporary conditions of global White Supremacy (Racism).
- Host consciousness is artificial consciousness – non-white people function according to a (DuBoisian) double consciousness, if not a (Marxian) false consciousness.
- Memory, identity and sin – non-white / VoR experience of the violence of White Supremacy (Racism) / colonial modernity is traumatic, possibly engendering complex feelings of guilt in relation to complicity with / non-resistance to WSR, and marked by an ongoing legacy / memory situation in which a subordinate positionality / identity is reproduced.
- Hosts are lifelike – insofar as hosts are slaves, their social life is, in fact, best characterised as a condition of social death, i.e. hosts occupy a condition between life and death which means that their mode of living is not a form of life, but rather, lifelike.
- Westworld guests act out fantasies driven by sex and violence – Colonial modernity / White Supremacy (Racism) defines a ‘war’ situation driven by the desire to dominate and expressed through the violent creation of a (West)world structured as an exclusionary hierarchy. White Supremacy (Racism) uses sex, the second most powerful (human) driving force in the known universe, to establish, maintain, exapnd and refine its sphere of dominance.
- Narrow divide – White Supremacy (Racism) is threatened by (1) the possibility of non-white people ‘passing’ as white people, and (2) the fact that the global ‘colour line’ of colonial modernity / Eurocentrism, as a contingent historical construction, is open to erasure / dismantlement / de-construction / replacement.
The unfolding narrative of what appears to be a ‘computer virus’ / ‘meme’ – “these violent delights have violent ends” – spreading (among Hosts) memories of violence / violation of Hosts by Guests, and the mounting threat this poses to both Guests and the corporate entity behind ‘the park’ (Westworld), speaks to perennial White Supremacist (Racist) concerns about – if not fears of – reprisal expressed so clearly by Lothrop Stoddard in his classic work, The Rising Tides of Color Against White World Supremacy (1920), not to mention Ronald Segal’s more recent The Race War (1967).
It interesting to note that a sequel to the 1973 film, Futureworld (1976) was made in followed by a short-lived 190s television series entitled Beyond Westworld, both of which revolve around an attempt to stop an evil scientist using robots / androids to take over the world. What might this mean in terms of a Counter-Racist / decolonial analysis? Apart from further exploring the theme of ‘passing’, does it further point to the expansion and refinement of White Supremacy (Racism) – captured in the use of the word ‘Beyond’ in the title – via non-white proxies?
In this connection, interested readers might want to check out the following posts: