Wednesday, March 2, 2011

With a Cherry 2000 on top

Silly poster! Melanie Griffith does not actually play Cherry 2000
Manosphere dudes, especially those waiting impatiently for the day when sexbots replace women,  could actually learn a thing or two from one of my favorite dumb 1980s films, Cherry 2000, which I happened to catch (for about the third or fourth time) the other night.

The film, set in a vaguely postapocalptic future, offers an update of sorts to a very old story: Boy meets robogirl. Boy has sex with robogirl in a puddle of water. Boy loses robogirl when her circuits short out because they're having sex in a puddle of water. Boy hires bounty hunter Melanie Griffith to escort him into the lawless Sector 7 to find him a replacement for his robogirl because her model (the Cherry 2000) has been discontinued.  Shit happens. Stuff blows up. Melanie Griffith kicks ass, pouts, and kicks ass again.

The movie sets up a stark contrast between the infinitely pliable and submissive Cherry 2000 sexbot and actual not-so-pliable women.  In one early scene, intended as something of a satire of the dating scene at the time, our hero and some of his pals go to a singles bar -- where, if they decide they want to get with a sexy human lady, they need to negotiate the terms of the sexual encounter with her and her lawyer, and fill out the appropriate paperwork.

We get to listen in on a couple such negotiations; the women in question are all portrayed as, er, pretty touch negotiators -- that is, bitches. One of the lawyers is portrayed by a young, pre-Matrix, Laurence Fishburne. At this point, I suspect most woman-hating, Matrix-loving manosphere dudes watching the film will jizz. in. their pants.

In fact, we get to see a lot of loud and obstreperous women in the film. In one memorable scene, a grizzled old junkyard owner asks his ornery young assistant for a favor:

GRIZZLED OLD COOT: Randa is going to fix us lunch, ain't you, Randa?

RANDA: [Indignantly] No. 

COOT: Well, then, you can just go shit in your hat.

Randa does not in fact fix anyone anything. Manosphere dudes will probably be happy to learn that later in the film -- SPOILER ALERT! -- she's shot in the head at point-blank range.

Anyway, long story short: after (barely) surviving assorted assaults from Sector 7 baddies with the invaluable assistance of the ornery Melanie Griffith, our hero is forced to choose between saving her or the robogal he's devoted the whole movie to finding. Naturally, being a robot-loving idiot, he chooses Cherry 2000 -- then, after heading off with her in tow, he realizes that she's sort of a simpering moron, and goes back to rescue the real woman. Cue happy ending.  (Well, happy for everyone except for sexbot-coveting manosphere dudes watching the film, who will probably rush off to their favorite MGTOW forum to denounce the filmmakers as evil manginas.)

The moral of the story? Even the complete idiots who made this incredibly stupid movie realized that real women -- with opinions and ideas of their own -- are preferable to adoring sexbots.

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19 comments:

  1. I love the fact that the second person credited on IMDB is "glory hole clerk."

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha Even though it is just an alphabetical listing, that is still hilarious!

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  2. Post-apocalypse is a good opportunity for society to hit the reset button on patriarchy. Sadly, while post-apocalyptic literature is a guilty pleasure of mine, I can't deny that most of it, being written by men, tends to carry its patriarchal assumptions into the post-apocalypse with it.

    This movie sounds fun. :P

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  3. We should start a book club with the regulars.

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  4. One of my favorite genres of anything is post-apocalypse stuff. Especially feminist post-apocalypse stuff. I blame the Tank Girl movie for this.*

    *I will defend this movie to my death.

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  5. Elizabeth, also, Laurence Fishburne's character is "Glu Glu Lawyer." (Glu Glu is the name of the singles bar.)

    I'm guessing he doesn't mention this role on his resume.

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  6. johnnykaje: I love feminist sci-fi so much. But like virtually all interactions of feminism and popular culture, feminist sci-fi has sort of fallen away in the past two or three decades. Oh how I miss the heyday of Ursula K. LeGuin and Marge Piercy.

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  7. @ Trip:

    In my experience with nerdery, it seems that sf in general has fallen by the wayside. There's still a market for it, to be sure, but it seems like all the big authors shifted from being sf (Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke) to being fantasy (Martin, Goodkind & Jordan) (say what you will about those last two, their books still sell).

    So I rather think that the decline in feminist sf can be tied more to the decline in sf in general. You can find some feminist sf in the urban fantasy section - I particularly like Lilith Saintcrow, and Jim Butcher to an extent (his main character's a dude, but all his female characters are fairly well fleshed out, and he gets better at it as he goes).

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  8. While you're right, Victoria, I mean that even within the world of sci-fi books, feminism has fallen out of favor. In fact, I've been noting with no small amount of dismay a strong conservative trend in American sci-fi since the late 80s. I'm actually considering starting a web-based publication to fight the trend by soliciting stories written in the tradition of authors like LeGuin.

    British sci-fi - and to a lesser extent Australian - are thankfully exempt from American sci-fi's current conservative streak, but they don't seem to want to grapple with social issues the same way the Silver Age authors did.

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  9. I would totally jump on that bus, Trip.

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  10. I'll assume Randa is a feminst and find me a copy of this film.

    Random Brother

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  11. Frankly, i'm awaiting the arrival of sexbots too. Anything that will get loser misogynist genes out of the gene pool is a good thing. It cleans the gene pool AND spares actual women from having to deal with their toxic company. It's a lose-win.

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  12. Here, check this hate letter received by Dan Pizzaro out:

    http://www.bizarrocomics.com/?p=1151

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  13. triplanetary, such publications already exist. Aqueduct Press (edited by L. Timmel Duchamp) is the most obvious example, putting out award-winning material with an explicitly feminist slant. In short fiction, Strange Horizons and Expanded Horizons include as part of their projects publishing work from authors that reflect diverse perspectives, including feminist perspectives, but also concentrating on the intersections of oppression. Smaller magazines, like Lorelei Signal, have what appears to be a more traditional Marion Zimmer Bradley slant.

    There are a number of currently or recently working feminist authors who are at least as good as LeGuin -- Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, L. Timmel Duchamp, Nicola Griffith, Gwyneth Jones, Kij Johnson, Maureen McHugh, Ellen Klages, Geoff Ryman, to name only a few award-winning authors. Other working feminist science fiction and fantasy authors, off the top of my head: Vandana Singh, Vylar Kaftan, Ann Leckie, Shweta Narayan, An Owomoyela, Keyan Bowes, Ruth Nestvold, Cat Rambo, Mary Robinette Kowal, Mary Hobson, Maria Deira, Keffy Kehrli, Alice Liu, Megan McCarron, Pearl North (aka Anne Harris), Barry Deutsh.

    Giganotosaurus, a recently opened online magazine specializing in longer stories, has put out at least two pieces of strong feminist science fiction in the five months during which it's been in operation.

    Ruth Nestvold's The Bleeding and the Bloodless is a traditional sci-fi tale in the LeGuin mode, reminiscent of her earlier (Nebula nominated) Looking through Lace.

    This month's offering, Vylar Kaftan's Hero-Mother is a visceral, disturbing, and tightly written piece in the mode of James Tiptree that I highly recommend.

    Not that I'm opposed to new venues, but the work is definitely out there.

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  14. Those interested in supporting diversity and progressive politics in science fiction may also be interested in:

    Broad Universe - an international non-profit organization dedicated to promoting, encouraging, honoring, and celebrating women writers and editors in science fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative genres.

    The Carl Brandon Society - an organization to help build further awareness of race and ethnicity in speculative literature and related fields

    and in a less genre-focused way, The Lambda Literary Foundation which - nurtures, celebrates, and preserves LGBT literature through programs that honor excellence, promote visibility and encourage development of emerging writers.

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  15. Rachel, nice!

    There's also the Octavia Butler scholarship:
    http://www.carlbrandon.org/butlerscholarship/

    It enables writers of color to attend the Clarion writing workshop where she got her start.

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  16. Rachel: thanks for the references. I know some of the authors you named, but I haven't heard of any of the publications. I'll definitely be checking them out.

    I readily admit that my familiarity with contemporary sci-fi comes mostly from off-the-shelf novels, along with the occasional issue of Analog and Asimov's.

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  17. Hi triplanetary, fair enough—I think most people's interaction with SF is probably through off-the-shelf novels. You can't always pull Aqueduct Press's novels off the shelf at providers like B&N (although sometimes you can), but they're available through Amazon, and are explicitly involved in maintaining (and transforming where appropriate) the narrative threads begun by Ursula LeGuin, James Tiptree, etc. There's a wealth of material there which isn't always finding homes with more traditional publishers.

    A few other suggestions if you're looking for feminist genre material, and then I'll do what I probably should have done earlier and hush:

    If I can say so without crossing the line into self-promotion… you might also be interested in checking out this year's Nebula nominees. According to some back-of-the-napkin calculations I did a few days ago, the ballot is 56% female and 18-25% poc (some of the authors' identifications are conflicted) and reflects a lot more diversity in points of view than previous years.

    Some of the nominated works that come to mind that explicitly deal with gender issues:

    Kij Johnson's Ponies

    Shweta Narayan's "Pishaach" and Chris Barzak's "Map of Seventeen," both in the Datlow anthology BEASTLY BRIDE (unfortunately not available online)

    Nnedi Okorafor's WHO FEARS DEATH

    N. K. Jemisin's THE HUNDRED THOUSAND KINGDOMS

    Barry Deutsch's HEREVILLE: HOW MIRKA GOT HER SWORD

    Pearl North's THE BOY FROM ILLYSES

    And something I love which didn't make the ballot:

    Nina Allen's Flying in the Face of God which recasts the conflict between those who go and those who are left behind in an era of space travel.

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  18. I just found a book called A Misogynist's Source Book which apparently is a collection of historical quotes mocking misogynistic men. Should be fun.

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