Even though I’ve got a backlog of my own stuff to finish up, like any good blogger I’ll shamelessly steal anybody else’s premise if I think it’ll make for a decent post. So when frequent commenter Xena passed along a link to Tor Book’s 10 Movies That Really Need Robots, I knew I couldn’t let it pass by without putting a little B-Movie Catechism spin on it. You see, while Tor’s list is perfectly fine, it’s just a little too grounded in mainstream sci-fi for my tastes. In my opinion, if you’re gonna make a mash up of chick flicks and robot pics, then you really need to use bots from B-movies in order to get the most bang for your bucks.
STEEL AND LACE MAGNOLIAS
For example, Tor suggests that what the perennial tearjerker Steel Magnolias really needs is a robotic hairdresser in order to provide some comic relief. Which is kind of confusing, because I thought that was the role already played by Darryl Hannah in the movie. No, instead of going that route, what would truly make Steel Magnolias better would be an extra 30 minutes in which Sally Field’s character, unable to cope with the tragic death of her daughter, digs up Julia Roberts’ body and transforms it into an unstoppable, yet still quite fashionable, robot zombie. Sure, she’d have some mild psychotic episodes, but on the plus side, It’s a good bet that nasty old Ouiser would finally learn to keep her mouth shut after Robo-Julia pulled out the power drill.
DELIVER US FROM EVA DESTRUCTION
You know, an urban update on Taming of the Shrew isn’t really a bad idea, but don’t you think it could be just a tad bit better if, in addition to being a complete diva, Eva turned out to be a runaway robot armed with an onboard nuclear warhead that could go off at any moment? Surely Shakespeare would approve.
DEADLY FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
Want to know how to spruce up a tired by-the-numbers outing in which two friends foolishly agree to attempt a sexual relationship with no emotional strings attached? Well, how about making Mila Kunis’ character a robotically resurrected woman with a silicon chip on her shoulder? That way, instead of just getting all mopey when she begins to realize how empty the arrangement is, she could fly into a fit of rage and smash Justin Timberlake’s head in with a basketball. Now that’s entertainment.
THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHERRY 2000
In this version of the Farrley Brothers gross out rom-com, the obsessed stalker hopelessly lovesick Ben Stiller wouldn’t have to bother trying to track down his old high school infatuation. Instead, all he would need to do is run down to the local WalMart and buy his very own sex robot version of her to keep around the house. What? Like that would constitute anymore of an objectification of women than the stuff the original version put on screen? Doubtful.
Actually, you could probably make a good argument that most of the B-movies (and a couple of the mainstream ones) noted above objectify or fetishize women in some way or another. Robot movies just seem to be a natural outlet for bringing up such issues. Cherry 2000, for example, provided a perfect opportunity to discuss the problems that arise when we dehumanize our sexuality. But there are also non-sexual issues that robot movies bring up as well. Both Steel And Lace and Deadly Friend deal with bereaved individuals who take the dead bodies of their loved ones and provide them a pseudo-resurrection through the use of robotics. And unfortunately, while we might understand grief driving someone to commit such an act, as Catholics we can’t really approve of such a desecration of human remains.
The Catechism explains that “the bodies of the dead must be treated with respect and charity, in faith and hope of the Resurrection. The burial of the dead is a corporal work of mercy; it honors the children of God, who are temples of the Holy Spirit. Autopsies can be morally permitted for legal inquests or scientific research. The free gift of organs after death is legitimate and can be meritorious. The Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.” As Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk notes, these teachings are a natural extension of the fact that “Catholic moral thought does not regard body and soul as entirely separate. Rather, it recognizes that human beings are embodied spirits. That means the body is more than just a container for the soul. The Church’s concern for the dignity of the human person extends, therefore, to the body even after the soul is no longer present.” So, based on all that, I think it’s pretty safe to say that stealing the bodies of the dead and grafting robot parts onto them, especially for one’s own emotional benefit rather than that of the deceased, would not be treating human corpses in a manner that affirms their unique dignity as a human person created in the image of God. Just in case any of you were thinking about trying such a thing, now you know.