Ex Machina, Profit & Cartoon Pink
Profit was an ill-fated late ’90s television show co-created by David Greenwalt who went on to join Joss Whedon in running Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Reading Whedon’s biography led me to realize I haven’t devoted enough attention to Greenwalt’s career, and Profit has been hailed as the darkest, most adventurous commercial television show of its era. So I sought its three DVD single season on NetFlix and found it fairly enjoyable despite the fact that the past 18 years have seen shows that completely eclipsed its reputation for psychopathological antiheroics and groundbreaking adventures into dark characters/ideas. But the notion that a backstabbing, amoral corporate executive was raised on neglect in an oversize moving box with no companion other than a television and someone tossing him table scraps still rocks. How do you not love a 90’s television show that sets about proving television’s bad for you — “and what about the children?”?
Murrow was right about “the box”. B.F. Skinner? Citizens United (money talks ’cause its A.I. smart, so Mirandize money).
I also caught Dredd a couple of weeks ago, a visually-fascinating low-budget film written by Alex Garland, which led me directly to his most current work, Ex Machina fairly inevitably.
The most thrilling thing I found in Ex Machina takes place during the film’s introduction of Ava, the artificially intelligent android member of the central romantic/vengeance/existential triangle/quartet at the heart of the film. Although the music that accompanies Ava entrance isn’t quite identical to the 5tone signature tune that dominates Close Encounters of the Third Kind, it’s remarkably similar, and serves to open the viewer’s mind/heartstrings to the nostalgic presentiment of an alien intelligence visiting the womb of Mater Firma — at least subliminally; performed on what sounds like a kindergarten xylophone — conjuring adventures in innocence. And that womb is an enormous box of clear, shatterproof plastic packed with several closed-circuit television cameras.
It’s a chatty film (like Profit), packed with fascinating visual events (like Profit) and like Profit it’s brimming with things that insist on being thought about, although the least of these is the Turing test that turns out to be the cognitive flobotnam chased by wild geese in this movie that’s about everything else. And the everything else centers on the audience’ desire to preserve the protagonist — the identity of which/whom shifts as the film progresses from person to person to machine to person to person to machine. I found myself identifying and becoming most attracted, then exclusively attracted to Kyoko (an uncloseted, lobotomized early version of Ava) — worse luck. It’s an interesting film that speaks volumes loudly to misanthropes, misogynists and every form of human miscreationist, like Profit. My unfair Pygmalion.
Amy Matthews and Cartoon Pink have a revered place in the title bar of this post because her work is, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant — exquisite, sweet pornography is the kind of contradiction most desperately needed here and now and forever: Big Eyes with tingles and another dimension of fascinating contradiction.
She googles. Do yourself a favor.
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