A Descent into Hatewatching: Episode 5 Westworld “Contrapasso”
Another week, another Westworld rant.
Thank you for checking in to my weekly descent into hatewatching. I am your host, TaLynn Kel and the subject is, once again, Westworld.
In case you didn’t know, I don’t do recaps. I do commentaries and spoilers. Spoilers galore. And this week is no exception. Each week, I end up adjusting how I talk about the show. I’m hoping a formatting theme will emerge, but I haven’t pinned anything down yet.
This show, though. This show is such a roller coaster for me. There are things I absolutely love about it and so many things I hate. There are characters I love and characters I would be totally fine with going away. I understand why they are there, but I don’t care except for how they drive the story. I guess it’s good that they are there, but man…I dunno. This show has a lot of overlapping storylines running that are difficult to untangle and discuss.
As with every episode I’ve watched, I have questions, but before we get to those, I want to discuss my main issues with this show. I’ve waited several episodes to see how POCs are treated before commenting on it. We’re on episode 5 and other than Bernard and Maeve, the POC cast are a few throwaway characters. We’ve seen the Black deputies get murdered repeatedly. The Hispanic character is a criminal, although we are learning that he’s actually a rebel, which makes him a hero. We’ve seen the one Asian character be a timid, frightened man who is harassed by his asshole co-worker. The women of color are prostitutes. The men of color are nameless savages, backup, and victims. Many don’t speak and exist as a looming threat. Or they are the silent, mysterious backdrop.
This is the primary problem with the whole western setting – there are too many stereotypes, too many tropes, too much sexism, too much racism, and too much bullshit that the writers are just allowing to be a very negative setting for the show.
I can’t speak for anyone else, but it would have been cool if the personalities of the two body repair technicians were reversed. Why can’t the Asian male be the sexist asshole? Why can’t both techs be POCs?
Then there’s the use of nudity in the show. For the record, I don’t have a problem with nudity. I like being nude. I wish nudity was less sexualized and criminalized and accepted because it’s not a big deal… until its used as a delineation of power and respect. Clothing represents power in our society and the ability to be clothed is a declaration of superiority, intelligence, and agency. Nudity is weakness, subservience, and submission. It is a form of powerlessness. Even the extent of the nudity represents power. Actors who can negotiate nudity out of their contract have more power than those who can’t. And that is not to say that doing nudity means they are powerless, but it does take power to dictate the terms.
The nudity in Westworld is lopsided as hell. It’s predominantly women and there is a penchant for full frontal, something that for a long time was completely taboo. There has been a minimum of male full frontal nudity in the show; it’s usually just a driveby shot but when they finally give us some full on male nudity, it’s in the most racist fucking way possible in the form of big black dick. For a show that skirted around showing penises, it was shocking to cut to a scene where the penis was almost the main focus. That the man was Black only served to forcibly remind us that Black nudity is public property.
People have written extensive essays on white people’s fascination with Black people’s bodies. There are multiple accounts of Black people being kidnapped and exhibited by zoos and circuses. We’ve all heard the stereotype that Black men are richly endowed. It honestly makes me wonder about the casting call for this part. Was the big black dick the intent or did they just opt to capitalize on a particularly well-endowed actor? They dedicated some of Elsie’s dialogue to it, just in case you missed the big black penis on the screen. Westworldwriters, your racism is showing. Not that it wasn’t before. Believe me, I notice how often we see Thandi Newton’s nude body versus Evan Rachel Wood. These types of decisions drive home the underlying white patriarchal supremacist theme of the show. Westworld writers, directors, producers, and casting crew, you need to fix your shit.
It is no secret that Maeve is my favorite character. I LOVE her. She is a fighter. She is aware. She isn’t afraid to seek answers. I love it. If she wasn’t so damn interesting, I would have stopped watching this episode last week. She is disruptive, my favorite kind of person. If this show fucks around and doesn’t show her this week, I’m gonna be pissed. Her waking up at the end was everything I wanted to see and now I am somewhat hooked in seeing what happens next.
I was left with some big questions this episode.
- Is Delores speaking aloud when she hears Arnold? In episode 3, the Host they retired for going off loop clearly spoke aloud to Arnold. Is Delores doing the same thing?
- Lawrence, also known as El Lizo, was with the Man in Black up until he murdered him, after which he was in Pariah where he met the investors and Delores. It make me wonder how they would have merged him into the narrative had the Man in Black not killed him.
- Dr. Ford and Delores are not friends. She lied to him. Hides things from him. And he suspects her. But what is it he suspects her of being a part of?
- How are the Hosts made? What par of them is AI? Just the brain? How are they so reparable if they are flesh, blood, and bone like the Man in Black said? How are they preserved?
So, much to my combined joy and sadness, I’m still watching but the clock is ticking.