As everyone in America knows, last Thursday was Valentine's Day, and all the lonely people in the world were forced to reconsider their standards when it comes to romance. Coincidentally or not, we posted a video earlier last week for Destructo's "Technology" which contains a disturbing visual of a female robot who learns to love her owner after initially considering herself incapable of such an emotion. Part of what makes all of this so interesting is that a similar video was made by Make The Girl Dance for their song "Broken Toy Boy" a year earlier with the inverse premise. In that video, it's a female who goes online in search of a robotic partner. Regardless of whether or not Destructo and Make The Girl Dance were intending to provoke discussion when they crafted the imagery, it's certainly on the table now.
First lets take a look at these two clips:
Make The Girl Dance: "Broken Toy Boy"
The trope of a robo-lover is in no way new. That's not what makes the concepts presented in these videos so revolutionary. In fact, as stand alone clips, they certainly provoke some thought, but the flaws of the human character aren't illuminated until they are placed side by side. Both of these videos seem to interrogate gender roles in some capacity, in addition to posing questions concerning the state of human emotion.
One of the most notable differences in the videos is the way that the male and female robots interact with their human counterparts. The male robots in the "Broken Toy Boy" clip are inactive and immobile. They are incapable of movement, speech, and do not respond to touch. Their sexy female owner fails to arouse them despite her best attempts. In many respects, they are essentially useless. It could be safe to say that the video symbolically represents how women view the male celebrity. Problem is: it could also be safe to say that the video symbolically represents how women view men in general. Perhaps the most telling moment in the video is the lifeless robo-baby the woman ends up with. After the birth, she throws her "toy boys" in the trash and walks away with her infant. Herein lies the suggestion that men are detached and uninvolved in the child raising process. It could also be inferred that the woman has no use for the men beyond this point. I think the fact that the baby is motionless is also telling. The infant is in effect a blank slate for the mother to project on her own worldviews and interests.
In contrast to this, the "Technology" video begins with an emo guy who clearly had no idea his girlfriend was an unfeeling robot the entire time. She hopes that the announcement will not change anything about their relationship, even though it clearly will. The guy proceeds to treat his robo-lover like absolute garbage as he methodically uses her for sexual favors and forces her to clean his dishes. After the emo guy passionately sleeps with another human being, jealousy kicks in for the fem-bot. When she tells him she loves him, the guy wraps the poor robot up and drops her off at the factory with a "Defective" note attached. This could be an obvious statement concerning men and attachment issues, but I think it goes much deeper than that. Although the relationship may have been normal prior to her big reveal, the change that takes place afterwards becomes even more potent. The video also questions whether the robot would have felt any emotion if the guy had not been promiscuous. It's pretty clear that there is a lingering suspicion that her love is not genuine. On the other side of the coin, the robot was the object of his desire when she was obedient and hassle-free. On this foundation, the entire meaning of their relationship collapses.
When the videos are examined side by side, it becomes evident that their messages are eerily similar. Both men and women are criticized simultaneously, albeit for different reasons. In any case, it's pretty safe to say human beings totally suck. In the search for an ideal partner, many of us are willing to sacrifice the notion that we are imperfect ourselves. Often, character nuances and personality quirks are the only things that separate people from becoming a machine. We use our romantic partners for whatever reason we see fit. The very essence of love gets lost when we act in such a analytical way. In the constant search for perfection in romance, we constantly objectify others and pass judgment on the smallest details. It's time to start lovin' no matter what, because as Daft Punk infamously quipped, we are "Human After All."