Robots and Sunglasses

In which I shamelessly post in the style of This Recording….

I was watching Westworld (1973) a few weeks ago and a couple of images at the beginning of the movie struck me.

Obviously, they’re the same guy/robot and the implication is that they’re both robot pilots guiding the unsuspecting tourists to their doom at the hands of disgruntled robots. Even though Steve Vai believes his guitar is his personal window to his soul, the Hollywood tradition is that robots wear sunglasses to hide their eyes because eyes are the windows to the soul — and robots and governors don’t have one.

When Yul Brynner shows up in Westworld, he has creepy eyes with movie lights in them which is to say, this post is sort of about robot mythmaking. Oddly enough, in the movie, you differentiate the robots from humans by looking at their hands, not by the movie lights in their eyes.

(I was saddened when I realized that Yul Brynner had been reduced to a robot cowboy signalling the end of the Hollywood Western. The genre was briefly revived when Lawrence Kasdan did Silverado (1985) and then Clint Eastwood did Unforgiven (1992). Let’s face it: the genre will live on with a respirator the same way Elvis does).

People wear sunglasses in public, on the subway, and when they’re playing poker because they don’t want you to see their souls or their wandering eyes. Similarly, femme fatales and French film directors have souls of dubious provenance. Tut alors! They’re both (somewhat) French!

Celebrities wear the sunglasses and take their endorsements because even Republicans know that celebrities don’t have souls. And the whole history of sunglasses is wrapped up in celebrity culture and power culture. You can be an instant rock star by popping ’em on!

I’ve recently watched the first two seasons of the newer Battlestar Galactica. The show has a giant fanbase and a lot has been written about it already but maybe…. not…. I’m the first to observe that the robots … well, “skin job robots” … don’t wear sunglasses because they have souls. The best mindwarp of the show is that the “skin jobs” are made by the “Danger Will Robinson” Robby Robots. Thank goodness.

There’s an old science fiction book the Jesuits made me read called A Canticle for Leibowitz where humanity is doomed to reach The Nuclear Age, destroy itself, then evolve back up into another Nuclear Age, ad infinitum. The stories and the sunglasses just keep coming, don’t they? Here’s me editing this post….

Let’s watch a robot video. Robot video looker….

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