M3GAN: Some Impressions

For the first time in seemingly eons–and probably against my better judgment–I went to the theatre, and for the sole purpose of seeing the film M3GAN, which, to me, is a cross between the 2019 Child’s Play reboot and Frankenstein, with robotics and artificial intelligence. And, much like my post on Child’s Play, there is some social commentary.

Spoilers ahead

I won’t talk too much about the storyline or the plot of the movie, but I want to comment on some scenes. Gemma, who works for a toy company, is working on the prototype for M3GAN (Model 3 Generative Android) while working on a toy her boss, David, told her to work on. David sees the android under construction in Gemma’s workshop at the company headquarters; Gemma and her team demonstrate what the android can do, but it malfunctions, resulting in David telling Gemma to put it on the shelf and work on the project he assigned her.

Meanwhile, Gemma’s sister and her husband die in a car crash, and Gemma is stuck taking care of their daughter, Cady. After seeing Cady interact with Bruce, Gemma’s previous robotics project, Gemma is inspired to finish M3GAN. She introduces M3GAN and Cady, and Cady is immediately taken with the android. Gemma and her team show M3GAN–this time interacting with Cady–and David, though skeptical at first, is so impressed he wants Gemma to show M3GAN to investors and other higher-ups. All the while, Cady continues to interact with M3GAN, who demonstrates more and more human qualities, while essentially acting as a substitute parent as well as friend for Cady.

But it isn’t long before M3GAN shows her dark side. You see, Gemma has a next-door neighbour, Celia, who she isn’t too fond of, who has a dog, Dewey, who keeps crawling through a hole in the fence between their yards and getting into Gemma’s yard. Well, one night, after he injures Cady, Dewey disappears, and a cop shows up on Gemma’s front stoop asking her about Dewey’s whereabouts. Later, when Cady attends an alternative school–bringing M3GAN with her–she is bullied by a boy named Brandon (whose mother is clearly in denial about what he’s really like), and M3GAN arrives on the scene to save Cady and dispose of Brandon–though a motorized vehicle makes it look like he died by accident. It is after Brandon’s death that Gemma realizes there is something wrong with M3GAN, and takes her back to her workshop to try and fix her–especially seeing as M3GAN’s launch is that night, as per David. But M3GAN goes haywire, and goes on a killing spree before returning to Gemma’s home and fighting with Gemma and Cady, and, Gemma realizes she has to destroy her own creation.

The first thought that entered my head as I watched this film was the question of what would have happened if Gemma had listened to David and put M3GAN aside. Now I’m wondering if Gemma had given herself and her team enough time to work out all the kinks in M3GAN before allowing David and the investors to put her on the market–as well as if there’s any such thing as ‘more human than human.’ Also, I wonder if it’s possible for manmade mechanical objects to deliberately take on lives of their own. I’m no scientist or robotics expert, but these questions enter my head whenever I take in stories like M3GAN. From where I’m sitting now, M3GAN is yet another cautionary tale about over-dependence on technology, and–much like the Child’s Play reboot–a commentary on how technology and artificial intelligence are double-edged swords.

All of that said, M3GAN was an enjoyable film, and worth every nickel I spent to see it–and in the theatre.


Ecofeminism: My Perspective

It’s been a long time coming, but here’s my take on ecofeminism.

It is possible to be an ecofeminist and to be scientifically literate, have thoughts grounded in reality, and not buy into old ideas of gender. But that’s not all that’s needed to improve ecofeminism, and the way it’s perceived: We need to ditch essentialist, and black-and-white, thinking, while recognizing the difference between recognizing nuance and making arguments to moderation; we need to do away with logical fallacies, such as the appeal to ‘ancient wisdom’, and to start making actual arguments; and we need to stop romanticizing ‘traditional’ ways of doing things–in any area of the world–while demonizing modern conveniences such as machines, and recognize the benefits science and technology provide, while understanding science and technology are merely tools.

As far as I’m concerned, the world needs an ecofeminism whose proponents understand how science and technology work and don’t subscribe to, or promote, mysticism, but also understand science and technology have to go hand-in-hand with political will and action, businesses modifying their model (profit-making) and people, especially those with privilege, changing our attitudes and behaviours. We also need to change the image the public has of ecofeminists and others who want to change the status quo, chiefly to make these movements more inclusive to everyone.

All My Thoughts on Globalization

Talk on this subject has been dormant within the circles I move in here in Vancouver, but I’m sure the topic will come up again before long–this is Vancouver, after all, and people here who style themselves activists have a real bone to pick with globalization–or, rather, what they think it is. So, before that happens, I’ll tell you all my thoughts (right now) on globalization.

Wikipedia defines globalization as ‘the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views (sic), products, ideas, and other aspects of culture.’ This integration and interchange has occurred for thousands of years, at least since the Middle Ages, if not earlier. Sure, much of globalization from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century manifested in the form of imperialism, but discoveries were made and exchanges took place. Now, in the age of air travel and the Internet, globalization is inevitable. Thanks to today’s technology and communications infrastructure, the world is growing increasingly interconnected and pluralistic. It even helps with activism, by enabling activists to coordinate their activities via the Internet–the 1999 protest against the World Trade Organization in Seattle, for instance.

Now I have to address a couple of major issues I have with those who bash globalization: first, the way they freak out when they see anyone in a different nation (especially if said nation is underdeveloped) wearing, say, a Roots or Abercrombie and Fitch T-shirt (with or without traditional garb) while themselves enjoying things such as sushi, yoga, or anime in their own backyards–apparently not realizing they can’t have their cake and eat it, too–and talk about the concept of globalization as if it’s not a system of give and take–in effect, confusing, and conflating, the definitions of globalization and imperialism, the latter of which is what they’re really against. The thing is, ‘globalization’ and ‘imperialism’ are not synonyms. Granted, globalization can be done better, by acknowledging power dynamics between nations and ensuring more developed nations don’t take advantage of less developed nations; however, the attitude of ‘what’s best for business’ being the highest priority, rather than globalization, has wreaked ecological, economic, social, and other forms of havoc. P.S.: Complaints about people in different nations wearing, eating, or using, etc. items made by North American, European, etc. companies just create a tempest in a teapot.

I’m all for calling out injustice and inequality. But let’s make sure we learn the definitions of the words we use, and stick to the real issues.