Ok, so I have seen the first two shows in the new hit series, “Westworld,” by HBO. This blog contains information about the plot, so if you are interested in watching the show, please make note of this. I have basically responded to the simple premise, so there are not as many spoilers as you would think. Westworld caused a neurotic crying response to my mother and a full night of nightmares that I was back in the church. When I woke up and ate copious amounts of sugar, coffee on its way, I clearly understood why.
The show’s premise is that there is an adult play land where anyone can pay to come and interact with regenerative robots. These robots can be killed, raped, beaten, and ill-used and they are sewn up, memory erased, and the very next day, they are back to the way they were before the visitor destroyed them. If the visitor wants to, he or she can destroy the robot all over again. All along, the managers of the park program and reprogram the robots to have certain personality traits and to behave in prescribed and scripted ways. One series of reprogramming scenes undid me. There is a character named Maeve from England. She is a robot programmed to be an English woman who immigrated to the US and became a prostitute, a madam as well as continuing to work. However, the people who run the park started to notice that she wasn’t being hired out anymore. They were quite perplexed because she is exotic with her accent, her biracial looks, and her fiery personality. In the first reprogramming session, they “up her aggression by 20%.” When she is placed back in the park, she says her lines with a forcefulness that is creepy. Nobody hires her. Then another programmer takes the robot back and reprograms her without “all that aggression and this time with emotional intuition upped 1.5%.” She goes back in the park and delivers her lines with such a moving grace, she almost makes the people fall in love with her. Nobody hires her. She is seen as defective. They talk about decommissioning her, but she was so expensive to make.
I started to cry. I felt anxiety. I had an autistic emotional meltdown and huge tears about things that had happened in my childhood. As I calmed down and fell asleep, I dreamed all night long that I was the black, English prostitute sitting in a reprogramming room with blank eyes as not programmers from the show, but pastors from my past show up. “Raise her submissiveness. Lower her intelligence. Raise her dependence. Increase responses to peer pressure. Increase her ability to be satisfied with cliché and pat answers. For goodness sake, DO SOMETHING WITH HER STRIDENT, POWERFUL, LOUD PERSONALITY.” I woke up at 2:30 am feeling battered. I tossed and turned in almost a fever like state. I ate crackers. I drank water. I tossed and turned. I turned the fan on then off .. then on again. I was disturbed. I drifted off at 5 am and went right back into the same dream. “Why isn’t she responding? Why isn’t she like the others in our fold? Why can she just not conform?” I woke up two hours later completely unrested and ill at ease.
Church, you do not want free spirits. You do not want free thinkers with questions and big ideas. You want robots you can control, manipulate and get to conform. I am calling you out. Church leaders, if you truly believe God made me, accept me as I am. Church members, be yourselves and do not let bullies in cheap suits tell you who they think you should be and I implore you, do not become what they want you to be if it causes you stress and pain to be so. Run away from anyone whose emphasis is on conformity.