starlady: David 8 holding the holographic Earth in wonderment. (when there is nothing in the desert)
[personal profile] starlady
source: Ex Machina (2015)
audio: The Dresden Dolls, "Coin-Operated Boy"
length: 4:03
stream: on Critical Commons
download: 180MB mp4 on mediafire
summary: Love without complications galore/Isn't that the point?
note: contains self-harm and graphic violence

A Festivids 2015 treat for [personal profile] winterevanesce.

Original Festivids post

I thought Ex Machina was one of the best movies of 2015; moreover, I thought it was extraordinarily feminist (albeit with a dude as the POV character, sigh). In my opinion, people's reactions to the movie come down to whether or not they think the filmmakers were doing it intentionally; I think they were--the intelligence of the movie is palpable in every frame, starting with the cinematography--and this vid is my argument for the same thesis. It turns on the insight that there is no meaningful difference between Caleb and Ava; he is no less "coin-operated" than she is. He just responds to different inputs. (Relatedly: a good chunk of the point of the Turing Test is that humans are really bad at distinguishing cognition from random responses, or vice versa. We'll anthropomorphize any damn thing but also withhold recognition of sentience based on our own misplaced pride in our vaunted intelligence.)

And yes, it's The Dresden Dolls, with Amanda fucking Palmer singing the lead vocals. I thought long and hard about whether I wanted to accept the cost of people potentially pre-judging the vid purely on the basis of the song, and then decided that I did; Sady Doyle actually wrote a piece on AFP in 2014 that changed my thinking about the reaction to her, if not to Palmer herself; it opens with the line "What, exactly, did we prove by hating Amanda Palmer?" and proceeds to make some valuable points from there. It's a good song (although I cut it down pretty radically, in Audacity, which was way better than Premiere, thank you vidders' census), and it makes the points I wanted the song for the vid to make.

As for the vid itself, the cropping gave me fits (I still haven't actually solved it; it just looks solved) and I actually re-edited the song twice; this was another vid where I went non-linear to get the thing done, as I hit a wall after the end of the first chorus and had to start building back from the end to stay on schedule and to figure out what I needed to do in the middle: I knew the bridge would be Ava POV, but not how or what. Again, I did the credits in the middle of the process. The Donna Haraway quote occurred to me while I was laying down text layers, and it seemed to be the perfect way to encapsulate the vid and my interpretation of the movie, and Ava's actions: I would rather be a cyborg than a goddess.

I wanted to do a POV switch/reveal in the middle of the vid a la the great BSG vid Who Knew, but after laying down the last part of the vid I realized that the movie just doesn't have enough footage for me to do that effectively. I still think of the whole vid as being from Ava's perspective; she is definitely the "I" who manipulates everyone into gaining her freedom. In the end, she passes the Turing test with flying colors.


password: festivids

Lyrics
Coin operated boy
Sitting on the shelf he is just a toy
But I turn him on and he comes to life
Automatic joy
That is why I want a coin operated boy

Made of plastic and elastic
He is rugged and long-lasting
Who could ever ever ask for more
Love without complications galore
Many shapes and weights to choose from
I will never leave my bedroom
I will never cry at night again
Wrap my arms around him and pretend....

Coin operated boy
All the other real ones that I destroy
Cannot hold a candle to my new boy and I'll
Never let him go and I'll never be alone [x2]
Not with my coin operated boy......

This bridge was written to make you feel smittener
With my sad picture of a girl getting bitterer
Can you extract me from my plastic fantasy
I didn't think so but I'm still convincible
Will you persist even after I bet you
A billion dollars that I'll never love you
Will you persist even after I kiss you
Goodbye for the last time
Will you keep on trying to prove it?
I'm dying to lose it...
I'm losing... my confidence
I want it
I want you
I want a coin operated boy

He may not be real experienced with girls
But I know he feels like a boy should feel
Isn't that the point that is why I want a
Coin operated boy
With his pretty coin operated voice
Saying that he loves me that hes thinking of me
Straight and to the point
That is why I want
A coin operated boy.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-13 08:05 (UTC)
shallowness: Beautiful blue alien in front of colourful background (Zhaan Farscape wonders I've seen)
From: [personal profile] shallowness
Really interesting vid.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-03-16 19:28 (UTC)
sovay: (Rotwang)
From: [personal profile] sovay
Vid: Automatic Joy (Ex Machina)

That's delightful. I like the timing of the bridge to the first set of reveals, especially the use of "girl getting bitterer" to foreground Ava's perspective.

[edit] I saw most of Ex Machina in February and agree with the feminism. It was more of a standout for me than the science fiction. (Discussion in comments kind of derails, so I recommend ignoring.)
Edited Date: 2016-03-16 19:30 (UTC)

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