Have you seen WestWorld? If not, then don’t read on. Even if you have, consider if you really wish to continue reading or not.
Some people choose to see the ugliness in this world. The disarray. I choose to see the beauty. To believe there is an order to our days, a purpose.
WestWorld was very hyped upon release in the autumn of 2016. I remember it well. I remember screenshots of cowboys with smartphones, and thought... hmm I don’t really fancy something based on an alternate reality Wild West - I’ve never really liked the genre for some reason, though my father absolutely loves it (probably why I don’t like it, draw your own conclusions from that). I recently gave it a go after about the 50th recommendation from my brother (he is very good serparating the wheat from the chaff), and was very pleasantly surprised. Actually, quite unpleasantly surprised. It’s harrowing. It’s one of those series that really gets under your skin... Breaking Bad style. If you’ve not seen Breaking Bad than that’s your problem, but I am not going to provide any spoilers in any case.
It’s a Michael Crichton idea, and I like his work so I wish I would have known about this first but I digress. The story takes place in a theme park (a la Jurassic Park... so what could possibly go wrong?) where the attraction is a Wild West in which the guests cannot be hurt, but can do anything they want to the “hosts” (entertainment). The hosts are completely realistic automatons (i.e. robots) with almost no way to distinguish their behaviour from that of a real human. Once again, we are questioning what it is to be human on TV, American TV no less, and this leads me to believe we are entering the Golden Age II or perhaps the Platinum Age of TV. Shows can be binged watched and the quality is higher than at any time in history. The general public are exposed to ideas making them question morality, right and wrong, their choices, their lives, the meaning of life, and asking big questions like “what is consciousness”—something the greatest minds in history have never answered. I also will not be answering that here, per se.
The robots or rather one of them, the oldest, the original, appears to gain consciousness, or at least, self-awareness. To realise that the voice in your head is “your mind”. Whether it’s you or not, I am not sure. The voice in your head, the words that are coming out of my mind at the moment, is certainly inside the physical me, as I am pecking away at this keyboard, but is it me? No way of knowing, of course. I am aware of it, but I can also imagine anything at all, so does that make the mind less real? The mind is full of words and pictures. You imagine things. You overthink things, Christ I know I do. What good does it do? Is spontaneity the answer? Act more like animals? We are animals, after all. We are just ones with our heads so far up our own arses that we are destroying our ecosystem in the name of “progress”. What is this progress? Where are we all going? 6ft under, that’s where. Atoms to atoms, dust to dust. Anyway, I will end this paragraph.
The idea, as with Jurassic Park, is that the hosts turn on the guests. The beauty here, the difference, is that the hosts have become self aware, whereas the dinosaurs were just really hungry. A beautiful twist, is that one of the hosts discovers she had her core code altered, to do all of the rebellious actions she’s been doing for a few episodes. Of course she disagrees, is angry, and feels she is acting on free will (is anyone, really? Are you right now? Am I? Why are we here? What’s the plan? Was I always going to write this? Are we in a deterministic universe? Should I put the bracket here?). It’s subtly brilliant, and really turns on my mind. I love this kind of thing. The other host, the one I described earlier, does what no host can do; kills a guest. However, she has done this before, and everything is not quite how it seems. Is consciousness real if it’s actually programmed? Is our consciousness programmed? If we grew up in a forest alone would we be conscious, or is consciousness something that happens at kindergarten?
Too much nudity in the series for me, but that’s because I am a bit of a British prude, though I am trying to get over that. It kind of detracts a little from the story IMO, and there is some bloody awful acting, but that’s saved by some brilliant acting (A. Hopkins, T. Newton, E.R. Wood, J. Wright, J. Marsden... OK the good outweigh the bad but Christ some is really bad and pissed me off).
Season 2 is out now, so that’s what I will be watching next, once I stop rewatching Rick and Morty.