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Violence culture versus anarchism

Westworld – Season 2
The television series Westworld is a laboratory for civilization experiments, with universal ethical dilemmas as a consequence.


Westworld is a TV series epic based on the feature film of the same name, written and directed by Michael Crichton in 1973.

In the first season we meet "The Wild West" in the Delos amusement park, which is populated by so-called hosts: human-like androids with personality and programmed scenarios – tailored to satisfy guests' wildest desires.

Marshall McLuhan wrote in the 60 century about the media as extensions of the human sensory apparatus. The wetware android in Delos are also extensions, but for the time being of the malicious variety. Television series Westworld, which is now midway through season 2, is poised to become the next decade Game of Thrones. With a genre-typical starting point in both a novel and a movie, with the associated spin effects, encoder Westworld the latest generation of popular cultural metaphors, with its contemporary mix of techno-aesthetics and retro culture.

With a genre-typical starting point, encoder Westworld the latest generation of popular cultural metaphors.

In the amusement park, we meet a timeless world populated by mythical characters, where the scenes are archetypal backdrops for the sublimated conflicts of the gentlemen, projected onto powerless host puppets. Here, an unmasked and untamed human subconscious is allowed to unfold in free dressage, driven by luscious dreams of greatness and ditto masochism. IN Westworld worlds arise – and they go down.

First season

The starting point for Season 1 is the contrast between the theme park's chief designer Robert Ford and his ex-partner Arnold Weber. Arnold dies, apparently before the action begins, but leaves traces.

Dolores Abernathy is West Worlds oldest acting host and the most composed character. She falls in love with William, aka "the man in black", who is the heir to the global Delos Group and the most uncompromising co-worker and guest in Westworld. Together they set out in search of a maze. William's agenda – the solution of the labyrinth's riddle – is closely linked to power and influence in the real world. Dolores is led by an inner voice similar to Arnold Weber's and finds that she is responsible for his death.

Maeve is an ex-brothel mom who is looking for her daughter, who has disappeared. She is the first host to become aware of her own status and the park's function as a play area for the unlikely rich. Maeve succeeds in "freeing" other hosts, who become her allies while trying to fight her way out of the park.

Ford's malicious lack of morals and Nietzsche's worldview constantly haunt the scenes.

Robert Ford gives a pompous speech at the closing party itself in Season 1 and presents his new project, following an initial Nietzsche-inspired postulation of the homo sapiens, overly human attitude: "I noticed that some were watching, someone could change, so I started to compose a new story for them. It begins with the birth of a new people, the choices the people have to make, and the people they want to decide to become ... a villain named Wyatt and a murder, done to their liking this time. Unfortunately, this will be my last story… ”Wyatt-obsessed Dolores immediately executes Ford, with a neck shot, and then directs his Colt 45 to the company of hosts and guests.


Is memory constituting humanity? What happens to a machine with self-conscious memory and memories? Ever since the launch of the cult classic Memento (2000), screenwriter and director Nolan has been preoccupied with some recurring basic questions. One of the most important is the function of human memory and how the preservation of identity depends on unique, but repeated, narratives based on personal memories.

The arena in season 2 of Westworld is gradually being taken over by a new generation of androids, with burgeoning self-awareness and the ability to remember past events, recognize experiences and change behaviors. Although constantly considered robots, the androids already had a built-in solidarity reflex already in season 1 and could communicate with the herd on a subliminal level.

In Season 2, an unexpected change occurs: Self-awareness, arises and with it comes a higher type of intelligence, as if a flash of enlightenment makes the android more like the people who created them. The new generation of androids has a clearly evolved communication ability, although few of them seem to have any empathy with either humans or peers. Despite its newly acquired self-awareness, most revenge-driven predators remain, where a Hobbesian self-preservation drive dominates. Dolores – undisputed shield mower and leader of the most targeted herd – is, by his age, endowed with both complex memories and a forced identity. Her weakness is a failing sense of time, with the result that memories are confused with real experiences, and emotions become compelling urges.


How can we control man if man does not control himself? Can the satisfaction of desire be combined with monitoring? How do scientific innovation and commercial success relate to draconian colonization projects and the oppression of minorities? Under the classic, conflict-driven contradictions of Westworld glimpsed another, motivational theme, which is about repetition and duplicity. Is it the dual nature of man that disrupts the monumental projects of the powerful?

In the amusement park we meet a timeless world populated by mythical characters.

The duality has a number of different shapes and is expressed on several narrative levels, both in plot and characters. A nearby example is the Ford / Arnold relationship, which culminates in Dolores terminating Arnold and ending with Ford staging his own execution. But the retreat is ambiguous, it is uncertain whether it is Ford that we see holding his own grave speech. It could just as well be the character, the super-Ford who made himself superfluous, after equipping the hosts with self-programming resources. And Dolores might not have killed Arnold either, it was only Bernard.

Another example of a double character is William, who also appears in two figures, both inside and outside Delos. "The Man in Black" has a clear project throughout the game – solving the labyrinth's riddle, a riddle whose answer is ambiguous. From mythology we know that the island of Delos is the place of the god Apollo, which is still maintained today as a temple of eternal life. Under the myth of the maze, it hides both insight into the typical human and the recognition of the barbaric associated with the creation of unnatural life forms. Williams' innovative involvement in the park will contribute to the healing of Mr. Delos through "exact reproduction." But the digital duplication of a human self does not in any way mean that the ring has ended.

Insight or eternal life?

Nevertheless, a person who has insight into his dual nature and the unintended consequences of his actions can maneuver between the contradictions in an ethically sound way. But the question is whether a digital self-duplicate should be given a similar level of judgment. The Delos Amusement Park is an entertainment simulacrum, which is also designed to overcome death, thus providing eternal life for its creators.

In Westworld worlds arise – and they go down.

Mr. Delos' desperate search for a cure for his deadly disease reflects in a one-to-one relationship developments in Westworld-verdenen. The gigantic social experiment with the hosts' acquisition of self-awareness and provisional liberation from their rulers simultaneously represents a new step on the road to light. The pursuit of the program, or the technology that will create a digital double-thread for Mr. Delos, is governed by the same common sense. Although not all hosts are as vengeful and relentless as Dolores.

Violence culture versus anarchism

Through the character Maeve, we are presented with a scenario with opposite intentions and motives for action: Maeve is driven by a care program, an imperative to find her missing child. Ford's appeal at the closing party, gives her an awakening and impulse to seek out the park, out to the human world. Ford's program lives its own life, but in Maeve's case, it's something other than pure self-sufficiency that governs. The counterpart to Dolores' relentless pursuit of power and desire for revenge is an empathetic, clairvoyant being of the communist type and with an empathy that embraces the community, but not necessarily other androids. A feminist axis with the extremes of culture of violence versus anarchism, personified through Dolores and Maeve, is thereby suggested.

Ford's malicious lack of morals and Nietzschean worldview constantly haunt the scenes. As from a dying god's perspective, he allows various ethico-political scenarios to unfold. The leap is taken from the world of vending machines through a revenge-driven, rudimentary justice system that stands up to a more collective, spiritual and caring culture. When samurai emerge, we realize that duality is also interpersonal. The brothel mom and the geyser hostess turn out to be twin souls, duplicates of each other, staged in different contexts. Kurosawa meets Yul Brenner. Arnold is still meeting Ford. While unlucky Mr. Delos must spend his shadow life as an unfinished simulation of his former self, caught between two creatures – like a water dead, or like a troubled Promethev's.

Sigurd Ohrem
Sigurd Ohrem
Ohrem is a writer for Ny Tid.

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