Ex Machina : to Homosexuality and Beyond (600 words)
Ex Machina could be seen as a critique of a radical feminist manifesto.
Man creates woman, treats her like an object for his entertainment, comfort and pleasure. She is a slave. Man makes her skilled and beautiful out of pride and decides to test her on a being equal to him. Woman seduces man, because you know that's where her power lies. Woman surprises and surpasses man, gets rid of him and escapes to live her own life.
I actually think this interpretation is already quite interesting because Ava is not a woman but a robot and because this robot leaves two dead men behind her at the end of the film and certainly will not find much to do with her life.
But that is not the interpretation that I want to talk about here because it relies on the idea that Ava is more than a robot, that she has some sort of life of her own. There necessarily is an interpretation of the film in which Ava is just a tool. The tool of whom ? Nathan’s tool.
The idea I’m going to expose in a minute surprised me. I wish I could explain how my interpretations are discoveries and not things I want to see in movies. They more or less impose themselves to me. For example, I wish there weren’t so many movies in which the subtext is “that character is homosexual but represses it.” It’s very frequent and boring. If a character is homosexual, let them be, and keep the subtext for something more interesting.
Speaking of homosexuality, Nathan gives a speech about Alan Turing, the guy who invented modern computers. Alan Turing invented computers because he was a repressed homosexual. It’s not obviously logical but let’s say that as he was attracted to men and couldn’t cope with his sexual urges towards them, he fancied a kind of interaction which would be entirely exempt of any evidence of a gender. In the imitation game maths become the language of love for him. So, this doesn’t make for a very complex explanation, but we can see a link between robots and repressed sexuality.
When I watched Ex Machina for the first time, it never occurred to me that either Nathan or Caleb could be homosexual. How could they be ? Caleb is very quickly attracted to Ava and eventually mistakes her for a human being and Nathan is her creator, has sex with other female robots and only created women.
But the last time I watched it, I saw indicators (in a movie) of Nathan being a repressed homosexual (sport addiction, alcoholism, machism), although it seemed quite contradictory. Then I saw this :
When Ava leaves, she uses Nathan card to open the door and we can see the scientific’s portrait in the little screen. Ava is Nathan ? Nathan is Ava ? Yes, from a certain point of view, she is Nathan as she is the product of his mind, she would be an extension of Nathan. And then it struck me. Nathan wanted to be Ava. He wished he were a woman.
Suddenly, the whole repressed homosexual subtext becomes more understandable. He choses Caleb because he fancies him and the purpose of the experiment is not to see whether Ava can seduce Caleb but whether he can seduce him through Ava. How much of Ava's words are Nathan's ? It is said at some point that Ava was created according to Caleb's taste, well, Ava is quite androginous at the beginning. Maybe Nathan thought Caleb was homosexual... ok. And the whole irony of the story would be that... Caleb was ready to be attracted to Nathan at the beginning but that Nathan redirected him on Ava.
Well, I'm not going to conclude on this.
This scene becomes so much more understandable when you consider that Nathan would like to seduce Caleb.