Full of Splendour: more thoughts on Westworld

It seems that what I wrote about season one of Westworld applies even more to season two. There are spoilers ahead.

During season one, head of QA Theresa states: ‘Westworld is one thing to the guests, another to the shareholders and something completely different to management’. This statement begins taking on much more significance. The Delos family’s financial investment in the park is shown to have several different aspects. For his part, William/The Man in Black is revealed to be the one who initially sold the idea of investment to his father-in-law James Delos, proposing Westworld not merely as an entertainment park for enacting fantasies but a vast data-mining enterprise, focused on finding out what people ‘really want’ by covertly recording guests’ experience and monitoring how they behave when they believe no-one is watching. The theme of a supposed resource that on another level makes resources of its users is very strong in this season, casting shade on social networking as a site of data collection and ‘market research’ writ large.

Continue reading “Full of Splendour: more thoughts on Westworld”

When the forbidden turn-on turns on you: first impressions of Westworld season one

As usual I’m late to this game, but I’m up to speed on the whole of season one.

It took a while for it to register with me, but it is clear now: what such shows as Westworld are showing us (and I’ll come back to this statement) is the disinterest — the affective disconnect — between the all-enjoying, all-consuming authoritarian capitalist and the scripted, desubjectified (proletarianised) life of the abjected figure of the non-player character. The premise that the ‘artificial’ NPC is really a living site of subjectivity is the whole conceit (and the staple ‘sci-fi’ element of a more-human-than-human nonhuman), but what I missed during most of the first season was that the form of life produced by the technicians not only had its own emergent behaviours (the desirability of which are ambiguous) but was also revolutionary in the political sense.
Continue reading “When the forbidden turn-on turns on you: first impressions of Westworld season one”