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Today: February 22, 2024
August 2, 2023

What I’m Reading and Watching: Murderbot, Barbie

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I’ve become completely addicted to Martha Wells’ Murderbot series

Sentient robots have been around for a while (yes, Isaac Asimov, Ian McEwan, and Dennis E. Taylor I’m thinking especially of you.) Martha Wells introduces us to Murderbot in a series of briskly paced novels that must be read in sequence to trace Murderbot’s evolution from a tool to a being of independent agency who learns not only what it is to be free, but how to be loved — although he has a hard time admitting it. Great stuff. Very techie, but filled with rip-snorting action and hilarious dialogue.

Now a Word or Two About Barbie

My wife, Sandy, asked me if I wanted to see Barbie with her. My initial reaction was, “negatory.” No offense to Barbie dolls. I didn’t watch G.I. Joe The Movie either.

But that was before I started to read some of the reviews and I realized I needed to check this film out for myself. It has stirred criticism that seems to fall into a couple of baskets:

It’s unfair to men because it paints all the male characters as either idiots, or bigots, or losers.

It’s unfair to women because the men had to be dumbed down in order to make the women look good, as if they couldn’t do it on their own.

My take: I thought it was a brilliant production with a scattering of hilarious moments, but its preachy-ness at the end was cringy and over the top. I would also say it was out of synch with all the cultural growth we’ve experienced in the past several decades. Except with the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, maybe the timing is ominously prescient.

It also passes the “think about it” test. When you see a film or read a book and it stays with you for days afterward, perhaps even becoming a subconscious lens through which you view the world around you a little differently, by definition, then, it is provocative. Which is what art is meant to be.

About Post Author

J.C. Bruce

J.C. Bruce is a journalist and author of The Strange Files series of mysterious novels.
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