Tag: the stepford wives

“The Stepford Wives” reflection: Individuality and bio-bodies as human features

Part three of five reflections on the Ambiguously Human film series and installation. Earlier reflections were on Wall-E and Ghost in the Shell.

I chose to show The Stepford Wives after Ghost in the Shell because I thought they made a nice pair of perspectives surrounding my central question. Whereas Ghost in the Shell looks at the integration of objects – mechanical bodies, digital minds – into the spectrum of the human, The Stepford Wives shows how human qualities can become quite inhuman. Wall-E, as I discussed, shows this, but The Stepford Wives deals with it more directly and in a particular context. This ambiguous dichotomy flows two ways, object towards human (which I’ve mostly focused on) and human towards object (which is still important to consider in this project).

I’ve become interested in how the body mediates or confers human identity, and that was interesting to look at in The Stepford Wives. Early on in the film, before we know they’ve been replaced by robots, several of the women Joanna and Bobby encounter around Stepford seem extremely devoted to their housework and role as wives and mothers. It’s strange, but not outside the possibilities for human variety. Early on Joanna and Bobby look at these women and their presumably-chosen lives with laughter and a bit of scorn. Their suspicions that something is amiss grow over the course of the film, largely due to abrupt personally changes and the ubiquity of happy housewives in the town.

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“The Stepford Wives” and “Ex Machina” screenings

The last two screenings and discussions in the film series have been scheduled! We’ll look at The Stepford Wives with Rubenstein Curator Rachel Ingold at 7pm on Tuesday, March 1 in the East Duke building and then Ex Machina with Professors Kate Hayles and Jay O’berski at 7pm on Thursday, March 10 at Perkins Library. Read more about the films and general topics for their discussions on the films page, and join the facebook groups (here’s the page for The Stepford Wives and the page for Ex Machina).

Please share with anyone you think might be interested! I hope to see you there.

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