Westworld: A Theme Park Beyond The Matrix
Guest Blog by David Voderberg, GSE News Network
Imagine that someone built the best theme park in the world. This theme park is "The Matrix" of resorts for adults. Beware the woman in the red dress. This is "Jurassic Park" for adult fantasy immersion. If the 'Pirates of the Caribbean break down, will they eat the tourists?
You go there, and do whatever you want. Your darkest, wildest fantasies.
Have you ever desired to be a part of the ruling elite in a land of opulence? Roman world may satiate your deepest fantasies.
What if your fantasy was to be a medieval knight? The theme park gives you a suit of armor, a sword, a noble steed, and bids you have fun.
What if you wanted to be a cowboy with a six-shooter at his side in a wild western world? You get the ten-gallon hat, the six gun, the boots, and the park turns you lose.
You can play out your every fantasy. The only directive is to have fun. This is where we arrive in Westworld, a DELOS resort. The sole purpose of Westworld is to help you forget your life for a while, and indulge in what the society of our real world would frown upon. DELOS provides a world without moral limits.
Welcome to Westworld
HBO’s newest show premieres on October 2nd, based on a movie of the same name from 1973. Westworld will follow several characters as they move through the park. We get to see how seductive and powerful it is to be invited into a realm where anything you want to do feels real, but has no consequence. You want to shoot the guy who offended you? Do it. Draw down and put him in the dirt. You want to take a “Host” (the in-universe name for the robots inhabiting Westworld) back to your room for the night? Well, the life-like robots are there for your pleasure.
Beyond the Fantasy, a New Reality
If fantasy was the only premise, watching someone play in a fictional universe would be like someone else play a video game. It could be entertaining, but it wouldn’t be particularly compelling.
The dinosaurs have to go wild. The ‘pirates of the caribbean’ have to break down. As the main human characters run through their fantasies we see signs that the machines that inhabit Westworld are becoming self-aware. This is where we start our journey to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Once the machines begin to “wake up,” can the humans in the park survive? That was the question asked in the original film, an influence for such movies as The Terminator and later The Matrix. Now this science fiction theme comes full circle. The humans stand on the top of the food chain. We and control the machines. The self-aware machines live in the human version of paradise. For the “Hosts,” it is a bitter cruel hell. In a subversion of the “killer robots overthrow humanity” trope, the sympathetic characters are the machines. In this reality when The Matrix, or Judgement Day comes, we may morally deserve it.
Immersion and losing yourself in the world dominate early promotions for the show. Westworld gives us The Matrix you willingly step into. In HBO’s Westworld, a guest must leave for at least one week out of every four before they are allowed back into Westworld. Societies morality must be maintained even in the universe of Westworld. Westworld is more immersive than any MMO, and it feels real. It is everything some people always wanted.
The Cost of the Illusion
That immersion may come at a cost to your soul. When every sin and vice is allowable, how could someone just give that up? What would the real world look like when you have physically lived in the space of heightened reality?. The characters, both machine and human, will begin to blur that moral line and, show us where our own concepts of morality really lie. After all, the simulations we create reflect what we want. Our secret desires, what we can’t do in the real world. From shooting down your enemies on a battlefield in Call of Duty to creating the world around you in The SIMS, all the games we play and parks we build allow us to live in worlds that aren’t real. We are forced to return to the real world when we turn the game off. Now imagine a world where you don’t have to go back to the real world, not really, and you are in control, would you ever willingly leave?
I admit that I am very excited for this show. The original 1973 movie is a personal favorite of mine. I cannot wait to see Ed Harris, Anthony Hopkins, and all the other cast members bring to life in a world I love. I look forward to seeing what questions the show asks, and what answers it offers. I am like a kid on a roller coaster, holding my breath as we crest the top of the hill, throwing my hands up, and seeing where this ride takes us.
I'm David Voderberg. I’ll be your host for the journey through Westworld! Keep an eye out for more of my articles on SUPERflix Movies. Read me over on my Facebook page as well -> GSE News Network!