HBO's new futuristic theme park series "Westworld" premiered last night, and there are already protests, backlash to the protests, and requests to keep watching for the "full context" of what has only just begun.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which often takes aim at "Game of Thrones," released a statement that "HBO is building a legacy of rape culture entertainment" with this new series. Here's part of what they issued in a press release October 3:
"The first episode of HBO's latest series, Westworld, contains a reference to the raping of a corpse, uses brothels as a backdrop for full frontal nudity, and includes a disturbing rape scene that would likely re-traumatize viewers who have experienced sexual assault. Why does HBO insist on making sadistic themes of sexual violence against women the cornerstone of its entertainment formula? No corporation that so regularly promotes the degradation and abuse of the female body can respect women. I am calling on HBO to stop piping scenes of sexual objectification and violence into millions of American's homes. HBO's commitment to portraying sexual objectification and sexual violence against women is not only socially irresponsible, it is anti-woman, and more importantly anti-human."
Evan Rachel Wood -- who plays Westworld's oldest "host," the perpetually tortured Dolores -- is not in any way anti-woman or anti-human, and she called for patience, promising there is more happening than gratuitous exploitation.
Here's part of what she told The Hollywood Reporter:
"[The show's violence] is absolutely very rough. I don't like gratuitous violence against women at all, but I would wait for the context in which it's being used. As the show progresses, the way it's being used is very much a commentary and a look at our humanity and why we find these things entertaining and why this is an epidemic, and flipping it on its head. The roles for the women on this show are going to be very revolutionary. It's very gender-neutral. I would ask, as somebody who is an advocate against any kind of abuse or violence and is outspoken about it, to give it a chance and wait to see where it's going. I think it will surprise people."
The premiere showed Dolores being dragged off to be raped by longtime "guest" the Gunslinger (Ed Harris). It was implied that he has done that many times in the past, and gets off on the fact that she always fights to stop him. Dolores's love interest, another host called Teddy (Jason Marsden) is killed multiple times, suffering his own tragic loop.
Producer Jonathan Nolan told THR:
"We were fascinated by the idea that if you make a good game space, a good and durable environment like this, it would last for generations. People would come back and bring their kids to meet Dolores, the same way they met her when they were a kid. Dolores has been the girl next door with aspirations to travel and see the world and escape her modest little loop for going on 35 years. That, to us, enhances the horror of her situation."
Here's the trailer for Episode 2, "Chestnut," which seems to include a stronger role for Thandie Newton's madam Maeve Millay:
"Westworld" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.
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