‘Westworld’ is a curious blend of the science fiction genre with the classic western, based on the 1973 film of the same name. If you can get past the gratuitous violence, awful treatment of women, plot jumps between timelines that even an Olympic athlete would be proud of – Westworld is an intriguing, engaging media event however confusing at first. It not only deals with those eternal questions of human nature, good and evil, consciousness and the meaning of life but raises more contemporary issues about artificial intelligence and what this means for our personal and cultural identity.
Having recently binged on the first season, it is clear that Westworld’s writers and producers are in desperate need of cultural awareness training. ‘But Munya’, I hear you say, ‘it’s just entertainment, just harmless fun’. Granted, entertainment it may be but ‘harmless fun’ is questionable. Never underestimate the power of the media or the powers that be in shaping our opinions by programming us to take a certain view of people, place and issues. As the creators and programmers of Westworld (the Wild West theme amusement park) constantly ask their robots or ‘hosts’ – ‘Do you ever question your reality?’.
This article explores the mistreatment of culture in Westworld.