You’re familiar with “Westworld,” right? The new HBO show more so that the movie, featuring a future theme park characterized by audio-animatronics that are indistinguishable from real humans, leaping handily over the uncanny valley until you shoot them in the head and they actually die. The bullets won’t kill real people.
Which leads me to one thing that drives me nuts about the show. Here is a world built beautifully to true life, except of course that it is far more interesting and exciting than real life. It portrays the past as a living movie, full of characters with narratives – in which you can participate! The ultimate video game! Follow and interact with any character, cultivate adventure and romance. Be whoever you like. Do whatever you like.
And apparently 93% of the customers, presented with the infinite possibility of stories upon stories, would like to SHOOT PEOPLE IN THE FACE.
Honestly. I mean, I’m not against violence when it is either essential to the plot or [loosely tied to the plot but] gratuitously ridiculous – think the lobby shootout in The Matrix – but these trigger-happy whack jobs are completely missing the point of the park. Guest characters shoot people for fun, often at random, regardless of plot or what other interactions are going on around them. This is not what Delos is for. Delos is for trying on another life. It is for story play. I want to shout in anger: STOP KILLING HOSTS AT RANDOM! YOU’RE RUINING THE NARRATIVE! IF YOU WANT TO KILL PEOPLE DO IT WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF A STORY, DAMMIT!
I don’t know. Maybe I’m the one missing the point. I’m only partially through the series, and I’m sure what the show is trying to convey is something like, I don’t know, beware of relying too much on AI or be careful of revealing your true self or or stop fantasizing so much or something. But my primary takeaway has been this: I wanna go play inside a big story world full of characters and connecting plot threads! I’d do a much better job taking advantage of Westworld’s offerings than these… these… these Grand Theft Auto enthusiasts.
Anyway. Believe it or not, this is actually not the main thrust of my post. I was moved to write because I have found a parallel to Walt Disney World.
I’m talking shooting up audio-animatronics.
No! No. I am not talking that. Clearly. WDW is not Delos by a long shot. But there is a moment in the second episode of “Westworld” where Anthony Hopkins’ character explains to a Westworld story writer why his plot is being rejected. In it, I begin to find a kernel of why us WDW enthusiasts love it so:
“They come back because of the subtleties. The details. They come back because they discover something they imagine no one ever noticed before.”
We love WDW for reasons that are personal. But sometimes they aren’t always explicable. Certainly it would be hard if not impossible to fully encapsulate that love in words. But I think there’s the beginnings of it in that.
One question, though: why would you ever want to one-up Hieronymus Bosch?
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