This is a lotta creepy

(image of Buffy’s first encounter with the Buffybot from Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 5, episode 18, ‘Intervention’)

Fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer may remember the Buffybot from ‘Intervention’ (B:TvS S5E18). The lifelike robotic creation of the misogynist Warren, the Buffybot was created for Spike because he…I wouldn’t say he loved Buffy (though he thought he did at the time)…perhaps ‘infatuated’ is the right term? ‘Lusted’, even.  That’s probably more accurate, because for Spike, the Buffybot was a fuck machine. And that’s one big reason the robot was creepy to me. The idea of a man creating a robotic facsimile of a woman he desires takes objectification to a new level. From street harassment to sexual assault to sex trafficking, women around the world are accustomed to men viewing them as objects. Not as human beings, but as objects to be bought. Objects to be sold. Objects to be traded. Objects to own. But at least building an artificial creation that resembles an actual living human woman is something that only exists in fiction, right? Not any longer.

A 42-year-old Hong Kong man has made his own version of the Buffybot. After spending nearly $50,000, product and graphic designer Ricky Ma has created a robotic woman. And not just any robotic woman. Noooooo, he wasn’t satisfied with creating a random female robot. He had to create a robotic Scarlet Johansson:

(a 42-year-old man in Hong Kong has built his own talking Scarlett Johansson robot)

Ricky Ma, a 42-year-old product and graphic designer, has spent more than $50,000 (£34,000) and a year and a half creating the female robot prototype, Mark 1.

The designer confirmed the scarily lifelike humanoid had been modelled on a Hollywood star, but wanted to keep her name under wraps.

It responds to a set of programmed verbal commands spoken into a microphone and has moving facial expressions, but Ricky says creating it wasn’t easy.

“Look ma, I’ve created a woman that is programmed to respond to what I want!” Because that doesn’t betray any possible thinking on his part about what he wants out of women.

Ricky said: “When I was a child, I liked robots. Why? Because I liked watching animation. All children loved it. There were Transformers, cartoons about robots fighting each other and games about robots.

How do you go from “I want to create a robot” to “I want to create a lifelike facsimile of Scarlet Johansson?” That’s a  pretty big jump. Why not create a robot turtle, chicken, or even a robotic Godzilla? Why create something *this* specific? Does someone have Scar Jo on the brain (tho, come to think of it, I wonder if ‘brain’ is the correct organ to be talking about)?

“After I grew up, I wanted to make one. But during this process, a lot of people would say things like, ‘Are you stupid? This takes a lot of money. Do you even know how to do it? It’s really hard’.”

Has a lot of money to blow. Chooses to recreate an existing human in robotic form. His own personal property, that will follow his commands and do as he pleases. Nope. Not creepy at all.

Besides movements of its arms and legs, turning its head and bowing, Ma’s robot, with blonde hair and hazel eyes can form detailed facial expressions.

If you watch the video, you’ll see some creepy-ass eye movements. Ma really wanted this robot to be as lifelike as possible.

“I figured I should just do it when the timing is right and realise my dream. If I realise my dream, I will have no regrets in life,” he said.

 Awww, it’s almost precious. He brought his dream to life. His own Scarlet Johansson to hug and to hold and to pet and to squeeze (and probably to lust after too). Nothing disturbing about that at all.
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This is a lotta creepy
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11 thoughts on “This is a lotta creepy

  1. 1

    When I first saw the headline in my FB trending thingy, I thought, ‘How much could it really look like her?’ and moved on. Now that I see a picture (and I’m still not going to watch the video), it certainly is creepy as creepy gets.

    Though I still think, “The who whatting how with the huh?” is one of the best delivered lines in the whole of Buffy.

  2. 3

    onamission5:
    Thanks for that link. This part in particular articulated another powerful reason why the robot is an awful idea:

    < blockquote>
    Because that’s what I think is especially unnerving about this robot — the idea that a woman has been copied without her consent. And the gender of the robot and her famous inspiration is important. At wax museums, where business relationships are cooked up between celebs and designers, things like this still happen to sexualized bodies.

  3. 4

    I have nothing against people having sex mannequins/robots, but I do agree that any specialized facial design should only be available under the legal consent of the person whose likeness is desired.

    Of course…there are porn actors and actresses enough who closely resemble Hollywood superstars and who would probably be willing to provide consent for their likeness for that requirement to be moot.

    After all, Scar Jo isn’t the only person on the planet with her appearance; everyone has/is a doppelganger.

  4. 5

    What really creeps me out is not that he made this thing, but that he wanted other people to know about it (because how else did anyone find out?). It’s one thing to create a facsimile of another person for your own pleasure; that speaks to some serious sexual hangups, but it doesn’t really harm anyone.

    It’s another to make such a sexbot… and then make damn sure that the person it represents finds out. That imposes the idea on them in a much more personal way.

    It makes it clear that you’re not just getting off on being with this person (or their copy); you’re getting off on the violation of their autonomy. You want to make sure that, in some way, they are forced to acknowledge your possession of them.

    It’s the difference between simply desiring a certain sensory input vs. desiring that someone else gets a certain sensory input, whether they like it or not. That’s sick on a whole other level.

  5. 6

    Perhaps this example more clearly illustrates why I find this disturbing.

    Scenario 1:
    Gilbert thinks that Rosanne is really hot. He decides to imagine having sex with Rosanne while masturbating.

    Scenario 2:
    Gilbert thinks that Rosanne is really hot. He decides to imagine having sex with Rosanne while masturbating, and then tells everyone at work that he has done so, ensuring that Rosanne finds out.

    One of these scenarios is a private matter. The other is sexual harassment.

  6. 8

    I think the key word here—for Spike and for this guy—would be “obsession”. And that ain’t healthy.

    I thought that people owned their own likenesses, when it comes to action figures and other merchandisables? Or am I behind the times/naive?

  7. 9

    @cicely–

    I was wondering that, too. Could be, this guy isn’t looking to make a profit directly off the prototype, unlike with marketable actions figures and the like, and since the robot falls into category: personal project he can legally do what he wants, regardless of how goddamned creepy.

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