Jun 12, 2010
Cherry 2000

Alison sent me this movie. This is a 1986 post-apocalyptic romantic comedy. I contend that it’s a feminist movie while Alison sees it as simply a rom-com.

The plot revolves around a man, Sam Treadwell, who is looking for a replacement for his female robot. He’s looking for a model called a Cherry 2000. Since this is post-apocalyptic we get treated to little tidbits, like a 40% unemployment rate, higher than during the Great Depression. We also get old, run down vehicles that seem to magically run on gas, even though there’s no sign of a gas station, not to mention oil wells, refineries, or transportation for the gas.

I think it’s a feminist picture because its depiction of men is frankly hostile. Sam is depicted as man who likes the Cherry because she is a hot babe who provides him with good sex. Now I’d be the first to admit that an attractive package helps, but without the other accoutrements of the human personality, intellect, emotion, and all the rest, no relationship can last. Sam’s quest for Cherry leads him to Melanie Griffith’s character, and in the process she raises him up so that he yearns for more than a mere sex object.

Now this is one of the many places that I take issue with feminism. The object of love or sexual desire is not a thing. Feminism takes the word object as always and everywhere meaning thing. What object expresses, however, is relational and grammatical. The loved object is not a thing, but the one to whom I, the subject, yearn. To say I love you, is to say that I, the person I know best, the subject, yearn for you, the object, or person who fulfills my yearning.

The object is not fetishized, but elevated to an equal relationship with the lover.

In the course of the movie Sam is elevated to a perception that Cherry is just a robot. He is therefore, since she is not a person, free to abandon her. Is Cherry not a person? That, to my mind, would depend on whether she was able to pass the Turing test. Could she, were you to examine her behavior, exhibit human traits in such a way that someone could reasonably believe she was human? Assuming that she could pass a Turing test, what are the obligations that follow from a relationship with her? Abandonment is not an acceptable possibility because Cherry has moral status as a human. If Cherry fails to exhibit human characteristics, she is nothing but a robot, and may be abandoned. It should, in all fairness, be noted that psychopaths and politicians fail to exhibit fully human responses, so their moral status is also questionable.

Sam is essentially female and passive, while Griffith’s character is active, dominant, and violent, i.e., acting as a traditional male.

In Cherry 2000 we have the reversal of gender roles that will be better represented in Alias.

Cherry 2000 is not available new from Amazon, so there is no link to it.