The conflict between man and the new technological society of the 20th century is a staple of Modernism; men are often presented as machine-like automatons, going through the motions of their daily life. The fear that these new technologies constantly supplant the role of humans is one of the key ideas of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The female android character of Maria was borne out of a reaction to Modernism during the period of German Expressionism. This fake Maria destabilizes and threatens the typical male German viewer, operating as both a female figure, and a mechanical one. The idea of a woman—often relegated often to the domestic sphere—transgressing upon the male realm and managing to dominate it, further endangers the male identity. Thus, the hyper-sexualized robot Maria becomes the film’s femme fatale figure. “Technofetishism” (as Allison de Fren labels it) operates on a level higher than normal miscegenation, which is already seen as taboo. Instead of sexual attraction and intercourse between two races, here we have a lascivious android that threatens to form a bridge between human and robot, organic and inorganic. As noted by other scholars (such as Mary Douglas and Jeffrey Cohen), the gynoid becomes monstrous because it refuses categorization and blurs boundaries. These boundaries include, amongst others, the organic against the mechanical, male against female, and worker against bourgeois. It is the fact that the fake Maria is so eerily close to being a full human (she is even mistaken for one for most of the film) which makes her “otherness” that much more horrifying.
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