Android Maria

Maria2

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.

Works Cited

Bird, Lawrence. “States of Emergency: Urban Space and the Robotic Body in the ‘Metropolis’ Tales.” Mechademia 3 (2008): 126-148. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Fren, Allison de. “Technofetishism and the Uncanny Desires of A.S.F.R (alt.sex.fetish.robots).” Science Fiction Studies 36 (2009): 404-440. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Hales, Barbara. “Dancer in the Dark: Hypnosis, Trance-Dancing, and Weimar’s Fear of the New Woman.” Monatshefte 102 (2010): 534-549. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Huyssen, Andreas. “The Vamp and the Machine: Technology and Sexuality in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.” New German Critique 24/25 (1981): 221-237. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

Murphy, Richard. “Modernism and the Cinema: Metropolis and the Expressionist Aesthetic.” Comparative Critical Studies 4 (2007): 105-120. JSTOR. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.

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One response to “Android Maria

  1. This is a great analysis and I think really resonates with the idea of the doll, which I did. I really see the connection between mad science (robot) and freakery (doll) in the sense that a man-made creation becomes almost too real and further threatens the boundaries set by society. I really like the way you focus on the idea of the male identity and how that is threatened by the female robot, introducing societal expectations for both gender and machinery. The idea of an “inorganic,” as you put it, object becoming living or animate is really quite interesting. Great job.

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