I’ve seen the Future, And it’s Stepford

In Beastly & Beautiful, My Feminism by Louisa Leontiades

When Joanna Eberhart, protagonist of the 1975 chilling feminist statement “The Stepford Wives”, glides down the supermarket aisle transformed into a robotic parody of her once vibrant self, the feminist in me riles in helpless fury. But my guess is that the film touches a deep nerve in any woman sensitive to male oppression (and let’s face it, that’s most of us).

Still, we couldn’t have suspected that 50 years on something similar would have been achieved. Or, that the man behind it William Bartlett – like those of husbands of Stepford – has little concern over the questionable ethics or resurrecting robots of dead women.

Audrey Hepburn is seen here in CGI glory advertising a bar of galaxy chocolate. And at first this seems relatively innocuous. But appearances (as we know from Stepford) can be deceiving. Perhaps if she been advertising something a little more controversial then more people would have given due consideration to the ethics behind the digital recreation of a dead person who, by definition has no say in how their image or voice is used. But Audrey and her penchant for chocolate are the thin end of the wedge. I predict it’s only going to get worse.

Another [male] commentator is similarly impressed with the advert. David J Miller’s starstruck focus lies on the technological breakthrough and a thinly veiled preoccupation with his own mortality

But multiple technologies are coming together to deliver all the components necessary to construct a digital person. In fact, in time there will likely be services that help capture as many physical nuances about a person before they die so that future generations can see that person as an avatar — or at least their great children. In its own way, it is a means of cheating death.

Videos like this point to a future where social interactions take place seamlessly between the living, the deceased, and the completely contrived. Will it matter? Probably not, especially if we’re surrounded by legends of film. 

Another Dead Legend Brought Back to Life with Technology – this time its Audrey Hepburn

Why would anyone be concerned with their own image? What next will they make dead Audrey do?

The use of Audrey’s image was authorized by Hepburn’s sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti (for which of course they will have been paid). They say their mother would be “proud” of her new role, adding in a press release that she “often spoke about her love of chocolate and how it lifted her spirit” [The Independent UK].

The ad is the unoriginal white knight rescuing a damsel in distress. The Galaxy vision for Audrey was that rescued damsels should treat their rescuers as servants. Just for shits and giggles of course. No mention–of course–that Audrey was a lifelong sufferer of eating disorders…(think about that).

That the big brands use celebrity association to push more sales. In fact with the notable exception of the old“it’s-not-for-girls” Yorkie positioning, which on serves to support the women-weak, men strong patriarchal stereotype, there’s not a chocolate bar that hasn’t been sold by women. Women in overflowing baths, women voicing over bunny rabbits, women having a private moment in the closet with an oversized ice-cream. But if a woman loves chocolate, she doesn’t necessarily want to advertise it. Or be portrayed as a manipulative flirt whilst doing so. But whether Audrey is happy with how she is portrayed, or would have given her own consent for such an advert I guess we’ll never know, because she never gave her consent. And isn’t that really the point?

This article was originally published on Technorati.