Tuesday, June 10, 2008
OK, I feel like an idiot. The central metaphor of "Burgerdroid" is not about the human/machine interface. It's all about how the drudgery of mundane day-to-day life saps our artistic and creative impulses. Elsa is an artist, a ballerina. To make ends meet, she essentially takes a (glorified) job flipping burgers. Her "robot" act, and even her costume, represent the walls that go up around a person to protect them from the outside world, but can inhibit emotional connections. She realizes that she can't dance as she used to (all her movements are too robotic now), and when she begins a romantic interlude with one of her co-robots, their costumes literally get in the way until they "come to their senses" and give it up. Basically, the day-to-day drudgery of her job has cost Elsa her artistic self and her ability to make real attachments to others, all in the name of making ends meet. This story would be just as true set in a McDonalds instead of a "Burgerdroid." In this context the nihilistic ending, which I'm still trying desperately not to spoil, makes much more sense.
I suppose I could "cover" by saying that it's admirable that the story can be read on multiple levels, that it's as much about the cultural and social oppression of the working class as it is about female cyborgs and the human/machine interface, but really I feel pretty stupid for missing the metaphor that was the glaringly obvious one. Mea culpa! It's all part of my learning process.