‘Westworld’ Producers Discuss That Fabled Orgy, and the Park’s Rules [Updated]

     October 31, 2016

westworld-dissonance-theory

What’s fascinating and a little horrifying about Westworld is that the fabled large-scale orgy in “Contrapasso” was the least interesting thing that happened. It was even a little dull. But HBO being HBO, there has to be some kind of big sex scene or I’m not sure the show is allowed to continue (HBO has also had a thing for orgies recently). “Contrapasso’s” orgy was, at best, background noise. Maybe it’s because nudity and sexuality on the show has been pointedly sterile and aesthetic up until this point, or maybe it’s because as modern viewers this isn’t anything new or shocking (lord knows if you’ve been watching Starz for the last several years this is nothing compared to what has been shown over there).

In any case, EW spoke with show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy about the scene, which had been teased since early promos for the show and also is surely part of that “genital to genital touching” stuff we heard to much about. Nolan said he felt the scene was “was hugely ambitious and beautifully shot,” while Joy went on to explain the need for it:

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Image via HBO

They go to Pariah, and you know in a park like this there’s going to be an area that has more to do with sensual pleasure. So in an episode like that, nudity is a part of it. One of the things that was important to me in is that while some of it might be kinky, it was still sensual and pleasant looking, that it wasn’t a really dark place. It’s more like where you go to live out your fetishistic dreams. And part of that is seeing it through Dolores’ eyes. It’s new to her, she’s never seen things like this before, and it’s strange and scary and different for her. But for a lot of the hosts there, they were designed to act as pleasure hosts.

Frankly, Black Mirror‘s “San Junipero” episode had a better suggestion of what a depraved psycho-sexual “Quaqmire” (as it was called in the series) might look like. And it was supposed to be kinky and not dark, as Joy comments, then why have it set in Pariah which is established as a fairly hellish place? It also once again speaks to the gender politics of Westworld that the orgy catered specifically to male heterosexual fantasy with naked (gold painted) women by the boatload. Oh, another Eyes Wide Shut-inspired scene? Yawn.

Update: The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has issued a statement on Westworld, in particular response to producer Richard J. Lewis’s comments to THR, saying:

“The latest episode was replete with gratuitous depictions of female nudity, and included an orgy depicting several explicit sex acts, as well as a scene focusing on exposed male genitalia. I would love to hear Richard Lewis explain to me how these scenes reflect a ‘modicum of taste.’ No plot necessitates this level of explicit depictions of sex acts and nudity. In fact, one wonders if HBO producers are capable of creating plots that don’t depend on pornography for shock value. What the creators of Westworld don’t understand, is that graphic sexual scenes are not artful or compelling. Instead, they are toxic fodder for our societal crisis of using people—especially women—as sexual objects, and minimizing the sexual trauma or violence that can result. The creators of Westworld and executives at HBO need to start focusing on plotlines instead of prurient and pornographic scenes that objectify women and men.”

To completely shift gears, in the EW artcle the producers also spoke about the park rules regarding who can get hurt, and how, which has been one of the biggest questions so far (for instance, could William have really gotten hurt if Dolores has blown up the nitro?)

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Image via HBO

As you get further out the violence becomes more real but doesn’t leave a lasting mark. It’s all part of the dance. You’re meant to get a more visceral experience so the violence gets edgier and edgier. I remember going to Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls. Before the Running of the Bulls, they have the Running of the Cows — it’s a different part that nobody ever talks about because it’s just a bunch of cows running with no horns so you can’t get gored. It’s like the novice version. But for the people who go back to Pamplona who really come for the thrill, not only do they want to run with the actual bulls, but they want to wait for the last minute possible to start running because they want to feel like the bull is right on their back; they want the actual possibility of danger. So these people are thrill seekers who want to push the limit. So even though the environment is still safe they want to feel like it’s not.

Another great clue about the world outside of the park was the reference to VR by one of the techs:

What we’re hinting at there, is that the Westworld park is for the folks in this world who are monied. For everyone else, you have an evolution of the VR that we’re already starting to see become more and more part of gaming; it’s the cheaper version. For the lower-paid techs, they can’t play in the park, but they can play in a virtual version of this world or any other.

Finally, the two spoke to Dolores’ awakening, and the voice she hears. Is she actually acting because of a burgeoning consciousness, or simply because the voice is telling her to act? (Sort of like how Ford seems to have a wordless control of the androids). Joy said,

She seems to be growing into her own personhood and making her own choices. But at the same time she’s hearing this voice and it makes you question how much of this is actually her doing. Westworld is a bit of a Russian nesting doll of reality. You are meant to struggle with that and wonder.

Nolan added:

Lisa and I think about this all the time in our lives. We got to work every day and the schedule is laid out for you, and you start to feel like your life is quite programmed. And you start to think about how much of your life is free will

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