Thursday, August 9, 2012

Futurama: The Importance of Free Will

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

Free will is one of those concepts that kids love to learn about. Before we can truly understand the facets of the idea, we think of it just like free speech and freedom of religion... meaning we try to use these to our advantage in getting our way and disobeying. Of course, it never occurred to me to take the opposite route like Bender! I mean, his attorney argues that, because robots don't have free will (much like children, really), crimes can't possibly be their fault, as they just do what they've been programmed to do. I thought that the lead-up was too long, though... Bender is always doing bad things, so why come up with a huge story about enrolling in college, borrowing tuition, getting hooked on drugs, and doing whatever it takes for money just so Bender goes to court? Maybe it's because Bender is far from my favorite character, but the merits of this episode only barely matched the downfalls. Oh, and about that opening line? Why wouldn't you want to show this episode to horses? LoL!

Futurama "Free Will Hunting" (S07E09): Bender goes out in nerd glasses and another robot invites him to a sorority party, he needs to be a college student. Of course, in order to attend Columbiac, he has to borrow $10,000 at 10,000% interest from the robot mafia. [the mafiolios sometimes have great episodes... but not necessarily today.] Within 32 seconds, Bender manages to drop out and join a gang, and he only gets back $1,000 of his tuition because of the damage he did "to the dean's wife." [... I don't even want to know.] Fights, tattoos, and a rival gang all come about in a matter of minutes, so Bender turns to "spark" to get high. But he needs money, and without even five bucks, he resorts to vomiting on someone for money. [again, I don't want to know!] Bender realizes that he's been making some bad life choices after the robot mafia beat him up for not paying back his loan, but it doesn't matter all that much. He turns around and fights some young girls selling cookies, landing himself in court.

His lawyer, a Foghorn Leghorn sound-alike, argues that robots don't have free will, so they can't make their own decisions. Bender is released and has to go on a delivery because it's on robot planet who hate humans and free will. [of course things work out so this would take place just afterward!] Bender is depressed and doesn't want to leave, so he mopes about the planet, stumbles into a bunch of monks (led by Ab Bot), and talks about the dooms of not having free will. [I liked the abbot joke.] He's told that they can take pleasure in the ritual of autonomy, and Bender join the Monk outfit by putting on a monk outfit. [yes, seriously. laugh a little and move on.]
photo credit: Futurama TM and © 2012 Twentieth
Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Bender is at peace by the time he is initiated, but when he learns that robots have a "free will" slot (just in case "Mom" ever succeeded in making an upgrade available), he strips and takes off for home. He interrupts Fry and Leela, demanding that they help him break into Mom's and steal a "free will unit." Bender acts as if he can't make decisions on his own, but he does most of the planning while Leela and Fry just follow along. [loved the reference to the shapes/blocks game. proving that Bender thinks on his own was kinda funny, though.] "Mom" says that the free will chip was developed by Farnsworth, but he didn't like the idea that robots might take over, so he's hidden the chip. [OF COURSE it would relate back to him. figures.] Bender goes make the Professor give it to him, but he made the robots incapable of picking up the unit! [I thought that this was silly.] Apparently, Bender also can't harm the Professor... until he puts in the chip and Bender shoot him. [... and I just sit here shaking my head!] Bender is back in court under an attempted murder charge and is found guilty... meaning that robots can can possess free will, even if only via a special chip. [still, everyone cheering was odd.]
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