Blog providing articles and introductory guides to Socionics, the theory of personality type.
Sunday, 20 March 2016
Westworld (1979): Socionics Analysis
I have re-watched 'Westworld' recently, the 1973 film directed and
written directly for the screen by Michael Crichton. I was struck by how
the movie's basic assumptions, so to speak, as well as those of the main
character, fit the psychology of LIEs.
From other evidence, I
think that Crichton was a LIE, so I'm not using the movie as a tool to
type him - I intend to show how his type was reflected in the story and
characters as he wrote them. As he was the writer as well as director,
we can safely attribute the movie, as shot, mainly to him (although it
seems that his original script was longer and more detailed).
Obviously, as I discuss the movie, there will be *SPOILERS* for those who haven't watched it yet.
Those who know the movie, or can't be bothered to read the plot
summary, may skip the next 9 paragraphs to the Socionics analysis just
Summary: "Westworld" describes a theme-based amusement
park for wealthy adults, inspired by Disney parks, called Delos, with 3
"worlds": Westworld, Roman World, and Medieval World, built in what
seems to be the Arizona desert. There, respectively, an Old West town
(or rather the Hollywood version of one); a classical Roman town like Pompeii;
and a Medieval (maybe 15th century) castle are re-created and populated
by lifelike humanoid robots. Tourists then go into each of those
resorts, dressed accordingly, so not obviously distinguishable from the
robots, to have the following kinds of fun:
Westworld (where most
of the action of the movie takes place): men can enjoy outdrawing robotic gunslingers,
participate in saloon brawls, and have sex with beautiful robotic saloon
girls (who obviously look like supermodels rather than their real old
west counterparts). It's not clear what kind of fun women tourists have
Medieval world (where some of the action is set):
men can challenge, and defeat, knights while seducing the queen and
servant girls, and eating and drinking a lot in banquets.
world (which is just briefly shown) - this seems to appeal more to women
(as per the movie) - essentially sensory forms of pleasure. Again, what
tourists actually do in Roman world is suggested but not really shown.
The plot can be summed up thus: two friends, Peter (Richard Benjamin)
and John (James Brolin), go to Westworld for some fun. Also shown as
secondary characters is a couple with the man going to Medieval world
and the woman to Roman world. In the saloon, Peter is provoked and
challenged by a gunslinger (Yul Brynner); after some hesitation but
prodded by John (whose second visit that is), getting used to it, Peter
outdraws the gunslinger and "kills" him. At night they have fun with the
saloon girls, John apparently not caring that they are robots, with
Peter somewhat pathetically hoping or assuming they're not.
behind the scenes workings of Delos are then shown: at night, workers
collect the damaged or "killed" robots. They are taken to Delos's
underground facilities and repaired - including Yul Brynner's
gunslinger. There are scenes with the engineers discussing how the
robots have started to show malfunction with ever-increasing frequency -
a comparison is even made to a disease or virus (in a 1973 movie!). But
they cannot shut Delos down yet, although they decide not to accept
more guests besides those already there, for the moment. As an example
of malfunction: the above-mentioned guy in Medieval world, starting to
have an affair with the (robotic) queen, tries seducing a maidservant,
who rebuffs him (yet she was a "sex model").
The next day the
gunslinger - "resurrected" - goes after Peter and John at their hotel,
and is "killed" again. Later they participate in a drunken brawl and end
up sleeping in the saloon. Very early next morning, the engineers in
the control center are about to start and supervise the sword duel
between that guy and the "Black Knight" in Medieval world. That goes
wrong quickly: the robot refuses to be easily beaten, the tourist gets
tired, and is then injured and killed by the robot, without the control
room engineers being able to stop him. In desperation, the engineers
shut down "all power", but the robots can continue on battery power, and
all the engineers achieve is to lock themselves up in the control room
with no means of getting out.
In the meantime, in Westworld,
Peter and John wake up in the saloon with a hangover, wander to their
hotel, and are again challenged by the Gunslinger. This time, a bored
John decides to handle him - and is immediately shot twice and killed.
Peter realizes his danger and runs away, pursued by the Gunslinger, who
prefers to walk in a "slow but unrelenting" way. The trapped engineers
can see what's happening in Roman World - the robots have gone berserk
and are killing guests (and maybe each other) with swords, including the
wife of the now-dead guy in Medieval World.
Speeding it up:
Peter flees the gunslinger on a horse across the desert, meets an
engineer who tells him what's going on and gives him a few tips (and is
then shot dead, from a distance, by the gunslinger). Peter finds his way
to Roman World, walks past the dead guests and robots that have run out
of power, finds an entrance to the underground complex - which is now
totally empty, besides the now-suffocated control room engineers (maybe
because it's the quiet shift?). Peter manages to catch the Gunslinger by
surprise and throw hydrochloric acid on his eyes (as that engineer had
suggested), but that only stops the Gunslinger temporarily. The chase
continues, and Peter ends up emerging in the banquet room of Medieval
world - where he finds that tourist with a sword in his belly, and the
robotic queen and Black Knight out of power. The Gunslinger follows him
there, and Peter notices that now he has to rely on infrared vision and
is thus confused by the several torches. As Peter tries to slip away, he
makes noise, so the gunslinger throws himself at him but Peter sets him
on fire with a torch. That is essentially the end of the basic plot of
the movie (there are a couple of surprises but never mind).
Why I think this movie is a reflection of a LIE's mind - for the basic plot, characters, and setting:
P: as in his novels, Crichton is fascinated with how such a complex
would actually work - its nuts and bolts. Quite a few scenes are
relevant not because they advance the plot itself, but because they show
and explain how Delos works.
F: something that is most revealing
is how the fantasies that the (male) tourists indulge in, in both
Westworld and Medieval World, are F related. That is: defeating medieval
knights in sword fights, outdrawing asshole gunslingers, saloon brawls -
but always knowing that they are in no danger of losing or getting
hurt. Until, of course, the malfunctioning robots stop playing along,
and the guests are exposed as incompetent fighters.
F+R - as I
said, Peter, rather pathetically, thinks he can have some sort of human
bond with the saloon robot girl (John, more like an EIE, doesn't seem to care);
while the Medieval world guy actually is having an "affair" with the
queen and tries to seduce maidservants as part of his
Finally: when Peter realizes what is going
on, he prefers to face the Gunslinger using P but never F: he runs away
from the robot, tries to ambush him twice (failing first), using tricks
(like the acid) rather than risk attacking him directly. Yet at no
moment is it suggested that those robots are stronger, faster, or
heavier than humans: indeed, even the Medieval World tourist manages to
disarm the Black Knight at some point during their sword fight. The
robots' physical advantages are enhanced senses and not getting tired -
until their batteries run out. By the time the Gunslinger enters the
banquet hall, he is also without a gun, and Peter had a weapon right in
front of him - the Black Knight's sword. He could, presumably, have used
it to attack the Gunslinger - but he didn't.
Looking at the Delos concept from the perspective of other types:
- F ego types: "so - you get into fights with robots, to 'kill' them -
knowing you can't lose or even risk being hurt? What's the fun in that?
Sounds like something for kids, or wimps".
- Alpha and Delta types -
"so - you think it's fun to pretend that you're actually killing
people, robots that actually look and bleed like people, and the fun is
in pretending they're real? That's sick".
- Ethical types - "ok -- you want to 'seduce' robot girls knowing that they won't refuse you? That's sort of sad".
The way that Crichton wrote and shot it, the film suggests that he was
at least somewhat aware of the ridiculousness of it - but only up to a
So, he created Delos - or at least Westworld and Medieval
World - in a way what would appeal mostly to F-valuing but F-weak men,
and he wrote his "everyman" character, Peter, as a LIE i.e. a projection