A Brief History of Gay Androids




OPEN TO NEW EXPERIENCES? Wall-E

An opera version of Brokeback Mountain. Same-sex marriage in California. Madonna's new album. America is, by any reasonable measure, getting its gay on. And nowhere is this more apparent than when it comes to robots.

Take Wall-E, the new movie about an ostensibly male robot's romance with an ostensibly female visitor robot. Seems hetero enough, sure. Yet, on a closer inspection, Wall-E's story of overcoming isolation and social awkwardness in a new, fast-moving cosmopolitan world seems like a classic coming-out tale.

Of course, film and television provide a rich history of androids, most of them far more fey than Wall-E. Below, Radar dusts the glitter off its homometer and gauges the gayness of some of America's most beloved (and sexually ambiguous) robots.

HOMOMETER
0: Asexual
1: Steak and beer
5: Bisexual
10: Flaming


C-3PO and R2-D2

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Star Wars
SEXUALITY: For closeted robots lacking upstanding role models in the media, C-3PO was a shining (and shiny) pioneer, and, as this magazine previously noted in its exploration of gayface: “The fussy drone's permanently agog eyes suggest a certain feyness.”

As for R2? The dependable handy-droid might come off as genderless, but we detect in the high-pitched beeps a certain fondness for his gold-plated friend.

HOMOMETER RATING: 9



HAL 9000

PLACE OF ORIGIN: 2001: A Space Odyssey
SEXUALITY: HAL 9000, actually an artificially intelligent supercomputer and not quite a robot, kept the company of two attractive young male astronauts. Plainly speaking, HAL was the Perez Hilton of the robot world—prone to queeny fits of jealousy and rage. He even intentionally killed all but one of the crew members after discovering that they were instructed to turn him off.

HOMOMETER RATING: 7



THE IRON GIANT

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Movie of the same name, derived from the novel The Iron Man.
SEXUALITY: Brawny, steel-encased, and voiced by Vin Diesel. Like a robot Superman (the Man of Steel himself), but without the skin-tight uniform, bulging underwear, and devastating handsomeness. Bottom line: Robot sexuality may exist on a continuum, with the Iron Giant leaning toward the ladies.

HOMOMETER RATING: 2


GIGOLO JOE

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Artificial Intelligence: A.I.
SEXUALITY: Come on. A prostitute android played by the dandy Jude Law who ventures on a fantastical journey with a young boy to find the “Blue Fairy”—is it hard to believe that Gigolo Joe wouldn’t put out for both PCs and Macs?

HOMOMETER RATING: 9


DATA

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Star Trek: The Next Generation
SEXUALITY: Data, a lieutenant commander android in the employ of Starfleet, first comes to feel human “emotion” after he asphyxiates a male enemy to death, an experience he characterizes as "pleasurable." His first sexytime is with security officer Tasha Yar (RIP), but his enjoyment of guy-on-guy S&M activities shows that he could probably swing both ways.

HOMOMETER RATING: 5



ROSIE THE ROBOT MAID

PLACE OF ORIGIN: The Jetsons
SEXUALITY: We can't help but think that the Jetsons' robot maid Rosie reminds us of ... another Rosie. One who also enjoys sensible clothing and is quick with the jokes. Although Rosie the robot did at one point have a robot boyfriend, he was tragically deactivated, leading her, we must presume, to find sapphic solace in the arms of robot women.

HOMOMETER RATING: 9



SMARTERCHILD

PLACE OF ORIGIN: AOL Instant Messenger
SEXUALITY: When asked if he was gay, SmarterChild said he’d “rather not discuss personal matters.” Though he might be closeted, his lackluster demeanor made us think he lacks discernible sexuality. Another way it made us feel: extremely dirty.

HOMOMETER RATING: 0 (asexual)


TIN MAN

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Oz
SEXUALITY: The Tin Man's earnest quest for emotional openness (i.e., heart) makes him a candidate for the velvet mafia, but his ill-fitting costume and lumberjack past are also strong hetero indicators. Pushing him over the midpoint: He’s literally a friend of Dorothy.

HOMOMETER RATING: 6



BENDER

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Futurama
SEXUALITY: Bender is the Tucker Maxx of robots—a beer-guzzling, relentlessly heterosexual, immoral asshole who is at the same time disgustingly charming.

HOMOMETER RANKING: 1


JOHNNY 5

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Short Circuit
SEXUALITY: Johnny 5's story speaks for itself. After a power surge strikes, the binocular-eyed robot gains a consciousness of his own and wanders away from the military center that built him. When he learns that the military won't accept his uniqueness, Johnny 5 vows to defy their repressive policies and never go back.

In the end, he shacks up with two hippies (his creator, who believes that robots should play music, and a would-be PETA activist) in Montana.

HOMOMETER RANKING: 8.5


WALL-E

PLACE OF ORIGIN: Pixar movie of the same name.
SEXUALITY: Male Wall-E, a gawky, clumsy, and curious robot, is love-struck when the sleek female EVE shows up on the deserted, garbage-filled apocalyptic earth.

In the words of director Andrew Stanton, Wall-E is “the story of a simple, boxy tractor that falls in love with a Porsche.” Car love? Okay, that’s pretty damn straight.

HOMOMETER RATING: 4

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