Daily Archives: April 7, 2021

The iMom (2014)

*. Not an entirely new idea. If you read much science fiction you’ll know that the adoption of AI robots into our lives as part of the increasingly complicated “Internet of things” became something of a staple in the 2010s. So here we have a company that delivers live-in robot nannies to couples who have no interest in being parents. What could go wrong?
*. You can be sure things do go wrong, and this is tagged as a horror short though its horror all comes with the twist at the end. Up to that final reveal it’s more like a techno-satire, with the infomercial testimonials playing like the funny ads from the future in movies like Robocop. But there’s a darker undertow in the news programming that’s filled with nothing but war, monster storms, and terrorist attacks. With the world out there such a scary place, who wouldn’t want their home to be a little oasis of peace and calm? Or do the networks who own the news stations also make iMoms? Come to think of it, just what is news and what is advertising?
*. Another note of darkness comes by way of the Biblical-mythic notes that are struck. We will know false prophets by their fruit. Wolves wear sheep’s clothing. Which is referring to . . . iMom? She represents the sinister way technology creeps into our lives, seemingly making our lives better but then exacting a terrible (or Biblical) price. Indeed, is iMom one of the of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, a domestic catastrophe on par with the war and plague that suffuses the news feeds?
*. It’s hard to read her that way, since what happens is the result of a random accident, what seems to be a power surge caused by the storm. This complicates any interpretation. Einstein’s line about how technology has “exceeded our humanity” is provided as an epigraph, but iMom doesn’t represent AI taking over. She hasn’t exceeded humanity so much as moved in to provide a humanity that the parents now lack, and she doesn’t take over so much as break down. Even she knows that she’s neither wolf nor sheep but just a device programmed to perform certain tasks, her “fruits,” without thought or feeling. She isn’t good or bad. The problem is that she’s been left in charge of too much, humans having abdicated responsibility for everything that’s most important. Even the son’s sexual coming of age, we sense, is going to be taken care of by the fetching figure of iMom. Meanwhile, you think those security cameras are going to help keep tabs on things? The killer is inside the house!
*. Not an anti-tech parable then, but an anti-human one. The glossy look of the film plays well against the sketchier television clips, suggesting again that blurring of the line between advertising and content (iMom is even better than the real thing!). I was led to wonder if there was any limit to the kid’s “screen time” when the house itself was so pervaded by screeniness. Come to think of it, why wasn’t realMom working from home? Why would she even want to go outside? It’s scary out there.