ROBOTS: Almost every wife in Stepford, Connecticut
QUOTE: “I won’t be here when you get back! … There’ll be somebody with my name! And she’ll cook and clean like crazy, but she won’t be me! … She’ll be like one of those robots in Disneyland!”
—Joanna Eberhardt, a new arrival to Stepford, trying to explain her conspiracy theory to a psychiatrist.
Robot movies often terrify, none perhaps in the manner of The Stepford Wives, which explored a man’s ideal mate and a feminist’s worst nightmare. This film introduced a completely new robot concept to the big screen: a human reproduction equal parts Doris Day and Playboy Bunny. For female moviegoers still reeling from Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique, these household sexbots are the ultimate enemy, wholly consumed by vanity, cleanliness, cooking and pleasure. What’s worse, these robo-Barbies look so realistic their own children don’t even notice the difference.
Imagine the horror of liberated mother and wife Joanna Eberhardt, who reluctantly leaves Manhattan to settle down in suburban Stepford, Conn., with her husband and two kids. Joanna blames water contamination for the hyper-domestic behavior until she watches one of her neighbors malfunction — freakishly repeating the same household task over and over again (while eerily simulating the tedious repetition of domestic chores).
But the Stepford robots are not the real enemy, men are the true problem — the Stepford husbands to be exact. While the men belong to the Stepford Men’s Association, the women belong nowhere. In this film, if you’re a woman (human or otherwise), you’re doomed.
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