With what was, perhaps optimistically, titled Android Week now coming to a close, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve hashed out the theory:
Androids, being those robots designed specifically to emulate humans, tend to have pretty normal haircuts (appropriate to the time the production they’re found in was made).
Cyborgs, by contrast, being humans who have taken on robotic aspects (often with no choice in the matter) seem almost overwhelmingly to be bald.
That said, there are always going to be exceptions to the rule, and where I encounter those I’ll be sure to throw them up on the blog for the requisite analysis.
There is one element of the Android/Cyborg conundrum we haven’t yet addressed. The truth is, couldn’t really find anything at all to correlate facial hair among androids and cyborgs. In fact, despite Star Trek’s Data’s propensity to don a moustache or even a full beard, there’s precious little content featuring facial hair bedecked robots (or partially robotic humanoids) that I could find.
While Data’s moustaches seem to fit quite neatly into the almost comical categories offered by villains in old Westerns, the beard itself is a little more of a conundrum. It seems, at first glance, to be some sort of a cross between Abraham Lincoln’s beard (which suits the honesty Data espouses in the series) and Riker’s exemplary beard (which we can only assume Data admires).
With all that out of the way, I can say that I think the shot of the T-800 with a beard is actually Osama Bin Laden’s beard. For reasons I can’t possibly explain, that makes me profoundly uncomfortable.
Goodbye, sweet Android Week. Maybe next year…
Continuing on from the previous posts on the haircuts found across the Terminators built by Skynet to be sent back in time, we turn this time to the T-X.
Where the T-800 had been a technologically advanced killing machine with a ruffle of eighties hair, the T-1000 was a liquid metal killing machine with a slicked back haircut suited to its construction; do you have any idea how difficult it is to make hair (and not just any hair, but eighties hair) out of mercury? The computation would be outrageous.
In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, a new model was introduced; the experimental T-X was a solid core surrounded by a liquid metal exterior which served to ease the disguise process, but also maintaining the durability of the T-800-style machines.
The T-X extends the established gradual evolution of the Terminator-series machine haircuts. The evolution begins with Schwarzenegger’s T-800, whose ruff of eighties hair looks almost primitive compared to what was to follow. Patrick’s T-1000 boasts what seems to be a primitive version of the SLICKED BACK MALE 02 (for reasons we’ve already discussed). This line of evolution continues right up to Loken’s depiction of the T-X, whose blonde hair is matted so tightly to the cold metallic skull beneath that it might as well not exist (as you can see in the photo above)
I was initially surprised that the successor to SLICKED BACK MALE 02 would be SLICKED BACK FEMALE 01, but once you take into account the harsh logic of an incalculable machine intelligence like Skynet it certainly seems to make a lot of sense.
The Terminator (that is to say, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s depection of the T-800 model from the 1984 movie, The Terminator) sports another truly excellent case of humanising haircut. It’s a haircut that says,
“Hey, I may very well be a walking wall of muscle and metal endoskeleton that clocks in at more than a metric tonne, but underneath all that we’re all the same. Check out my hair; it’s just such a mess today, there’s nothing I can do with it. God, isn’t life terrible?”
It’s the kind of haircut that makes you sit back and think,
“You know what? Maybe he is a cold, unfeeling killing machine without even the barest understanding of what it is to be human, but on some level, I can relate to that. Who hasn’t had a bad hair day?”
At the same time, he eventually loses his skin and is revealed to have the cold, unadorned skull of that most nightmarish of humanity’s enemies, the
bald man machine. Of course, this happens to coincide with his eventual destruction. He’s succeeded by a far scarier entity in the form of a man with perfect hair.
In many ways, the T-800’s hair is the most intelligent piece of design that Skynet ever managed to deploy. There’s no more sympathetic than a figure with that sort of style in an age before the advent of Surf Hair products.
By contrast, the T-1000 (as portrayed in its primary incarnation by Robert Patrick) features a haircut that communicates an abject lack of humanity. This might seem to run entirely opposite to Star Trek’s Data (who features a near identical haircut, in the form of MALE SLICKED BACK 02), but it seems pertinent to point out that in Data’s case the haircut is the most human feature of an otherwise entirely mechanical character. In the case of the T-1000, it’s the most mechanical portion of an otherwise very human appearance.
What a difference that contextual shift makes; the same haircut can be so cold and sinister on one scalp, but so human on another. Truly a semiotic conundrum… though the case could well be made that the T-1000’s hair is a rendering issue; it seems as though it would be far easier for liquid metal to form itself into slicked back styles than eighties hair.
Data sports another android haircut that seems to have been designed specifically to help him blend in. It’s a simple, straightforward haircut that, among other things, covers all the makeup necessary to hide LED-addled props in his hair. In a break from the examples offered by androids like the Terminator and Ash from Alien, Data wasn’t designed with a human haircut to surrepticiously blend in so much as to help him acclimatise himelf as a human being.
As a result, there’s a certain uncomfortably mechanical feel to the style. In discussions around Star Trek Online’s character creation options, Data’s haircut has been referred to as “Slicked Back 02” (as opposed to “Slicked Back 01,” which we’re told is “a great Major Kira look).
Data’s physical strangeness (his twitchiness, yellow eyes and skin) is curious precisely because it is his hair that humanises him, in precisely the same way as the Borg Queen’s cyborg baldness sets her apart. Consider the freakiness of a bald Data… it doesn’t even bear thinking about. I can’t help but feel they missed a trick not making Lore bald.
Moreover, it’s interesting to note that Data owns a cat, just like the cat in Alien. Coincidence? Probably, but that’s life.
Ash from 1979’s Alien seems to be pretty much the pinacle of “android hair” as I’ve come to think of it (that is to say, artificial hair added to a machine whose primary purpose is the imitation of a human being).
In this case, the hair itself is a sort of a soft grey, kept tight cropped around a head, and indeed a face, so very plain that he couldn’t possibly stick out. Blending in is the name of the game when you’re an android, and it makes an awful lot of sense that the easiest way to seem like a completely ordinary human being is to be completely ordinary.
At the same time, that only really works out until someone splits you open and you start spewing milk everywhere. The one thing I never quite got about Ash, and, by extension, the rest of the androids in the Alien series, was that weird, white milky stuff they have instead of blood.
I wouldn’t have a problem with it at all, if not for the fact that it does such damage to what is, otherwise, a near-perfect android haircut.
Ash also leads me to one of the most fascinating thing I’ve read all day, which was,
James H. Kavanagh places Ash in a Greimasian semantic rectangle to show how the drama of the film is structured around the notion of “human”. Ripley is the human … The alien organism is, naturally, the anti-human … Ash is the not-human … And the anti-not-human is the ship’s cat.
There’s something staggering about Robocop’s fantastic baldness. It goes beyond plain old surface baldness; it’s a sort of a mechanical-skull-deep baldness. It helps to emphasis the extent to which his humanity is subject to the cybernetic implants. Sure, he’s kept his face and manages to look human, but at the same time, he’s been denied the one thing that makes us what we are… divested of the one thing that separates us from animals.
A beautiful haircut.
Moreover, remember that Robocop was made in the eighties, a time in which man had truly mastered hair. We had climbed that mountain, we had feathered the hair of God himself.
We were cast down for our hubris, damned to a decade of nineties hair, but looking at the movies that survived… it was worth it.
Place Robocop in that context, imagine being a product of the eighties and not having hair.
Is it any wonder that we see him in the above gif, smashing a man who has no body, the one person lower on the eighties totem pole than a man without hair? It’s only made more depressing by the fact that, in life, James Murphy had had such wonderful, eighties hair.
With the beginning of a new month, and the return of wintery weather, I’ve decided that it’s time to give the blog a bit of a theme. Today (April first), marks the beginning of the first time I’ll try to chain a few posts together.
The main point of this is to see how well a pet theory holds up. I’d been considering the prominence of androids and cyborgs in science fiction, and a couple of things occurred to me all at once:
Androids: It seems almost universally the case that androids are either made to be as human as possible or deliberately made to look as human as possible so that they can blend in with humans. As a result, they should have really down-to-earth hairstyles that will help them blend in.
See: Data, The Terminator, Ash (Alien), human-form-cylons (not pictured due to spoiler-risk) and Roy Batty (Blade Runner).
[Much as Roy Batty might seem an exception, we must remember him as a product of the eighties]
Cyborgs: Being a mixture of man and machine, cyborgs don’t have to try and look human. For reasons I can’t begin to imagine, they’re often bald.
See: Robocop, Darth Vader, Cyborg (Justice League) and Lobot (Star Wars).
Over the next week or so, I’ll look into some of the more interesting haircuts that mechanical and partially mechanical characters have.
The first of these, pictured above, is Lobot. Lobot is fairly straightforward, being an administrative aide whose mind is linked directly with the network of computers that operate the cloud city. As in the case of Robocop, Lobot had cyborgdom (and the accompanying cyborg-pattern-baldness) thrust upon him, poor lad.
At the same time, I bet he gets killer bass with that biotech-headband.
I always love when science fiction shows take into consideration the idea of a race having some sort of fundamental (sometimes highly visible) morphological disparity between the genders. I suppose Babylon 5’s Centari are a great example once again.
The other day, I marvelled at the strange confluence of a makeup department and designers that resulted in the look of the Centari. I’d like to reiterate the point from that last blog post; the makeup department for Babylon 5 aimed specifically to design alien races that were “more than just a forehead.” You’re doing a bang up job, guys.
Today’s image comes courtesy of John, who recommended that I watch Babylon 5. His comment on the whole business read,
I honestly have no idea […] to make things worse, all centari women are totally bald. It’s certainly alien, I’ll give them that.
In fairness, they’re not completely bald, they’re 95% bald with a very tidy ponytail and a funny headdress.
That’s not so bad.
I’ve also been informed, courtesy of the excellent FuckYeahB5, that the Centari also boast fangs and genital tentacles (an idea that has me all aquiver).
I’ve always wondered about the shift Klingons underwent in the gap between Star Trek (the original series) and The Next Generation.
While I went through a sort of archaeological examination of the Klingon form, I did notice that there were a few morphological variations across a few movies.
I’m told, largely by my friend Eoin, that they make sidelong comments about it at some stage during Deep Space Nine, but I can’t help just being impressed by the idea that they had an idea for some cool makeup/hair and decided it was too good to waste on some new aliens, so they just pasted it onto something they already had going (even if it didn’t really fit).
One of my favourite things about this blog is when someone tells me, “Oh wow, you really have to check out X show, keep and eye out for Y race/character.” This is partially because I love science fiction, and watching it with an eye to upcoming dreadful haircuts gives me a reason to watch more of it than usual.
Apparently, Babylon 5’s makeup department went in with the specific goal of improving science fiction TV shows by making aliens that were more than “just a forehead.” A savvy criticism of other sci-fi shows, certainly, but it makes you wonder when the first thing someone says to you when they tell you to watch a show is, “Don’t mind the Centari.”
The men in the image above are Centari. I’ll be honest, if it were my specific goal to make an alien race that was more than ‘just a forehead,’ I probably wouldn’t have included one whose sole defining characteristic was an enormous forehead…
Oh, and, of course, that hair.