Ep.19: The Lesser of Two Evils (Notes)

  • Future TV: “Cop Department” as a parody of Cops; here, Futurama satirizes the implicit racism of the show by writing the announcer as saying “most of [the victims] aren’t even people” (i.e., non-human aliens).
  • Past-O-Rama: with the history of the past forgotten, Fungineers guess on what the past was like based off of artifacts. This is represented most hilariously here with an assortment of figures and slang utilized in the same period: Albert Einstein, mammoth hunting, “dudes”, and disco dancing all share in the same period. Supposedly, New York traffic jams were “a public forum for the free interchange of opinion”. Also, the Koch brothers, evidently, have a cathedral, a fun jab at their meddling in politics and education. Yet, when it comes to concrete details such as parking meters, nobody knows the exact function since the smaller details of interconnectivity has not been preserved. All of this is a wonderful commentary on how history is written in relation to historical memory and ruling ideology.
  • Fry’s clothes: from “Miller’s Outpost”. Is this a store in real life?
  • Bender uses the term “bro-bot”; is this supposed to be a stand-in for “Brother” in the Black sense of the word or “bro” in the fraternity White Guy sense of the word? Only is worth asking since the status of robots and whether they are likened as a race is in question.
  • Robosexuality: Outside of the robot strip club, there is an advertiser handing out tickets to human males. Suggests in addition to the exhaust that the club is seedier than initially let on. When Fry comments “look at that exhaust fan”, Bender derides him saying, “pervert”.
  • Mexico: aside from, apparently, being in America’s heartland (imperialist invasion?), robots are built en mass in Mexico for MOM. This comes up in later seasons with Bender. Later in the episode, we learn that “space banditos” are a presence for shippers to avoid; what does this fascination with Mexican identity suggest for the Futurama universe?
  • Jumbonium: a rare atom worth more than $150,000. Is placed on top of a “dime-store tiara” (the “Atomic Tiara”). A Sly way to suggest that the contest cheapens human physicality.
  • Bender outranks Fry. Interesting since Fry is a delivery boy but Bender is the chef. One figures that Fry would outrank Bender but it seems this is not the case.
  • In the Miss Universe pageant, Contestants are allowed to be composed of “50% implant” (as according to the sign out front forbidding anything over fifty-percent).
  • Bender is revealed to be fashion conscious as seen through his wearing of the scarf, turtleneck, and ascot.
  • Bob Barker is the host of the Miss Universe pageant.
  • Culture: a “traditional gangster rap” was to be performed by one of the contestants; is this in any way connected to a short scene later is the franchise where when Bender travels through time, he steals the award given to the man who solved the fighting between East and West coast rappers? Have gangs, at least on Earth, become irrelevant and so part of certain groups culture as reification took its toll?
  • Morality: Fry declares that “how can I live my life when I can’t tell good from evil?” Bender responds with “both [are] fine choices, whatever floats your boat”. Morality, then, in the future, has become not relevant to the everyday life and might not exist (Fry’s moral attitude may be a holdover from his life in the year 2000). This is backed up by Flexo’s wrongful imprisonment (later, we learn that Felxo holds no ill-will from this wrongful lockup). The episode name also backs it up some with declaring that among Bender and Flexo, both are evil; does this suggest that all robots are evil? If so, then what is the measure of evil?
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