Ep.41: The Cyber House Rules (Notes)

  • Kirk, a boy from Leela’s orphanarium, made fun of Leela for having only one eye:
    “My eyes may not work, but at least I have two of them!” which goes to show that despite all of the absurdity of the future, constraints of “inclusions” and “exclusion” still predominate. What is important is not the working value of something but whether or not the aesthetic value and if it aligns with the status quo of the dominant. As a moral, this foreshadows Leela’s operation to have her eye cut into two, though only one functions. This inclusion-exclusion principle is enacted again when during Leela’s second flashback of the episode, a French boy mocks the young Leela by saying “Stupid as a French guy”. Again, the discourse of the dominant overrides subjectivity if it means inclusion and shows itself again when the grown blind boy is revealed to be deaf as well and no one hinders his inclusion (later, Leela presses his hands to her face after her surgery and “Cane Boy” is depressed at recognizing that Leela has two eyes now, suggesting that the inclusion-exclusion praxis is an overriding social aspect of living in the future to the point where people try to harm– “No one tried to burn me!”– one another if they do not conform).
  • Bender’s Adoption: lured in by the promise of a hundred bucks a week per child, Bender adopts twelve orphans, the idea being that by thieving and abuse, he will make a handsome profit. Together with the fact that “Cookieville Minimum Security Orphanarium” is built like a prison, and the existence of suicide booths, we have to ask ourselves what the population is like in the future; is there overpopulation, hence the existence of suicide booths or is there under-population, hence the security surrounding orphans? I think one such explanation would hone in on the existence of suicide booths as a regulation of power (see, Michel Foucault) while orphans and their security, as an extension of that power– orphans could be the result of so many parents committing suicide. Accordingly, the state then steps in and regulates the raising of the orphans for low-wage menial jobs while robots fill in any labor shortages while the new underclass is still coming of age.
  • Amy remarks that she had “Cuteness Reduction Surgery”. Aesthetically, this is an interesting modification to the inclusion-exclusion principle as it suggests that if one is too pretty, that can upset the status quo and exclude one from the body politic. Thus, aesthetics predominate in all sectors of life and class.
  • Fry is the only character who sees through the aesthetic regime of the future and fights to make Leela see how she is perfectly well already. Later, Fry says that “Leela, there’s nothing wrong with anything” as proof that he is the anti-inclusion-exclusion partisan.
  • At a point in the episode, viewers may wonder if Adlai is truly a middle-man of the sort he alleges to be or if he is just pretending; the point in the episode where his behavior is confirmed as legitimate is when he asks Leela on a date after he had just gotten back from having one of his Hawaiian shirt’s toned down. Such is an intriguing point for his character since in how overblown the future is there is still people who find their identity firmly in the middle or center and decline fringes. It is also interesting though because Leela’s relationship with him marks Leela as aggressively average, which is a bit of a fringe-center position.
  • When Leela remarks to Zoidberg that most doctors are wealthy, Zoidberg reacts angerly and is a sign that for much of his professional life had been scammed by assorted firms; this is confirmed in later episodes when Mom offhandedly says that a young Zoidberg is “the best… in the budget department”. His status as a Jewish-encoded Decapodian likely contributes to his super-exploitation.
  • When Leela becomes overwhelmed with stimulus, she cannot articulate full sentences and instead can only utter individuals words which form the primary nouns of the sentences. This happened once before in an episode where Nibbler was entered into a pet contest.
  • Bro-Romance: Bender and Fry’s domestic life mimics that of a homosexual relationship. Bender even calls Fry “ma”, albeit in a mildly sarcastic manner. Fry is also encoded as feminine in his whining about not being able to afford new cabinets. It is tempting to say that Fry is the submissive in the relationship if not for in a later episode we see Bender casually doing the dishes which suggests that traditional gender roles do not accord much emphasis.
  • Bender is not a very good father at the start of the episode, especially since he feeds the kids cat burgers, but it is suggested that he becomes better; later, after he puts the kids to sleep in the apartment, he adds up the total and among the charges is food and bunny rabbit wallpaper. This causes his expenses to amount to a hundred and ten dollars per month per kid, which means he spends around twelve-hundred dollars on the kids. Not much, but since he is a bending robot and presumably doesn’t know the specifics of childcare, this is actually a rather dramatic improvement and at the minimum means that a robot’s programming is flexible in certain cases.
  • Racism: is Leela and Adlai racist? When a young Black girl is trotted out before them, both Leela and Adlai appear conflicted over whether they want her despite the fact that she has no discernable mutations; Bender does price her at five-hundred dollars, which in itself is a rather morbid recall to the slave auctions of the past, but no other orphans have prices so it is hard to tell. I feel it is racism.
  • The girl with an “As Is” banner is revealed to have both a third ear on her forehead as well as having a tail. Later in the series, and spoiler alert, we learn that Leela is not an alien but a mutant whose parents left her in the orphanarium to lead a normal life since she was so little mutated. Surely, other mutant parents must have thought the same thing of their offspring and done the same before Leela’s parents. I feel this girl is a mutant as well. // As an aside, this girl reveals that Adlai is an inclusion-exclusion partisan when he is adamant that the girl is abnormal (“Alright, if you really want that one, I can give her an operation to make her acceptable”).
  • Bender, at the end of the episode, “donates” the orphans and cash back to the orphanarium as part of an obvious legal deal to avoid jail time, but with the orphans having learned various criminal actions and suffering abuse, I wonder to what degree this affects their behavior in future episodes. It is not, to my knowledge, ever shown, but one does reflect that his influence must have resulted in a new generation of at least mildly dishonest kids or crooks.

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