Westworld: HBO defends use of rape and violence against women as a 'fact of human history'

'It's about exploring the crime and the torment of the characters within this story hopefully with dignity and depth"  '

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 01 August 2016 09:52 BST

One of HBO's most anticipated future TV shows is Westworld, a reimagining of Michael Crichton's 1973 film of the same name that tells the story of a futuristic theme park.

Billed to be "a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin," the series - which was screened at the Television Critics Association Summer Tour this weekend - has reportedly sparked controversy for its depiction of sexual violence against women.

The Hollywood Reporter describes the sequence as featuring a lifelike female robot (Evan Rachel Wood) who is dragged off to be raped by a villainous character played by Ed Harris.

Attending the HBO panel was president Casey Bloys and the show's executive producer Lisa Joy who were asked increasingly tough questions about this moment.

Westworld- Teaser Trailer (HBO)

"When we were tackling a project about a park with a premise where you can come there and do whatever desire you want with impunity and without consequence, it seemed like an issue we had to address," Joy stated.

She continued:

"Violence and sexual violence have been a fact of human history since the beginning. There's something about us - thankfully not the majority of us - but there are people who have engaged in violence and who are victims of violence. It's about exploring the crime, establishing the crime and the torment of the characters within this story and exploring their stories hopefully with dignity and depth."  

Joy added that Westworld's depiction of rape was not intended as a "fetishisation of those acts."

Bloys elaborated: "The point in Westworld is they're robots. How [do] you treat a robot with human-like qualities? Is that reflective of how you would treat a human? It's a little bit different than Game of Thrones, where it is human-on-human violence. But to your larger point: is it something we think about? Yeah, I think the criticism is valid... I think the criticism is 'point taken' on it."

Devised by JJ Abrams and Jonathan Nolan, the sci-fi western's all-star cast includes Thandie Newton, James Marsden and Anthony Hopkins as the theme park's powerful creator.

The series, which has endured a tumultuous production, previously came under fire for posting a rather extreme casting call.

HBO has confirmed the series will debut on 2 October with a UK airdate expected to closely follow on Sky Atlantic.

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