Looks like Christina Aguilera is the latest in a long line of pop divas that will be shedding her human skin to reveal the robot within. Aguilera’s latest album, Bionic, is set to hit stores in June, and features the singer with half a cyborg face alongside her more sultry human one. This is a growing phenomenon. There’s been a long line of chart-topping female musicians donning robot garb to garner attention and I think they’re hitting on one of the public’s more excitable nerves. Performers transforming into singing automatons is a sign that robots, cyborgs, and other high tech creations are square in the group consciousness. Could these pop divas be heralding in a new age of robot-centered culture? Check out the pics and videos below and judge for yourself.
It’s rare, but occasionally I do lift my head out of the science and technology sand and look around into pop culture. What I’m seeing is a rise in the baseline awareness and cultural acceptance of technology. We like our smart phones, our computers, and our online social networking. It’s part of who we are now. The music industry knows that, too.
Christina Aguilera may be going cyborg, but others have been there first. Beyonce’s Single Ladies music video featured a robotic glove that the singer proceeded to wear at every public appearance for months after. Before that, Beyonce appeared in full robotic attire at a BET awards ceremony. On tour, one of her more popular numbers similarly featured her rising from the stage to have a robotic suit peel away from her body:
Of course, that stage number was probably based on an earlier Kylie Minogue performance that was featured prominently on her own tour (skip to 2:20):
Even costumes that aren’t robotic in appearance can make a huge splash by incorporating robotic movement. Lady Gaga, always the trend topper when she can’t be the trend setter, debuted an outfit dubbed “the living dress” during her Monster Ball tour. The articulated costume moved in a very robotic fashion and was met with incredible enthusiasm by the audience.
You can’t escape the fact that Aguilera and these other singers aren’t just selling robot motifs, they’re also selling sexiness. Divas aren’t simply dressed up as machines, they’re portrayed as sexy machines. Which is probably par for the course in the music industry. Still, it’s hard to watch some of these robotic numbers and not wonder if there’s a certain fetishism at work here. Are performances like this whetting the public appetite for the day when we’ll eventually have robots that provide humans with sex acts? That might be a stretch. More than likely we’re seeing two related phenomenon. The widely accepted adage that “sex sells” is being coupled to a new adage: “technology sells.” Put the two together and you have a big part of the motivation behind these divas taking the metallic plunge.
There are few symbols of technology as potent as robots – they’re the ultimate combination of the appearances of humanity and machine. When we see cultural icons taking on the appearance of robots it is a sign of technology’s growing role in our society. Technological acceptance may shape how we adjust to a future shaped by the unexplored realms of accelerating sciences. In other words, you can gawk at the pretty singers in the robot costumes now, but the not so distant tomorrow is going to be filled with spectacles that are far more advanced, alien, and exciting. …We’ll probably think these new technological wonders are pretty sexy, too.
[image credits: ChristinaAguilera.com, Kevin Mayer/Getty, Celebrifi]