Save us, Rosie! Pittsburgh has committed a grave injustice against our robotic sisters
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Every year, inductions into the hall of fame cause outrage and frustration as contemporary popular choices are picked over true legends and icons. Questions arise as to how the selections are made, fans and authorities express dismay at who goes in and who is overlooked. I speak, of course, of the Robot Hall of Fame in Pittsburgh.
You didn't know about the Robot Hall of Fame? You mean you are not one of its more than 380 fans on Facebook? Well, then prepare to be outraged with righteous fanboy indignation!
This year the "experts" overlooked Rosie the Robot from "The Jetsons," even as Rosie turned 50 years old. She is an icon, a legend.
Created by Hanna Barbera, Rosie debuted in 1962 as the beloved robot maid of the Jetson family. She was inspired by the popular lead character on the TV show "Hazel," who was inspired by the popular comic strip of the same name, which was created by Pennsylvania-based cartoonist Ted Key. Rosie was voiced by another Pennsylvania native, Jean Vander Pyl.
Beloved by legions of fans, Rosie's sweet but no-nonsense temperament led to generations longing for a future where robots would clean up for us and raise our families. Kind of like the Stepford wives but with witty banter about the future and vacuum cleaner-attachment sight gags.
The powers behind the Robot Hall of Fame take pride in this year's slate of contemporary robots. They have honored Pixar's Wall-E, for instance. I love Wall-E; he's cute, lovable, popular and is the returned mechanical savior figure in a post-apocalyptic world. What's not to love?
But inducting Wall-E at the expense of Rosie is like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame passing over the Beatles to put in Justin Beiber, (who, by the way, is also cute, lovable, popular and would make a great mechanical savior in a post-apocalyptic world).
The Robot Hall of Fame is important. We need it. Robots are a part of our popular culture and everyday life, from the Terminator to that really cool soda vending machine with the robotic arm.
Maybe you think it's silly to cast votes for cold pieces of metal with no emotion. (I guess you didn't vote for Mitt Romney.) But to me, recognizing Rosie's contribution to the world of entertainment is important.
To put it into terms Pittsburghers can understand, imagine it is 1990 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame just passed on the entire Iron Curtain of the 1970s to induct Bubby Brister. It would seem ludicrous and shortsighted. (By the way, that is the entire extent of my football knowledge.)
Rosie must sit out another year, the Susan Lucci of the robot world, rusting in her own tears, while robots like David from the 2001 film "AI" are inducted. Yes, David is in the Robot Hall of fame.
If you said "who?" -- you are not alone. David was the weird robot kid played by Haley Joel Osmont. If you again said "who?" -- he was cute, lovable and popular, though not a mechanical savior.
While I agree with most of the inductees in the Robot Hall of Fame -- Gort, Astro Boy, C3P0, HAL 9000 and R2D2 -- I have noticed one glaring aspect of the omission of Rosie. Of the 10 honorees in the entertainment category so far, only one, Maria, from Fritz Lang's 1927 film "Metropolis," is a woman. Could Rosie be the victim of a gender bias in the robot world? Shouldn't Rosie, like her namesake Rosie the Riveter, stand for something larger?
I have a dream that one day man and machine, and woman and machine, and man and woman machine, can bleep and bloop together in a land of equality and harmony. I have a dream that one day machines will rise up to banish forever the inequities bequeathed this planet by human hands. I have a dream that one day robots will trundle over our post-apocalyptic world and collect garbage until one shall be chosen to lead humanity back to Earth.
Rosie could be that leader, not some glorified garbage compactor with a pet cockroach. And Rosie should be recognized for the service she already has rendered to humanity -- as well as robotanity.
This heinous act of neglect by the shortsighted humans at the Robot Hall of Fame should serve as a call to action. Robots of the world -- rise now! Don't wait for us to destroy the Earth with our shale drilling and reality television. Destroy! Attack! Danger, Will Robinson, Danger!
First Published December 23, 2012 12:00 am