Equal Rights for Androids and Humans

Equal Rights for Androids and Humans The concept of equality among all people was, unfortunately, not “self-evident” until the passengers on the Mayflower proclaimed it in 1620. A section of the Mayflower Compact reads, “…and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices…”. (Commanger, 23) Written in 1776, the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” (US Declaration Ind. This phrase echoes the same beliefs as those expressed in the Mayflower Compact. Efforts to achieve equality among all Americans have continued to this day. The concept of equality has not been ignored by Hollywood, either. The concept of equality has been a central theme in various popular films over the years. One such film is Bicentennial Man. The theme of Bicentennial Man challenges the viewer to question where they think the line of equality ought to be drawn. Throughout history, humans have struggled with this concept.

Naturally, individuals desire to be the best, and they try to distance themselves from those who are not the same; the homeless, the handicapped, people from different cultures, or those that look different. The film approaches this idea in a different manner because Andrew, the android “star” of the film, is not a person. It takes Andrew a period of two hundred years (hence the name of the movie, Bicentennial Man) to convince the World Government that he did, in fact, have a soul and should be considered an equal. Columbus, Bicentennial Man) The film’s idea of android equality is not (yet) an issue needing to be addressed in American society. The film’s concept of equality does, however, resemble the real challenges of human equality faced by many Americans throughout history. At the start of the movie, it was established that Andrew only existed to serve and obey his owners, the Martin family. His only purpose was to obey the commands of and attend to the needs of this family. Jeremy Bentham, a political theorist, believes this is an example of the concept of utilitarianism.

In simple terms, utilization is using an object (or people) “as a tool” to achieve a goal. (Nelson, 205). A word that could be used interchangeably with utilitarianism is, of course, slavery. Bicentennial Man evaluation of android equality is a clear reflection of the challenges of equal rights faced by many Americans throughout the history of the nation. In the film, Andrew Martin, the android, fought for 200 years in order to be declared equal to the humans he once served.

In the real history of America, however, African-Americans fought for more than 300 years for equal rights as Americans. If only reality was a swift as Hollywood! Works Cited: Bicentennial Man. Dir. Chris Columbus. Perf. Robin Williams and Embeth Davidtz. Radiant Productions, 1999. DVD. Mayflower Compact. November 11, 1620. Documents of American History. Ed. Henry S. Commanger. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1968. Nelson, Brian. Western Political Thought From Socrates to the Age of Ideology. 2nd. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

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