This post has WandaVision spoilers through Episode 4. So don’t read it if you aren’t that far and don’t want spoilers. Also, it’s a damned fun show, you should watch it. It has lighthearted humor mixed with creepy horror and that’s *totally* my jam.
In Rationalist circles there’s a bit of a theoretical/fictional divide between people who want their ultimate endstate to be living in a utopic simulated reality cut off from the rest of the universe, and those who find this horrifying. I’ve always been on the side of those who find it horrifying, in large part because I don’t want my continued existence to be at the mercy of unknown powers that I will never fully trust. One of the arguments on the other side is “but you just don’t realize HOW GOOD a utopia can be!” Now WandaVision has presented me with a truely tempting offer.
A lot of utopias are presented basically like what I think of as a Forever Burning Man. Life is great, everyone is happy, there’s fun things to see and do, and basically there’s no strife or problems. It’s a wonderful experience, and I could do it for months, I think. Maybe even years? But I wouldn’t want to cut myself off from reality for it.
WandaVision, OTOH, takes place in sitcoms. And sitcoms aren’t constrained by things like “having to actually exist” like Burning Man is, so they can really dial up the idealism. Nothing too terrible can happen, and you have a wonderful life full of friendship and love. But there’s still enough conflict to make things seem meaningful, enough aspiring one can do to have a purpose, and sometimes plot twists! You get the fun of “having a job you’re good enough at to be promoted, as long as you can get through a high-stakes dinner with your boss” without the drudgery of doing the job. You never have to poop, unless it’s for a bathroom joke! Life is only the good parts, which doesn’t mean just the pleasant stuff, but also the conflict and suffering parts. Except those “bad” parts never lead to death or permanent crippling, and come with things like character growth and ultimate triumph.
If I were forced to be in a cut-off simulation, I would want it to be a sitcom style life. It seems the most fun and fullfilling without being too repetative.
I do kinda wish that the Episode 4 reveal had been closer to the end of the season/series. I was having a lot of fun with trying to piece together what was happening. WandaVision is basically everything Lost promised to be, except it ACTUALLY DELIVERS. It was creepy weird shit with an answer. The writers knew what was causing it and how it would resolve from the very beginning. Suck it, JJ Abrams. This is how you make actual good art!
But now that we’ve been given all the answers, I’m kinda sad. The rest of the show seems fairly predictible. I think it’ll still be a fun ride, but unless Marvel REALLY surprises me and springs something innovative on us, we’re gonna get the tearful reconciliation with reality at the end.
Speaking of which, is yanking Wanda out of her utopia immoral?
Let’s ignore for a moment that she’s imprisoned other people within it to act as her cast members. *IF* she hadn’t done that, *AND* she had left a note to the outside world that this was her choice (so they wouldn’t get the mistaken impression they were rescuing her from some dread curse), would forcing her out of her utopia and forcing her to engage with the rest of the world be a bad act? Adults should be allowed to do what they want, including hiding from their emotions and cutting off contact with everyone else, if that’s what they choose. I can see maybe if they were driven to do it because they need her help for some existential threat, at least they have the self-preservation excuse. But otherwise?
One could make the arguement that creating her own world like this is similar to going full wirehead. A person that’s just in constant pure bliss can’t really be called a person anymore, IMHO. Going full wirehead is akin to suicide. I think people should be allowed to commit suicide if they want to, but I wouldn’t call someone evil for trying to convince them not to. Trying to reach Wanda in her utopia could be seen as the equivalent of trying to talk someone out of suicide?
But that’s assuming that her world can reasonably called equivalent to full wireheading, and I’m not sure it can. She’s still a person in there, right? With experiences and hopes and dissapointments and a variety of mental processes. Maybe her personhood will slowly get sanded down to nothing, as living unceasing centuries in a sitcom fantasy atrophies away the parts of a human that make them real people. It’s an interesting question. Probably one we could only really answer with actual experimentation.
Actually, damn, that would make a really interesting season 2. 1000 years from now, the creepy horror of WandaVision is now “how much of Wanda is left?” and we get to try to figure that out.
I’m all in for that.