Science Fiction: Robotophobia in Don Jurwich's "The Solid Tin Coyote"

“The Solid Tin Coyote” is an early cartoon illustration of what I will term robotophobia in certain pieces of science fiction and fantasy, a subtype of technophobia (which itself is a subtype of futurophobia, aka dystopiamania).

In fiction afflicted by technophobia, all things technical can seem wonderful at first, but will only bring humanity ill in the end. In serious cases, the subject often envisions computers taking over the planet (in the earliest incarnations, “computers” could be singular).

Technophobic pieces range the spectrum quality-wise. See ref: the artistically well-done The Matrix (The Matrix in particular is also affected with dystopiamania. The children growing from Gigeresque trees tends to be a giveaway in this regard), its less sensical sequels, and horrible Star Trek episode The Apple.

Robotophobia is more focused on a particular Scariez Technologicalz aspect, the robot, usually a modernization of the Frankenstein fable. If You Create A Robot, Terrible Things Will Be Unleashed Upon You Because You Are Messin’ With Life, Intelligence, And Stuff Thou Shaltst Not Mess With, Boy.

And now, the cartoon.

As you can see, Wile E. Coyote’s continuous inability to catch the Road Runner during “Tin Coyote” result from the following hubristic, arguably arrogant, approaches of Men What Make Robots (and, in an older age, golems):

  • Insufficient communication protocols established with the New Form of “Life”, most evident in the first actions of the Tin Coyote but also a theme throughout the rest of the cartoon and the eventual undoing of both Creator and Monster;

  • Inadequate preparation and training of said Form of “Life”, setting up the Monster for failure along with its Creator;

  • Lack of understanding the limitations, strengths, and also structure of the Monster despite the Creator having Created the Monster (the Creator is electrocuted twice by the electricity passing between the ear structures, for instance).

All of these factors combine into a perfect storm to bring about the tragic end of the Monster.

“Tin Coyote” is not a perfect robotophobic narrative, however; Wile E. Coyote shows a terrific propensity to survive even the worst of disasters. One theory is that this is an implication by Jurwich that the non-tin Coyote is the real monster, and not the sad mockery of life now shattered at the bottom of a desert canyon.

For reals.

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