The Real Westworld Was Built In Japan (And It's Scary AF)
By now, you probably know HBO's Westworld as the show that forced you to have an awkward talk with your significant other about whether you'd ever get it on with a sexy robot. Before it was understudying for Game Of Thrones' role as TV's creepy uncle, Westworld was an old, not-so-great movie directed by the acclaimed author of Jurassic Park / guy who crapped out Congo, Michael Crichton.
Crichton successfully anticipated that humanity's relationship with technology would only become more intimate and ethically complex in the future -- but was way off with his prediction that big, floppy '70s porn staches would stay in style.
"Sorry, but my programming is having difficulty processing the term 'mustache ride.'"
The new TV show similarly tells the story of Westworld, a wild-west-themed park of the future where animatronic characters are bedded, murdered, and generally defiled by the type of tourists who we can only assume were thrown out of Disney's Hall of Presidents for lewd behavior.
Swapping the "Happiest place on Earth" for the "Happiest ending."
You probably wish some Anthony-Hopkins-like eccentric would hurry up and build a real Westworld for the adventure seekers and filthy perverts of today to enjoy. Well, guess what? There already was a Westworld ... but it's abandoned and falling to pieces in Japan.
Oh, and so, SO fucking haunted.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the Japanese town of Tochigi has been home to Western Village, a theme park celebrating the American wild west in all of its gun-toting, manure-reeking glory. Guests of Western Village got to step back in time -- which, according to its TV commercial, mainly involved shooting people and waving from train platforms.
Not unlike Westworld (which came out shortly before this park opened), Western Village was a recreation of a Western town populated by animatronic citizens vaguely resembling famous Western movie stars ...'s sex doll doppelgangers.
Looks like the good and the bad went on vacation and left us with this.
Sadly, because no one seems to give a shit about the Western genre in the 21st Century, Western Village closed in 2007. On the bright side, nobody bothered to actually demolish it, meaning that if you can get your ass to Japan, the deserted streets of this defunct theme park are yours to roam -- if you're cool with violating trespassing laws and are for some reason longing to be the lonely Sheriff of Garbagetown.
Sure, any abandoned, overgrown amusement park is inherently unsettling, but creepier still, the animatronic townspeople are all still lurking about, waiting to infect your nightmares. If Western Village closed because the robots had become sentient, these remaining characters were probably too damn lazy to go on any murder sprees.
Good luck trying not to envision that every time you close your eyes from now on.
Maybe it's less creepy at night?
Most bizarrely, a figure modeled after screen legend John Wayne can still be seen in the park, but with all of his robotic innards embarrassingly exposed to the world. Yes, puncturing our image of the macho badass, some hooligan left him with a bulbous pink pouch peeking out of his fly -- but damned if he doesn't still look dignified as hell with Old Glory behind him and his dangling robo-scrotum.
Thankfully, the designers didn't feel the need to include his "lil' pilgrim."
Oddly, there seems to be yet another John Wayne dummy, this one dressed as a respectable lady. Perhaps this park, like its fictional counterpart, really did cater to weird fetishes. After weathering the elements, though, classy Lady Duke's tattered clothes have jarringly revealed his metal endoskeleton -- making him look less like a cinematic icon, and more like if your Nana was a goddamn Terminator.
"Come with me if you want
to live lint-covered hard candy."
Of course, the town wouldn't be complete without a shooting range ...
... though if movies have taught us anything, they'll eventually learn to shoot back.
Not content to simply rest on its old-timey charm and plethora of dead-eyed mannequins to lure visitors, the park kept growing. In the '90s, Western Village made a significant expansion, erecting a replica of Mt. Rushmore built to one-third scale -- which is still pretty damn big. Now, though, it simply sits there, decomposing like the bodies of the men it depicts.
Assuming this isn't the plain-sight hiding spot of Japan's unstoppable Teddy Roosevelt mech.
And the inside of this Mt. Rushmore is filled with giant, garishly dressed Teddy Bears, just like the real one ... we assume.
No one is having sex-cations with these ... we think ...
The park also featured an area called Mexicoland, which you could shoot lasers at from the American side of the fake Rio Grande. Plus, there was either a haunted house or a run-of-the-mill dental school. It's kind of hard to tell from the display.
The Tooth Fairy played sort of a different role in the Old West.
Since haunted houses aren't really a Western staple, the spooky insides are just a mish-mash of grotesquely violent cowboy-themed tableaux. But hey, it's probably the closest any of us will get to seeing whatever it is Clint Eastwood hallucinates while he's yelling at empty pieces of furniture.
So if someone out there really is planning on building a kickass, albeit morally bankrupt, robot-filled theme park of the future, here's an idea: Pick a different theme.
Come on, seriously? Westerns? So far, we haven't seen a lot of the outside world on the TV show, so to be fair, maybe there are far better parks out there. Maybe the people shelling out $40,000 a day for Westworld are only doing so because Star Wars World was all booked up, or Erotic Drunken Fireworks and Candy World was too goddamn expensive.
Or maybe Westworld takes place in an alternate universe where Westerns are as popular as crystal meth. Where John Wayne is a king, not decomposing in drag. The alternate universe theory would also help explain why this future has the technological advancement to create androids indistinguishable from human beings, but apparently missed out on the science behind Lasik, because that one guy is wearing reading glasses in every scene.
It's also possible that "accessories to look quizzically over" technology has already peaked.
If you can't master the science of improving eyesight with lasers, but are cocky enough to try your hand at a theme park full of armed androids, maybe you deserve whatever violent robo-uprising comes your way.
You know all those facts you've learned about psychology from movies and that one guy at the party who says, "Actually ..." a lot? Please forget them. Chances are none of them are true. Take the Stanford Prison Experiment, the one famous psychology study people can name. It was complete bullshit. Funny story actually, it turns out that when you post flyers that say, "Hey, do you wanna be a prison guard for the weekend? Free food and nightsticks," you might not get the most stable group of young men. So join Jack O'Brien, Cracked staff members Dan O'Brien and Michael Swaim, and Psychology Professor Martie G. Haselton of UCLA as they debunk Rorschach tests, the Mozart effec,t and middle child syndrome, so soon you can be that person at the party who says, "Actually ..." Get your tickets here!
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