MBTI: Ex Machina
I have no choice but to know this is going to be, at the very least, on my Top 10 of the year. With how little has come out that I actually care about, Ex Machina was like an oasis in the desert. Could I see some people being bored by it? Yep. The three people I was in the theater with all were.
But they couldn’t deny it was good.
So here are the types of the few characters there were. It’s always funny to see what types are present as well as missing and how that changes the tone of the film. No Guardians, the show is probably very flexible, maybe a lot of action, no Idealists and people’s morals get flexible, all that good stuff. See what you get from this.
A loner that isn’t one by choice, Caleb spends his days at work as a programmer and his nights? Watching porn evidently.
Not all INTPs are this sad and lonely but with their preference for Ti (Introverted Thinking) and Ne (Extroverted Intuition), there are going to be the INTPs who do whatever they have to do for money only to sulk off into their messy corners.
Although he could be mistaken for a Feeler of some kind, INTPs are at their worst when their inferior Fe is being forced, which Caleb’s is because he’s having to deal with his drunkenly verbose host, far away from anything he’s familiar with (The film was shot in Norway, by the way) while he may or may not be getting manipulated by an android he’s becoming attracted to. A weird situation for anybody to be in but INTPs can have an especially tough time balancing their logic and their feelings which is normally why many reject them altogether when they come up at all. Who wants to display such pesky emotions?
Why is Ti and Ne going to sometimes make for a sad and lonely individual? Well, you should be able to detect heavier Ne in anybody, while INTPs use it to extrapolate ideas from what’s already been proven (in their minds at least) to be possible.
Actor Domhnall Gleeson, who plays Caleb, did a great job at showing the nerdy programmer excited over how lifelike Ava is, as he can now see all the possibilities with this supposed impossibility that has been made possible. The way he describes Ava to Nathan is as excited as a kid in a toy store yet he’s more impressed from a technical standpoint and Nathan has to chip away at his vocabulary to see how Caleb really feels rather than what he thinks of her as a piece of work.
Inferior Fe users are often more childlike in their displays of this function when not being forced into something very personal and/or invasive. It’s used to help give others better insight into their own view points in a way that understands the emotions of a casual interaction without getting too personal.
Awww yee. While Caleb’s personality may be known as “the warmest robot,” Ava actually is a robot. Spoilers, am I right.
Sitting down to speak with Caleb one-on-one seemed simple enough, didn’t it? She would be interviewed and observed, taken apart and rebuilt. And what do you know, Ava is aware and doesn’t want that.
While there are many types who take a highly specialized approach to not only human interaction, but humanity itself, INFJs make their life about this. They don’t even necessarily notice what they’re doing in the moment but every thought and comment with any sort of validity is put into their mental Rolodex to be referred back to at a time when it matters. With their unique combination of Ni and Fe (Introverted Intuition and Extroverted Feeling), INFJs want to get along now but not at the compromise of their long term integrity.
I was being told INFJs are master manipulators when they choose to be…lucky for humanity they just rarely choose to “go there” and since “Hitler was an INFJ” every INFJ has it in them to be a masochist. While I still don’t believe this to be true, what I can say is that when INFJs manipulate, the few who feel it are broken down by it.
The difference with an INFJ manipulating and another type is that an INFJ doing so is more about one-on-one time you could call it; their manipulation only really works with the few individuals that are close enough for them to do so, sort of like a Venus Fly Trap. If the fly simply didn’t land there, it wouldn’t be eaten. It could go anywhere else and it’s fine. But they choose to go to a plant that gains sustenance by devouring them.
This is much like Ava. The fly here is Caleb and just like in real life (Noooo! Not that place!), the victim has to care about the INFJ for the INFJ to manipulate them in the first place, given an unhealthy INFJ’s mode of deceit. Ava herself fits all of this, as she has nowhere to go but her underground chambers and Caleb could simply look at the situation for what it is- yet his judgement is clouded by his loneliness and other various emotions he has a hard time processing. Ava really just wants to survive, escape, and fit in with the rest of society (even though she could never really pull off that last part) and she’ll use Caleb to get there. If only Caleb didn’t fall for the Damsel in Distress act.
Then again, it wasn’t really an act, was it? But saving the damsel doesn’t mean she’s gonna be with you. Lookin’ at you, nice guys. This is why your fantasy in Her should never be brought to life.
At first ENTP seemed likely; outgoing, a little weird, inventive in more ways than one and he’s a bit of a jerk. But more than those things, Nathan is driven. The guy was nonstop working on his masterpiece and while ENTPs can be driven, it’s more in a moment of brilliance, or flashes of ingenuity; Nathan, on the other hand just kept doing what he was doing day in and day out, which speaks more to Ni and Te than Ne and Ti. Working out and drinking unhealthily speak more to the ENTJ’s tertiary Extroverted Sensing which seeks to be stimulated externally when their actual plans aren’t being enacted.
When Caleb asks Nathan why he wants to build an android in the first place, Nathan responds that he sees robotic life as the way of the future. “It’s not a matter of ‘why’ but ‘when.” he tells Caleb, which fits with the dominant Extroverted Thinker’s way of doing things to have them done, no matter what the task is. A thing isn’t there to be questioned and thought about, but to be dealt with and set to the side. Or thrown away altogether if it can’t be used.
It’s in this way that Nathan and Caleb clash. Aside from the obvious screw-up of Caleb allowing Ava to trick him into setting her free and how that truly and utterly screws Nathan in the process, Caleb is a thinker that doesn’t seem to ever want a clear decision. You could say he’s all about the “Why.” While Nathan is a genius that just wants to do. Getting it done is more of the goal than wondering if even should be done. Nathan looks at it to a similar way Logan Marshall Green’s character looks at the invention of David in Prometheus. Why does he think David was built at all? “Because we could.“
ENTJs are more likely to cast out questions of morality and ethics when it comes to what seems to be the best decision, logically. What could be wrong with building these things, giving them free will, and then tearing them apart to build a better model if it’s logical? You can’t go wrong with what just makes sense. It’s a weird scenario that helps make the movie what it is but Nathan wastes no time wondering about it. He’s just doing what he was meant to do- create, build, sell.
When you have these kind of movies involving scientists that gawk at their creation and ask “Oh my God. What have we done?”– They’re not an ENTJ.
I thought about not involving her at all since she literally has no lines in the film. But the studious obedient Japanese servant woman? The typing is obvious, if not a stereotype. But just because she was made to serve Nathan doesn’t mean she wants to do that for her entire existence. And once Caleb is manipulated and Ava is free, she does exactly what she needs to so as to be free of her oppressor and stabs Nathan.
One thing that seems to be misunderstood about ISFJs is that they’re subservient to whatever boss, manager, or significant other they have. This can be true, as I more-or-less mocked in the brutally honest profiles but that was more of an ISFJ at their worst and not many get that bad. In reality, ISFJs can get used to just about any conditions but of course, after some serious conditioning.
You would think that an android made to do exactly what she was doing (Serving Nathan) would make her life complete. But if the android you’ve created has free will and you’re only using it as your personal slave, consequences of that are unavoidable.
From that you really could say Nathan’s creations were a complete success. Too bad he had to find out in the worst way.