I'm Short, Not Stupid Presents: 'Dr. Easy'

The eponymous Dr. Easy is a robot programmed to diffuse tense situations. It uses a vast database of human records, sensory detectors, and deductive reasoning to work it’s magic. The film incites many important questions that force us to confront our...

Jul 12 2013, 4:12pm

When you don’t have health insurance, the thought of getting injured is scary. It's difficult enough just dealing with all of your current neuroses. Plus, when you finally do crack and need to be picked up again, they force you into a healthcare system that is broken itself. I used to wish health issues like this could be simpler, until I saw Dr. Easy.

Dr. Easy is the first narrative foray by the Shynola Film Collective, who are known for their Radiohead, Queens of the Stone Age, and Cold Play music videos. In the short, the eponymous Dr. Easy is a robot programmed to diffuse tense situations and prevent causalities. The robot uses a vast database of human records, artificial sensory detectors, and deductive reasoning to work it’s magic. Some suspension of belief is required, but mostly in how quick the robot is able to access years of your medical, police, and phone records. For example, I rarely updated any of my information and I can imagine Dr. Easy crashing when I would try to explain my dogged and complicated medical history. Regardless, since this robot can also read your hormonal output, he’s got a pheromonal advantage over humans.  

Artificially intelligent robots with human senses seem like a logical place for robot technology to go and one that many, many other sci-fi stories pursue. However, what this short does so perfectly is present a dislodged moment in time where the audience is left unaware of culture surrounding the use of robots in these situations. Running like a procedural, the film allows one of Dr. Easy’s cases to unfold naturally in front of the camera. The Doctor isn’t proving anything. It is simply doing its job.  The desperation and nervousness coming from the humans is what imbues the sense of unrest and tension in the short.  Unlike human police or medical professionals, Dr. Easy does not feel empathy and unfortunately cannot replicate the human tenderness needed in certain situations regarding the psyche. On the other side of that coin, it doesn’t succumb to many of the moral failings and weaknesses of humans. The doctor has the best bedside skills, but pretty terrible bedside manners. The film ends somewhat abruptly, but not without inciting a slew of important robot/human relationship questions that force us to confront our own insecurities regarding technology.

At the end of the day, if an ambulance ride costs me $1200 in NYC, I can’t begin to imagine what an in-home robot visit would cost. Dr. Easy seems like way better company than NYC’s ambulance drivers though. See for yourself below.

The Shynola Collective is comprised of three dudes: Jason Groves, Richard Kenworthy and Christopher Harding. They’ve been making pretty stellar videos for a couple years and Dr. Easy is their first narrative short, which was adapted from the opening chapter of Matthew De Abaitua’s 2007 novel The Red Men. The crew is currently planning a feature version of Dr. Easy. The short has a pretty badass pedigree with Warp Films and Film4 as producers, visual FX from Jellyfish, and cinematography from Barry Ackroyd (The Hurt LockerUnited 93).

Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super fancy mixed-media art serial calledPRISM index.


Previously -  'The Bowler'

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