In 1987, Guns N' Roses learned that the world was unprepared for the concept of robot rape, with the band's choice of a painting by Robert Williams—depicting a disheveled, half-exposed woman and her robot rapist, who is moments away from meeting metal justice—being deemed too controversial for society, and tucked away on the inside cover. But that was 25 years ago. Now that we live in The Future, where robots vacuum our floors and take care of the elderly people we don't love anymore, surely the ever-present threat of robotic sexual assault is something to be gravely accepted, then possibly used as a poster for a Las Vegas rock show.
And yet, as Axl Rose recently found out when he revived the Williams painting for his upcoming "Appetite for Democracy" residency—with some slight alterations to remove the victim's exposed underwear and cover up her breast—many still find the idea of robots doing our raping too fantastical, as well as, in the case of the owner of a local women's shelter, deeply offensive for its implicit "celebration" of sexual assault. (That the robot perpetrator of the assault is seconds away from being vaporized for his crime is, as it was in the '80s, apparently beside the point.) Following the outcry, the Hard Rock Hotel where Rose is performing has apologized and promised to modify the posters, potentially pushing the painting back another 25 years to another far-off future. Perhaps there it may at last be viewed as the ominous warning to robot rapists it has always been, and used for whatever robot version of Axl Rose is performing in Branson, Missouri.