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No Sacred Cows: Blade Runner

Hello and Welcome to the first edition of No Sacred Cows, where we take movies we love and brutalize them for the fun of it.  Sure, we could mock and deride movies we hate, but then we’d actually have to watch them again–which probably means actually paying money to rent or buy them–and means corrupting our eyes and brains and, no, the idea’s just too horrible.  So instead, we’ll look back at some of the greatest movies of all time and tell you, the viewing public, why there is no such thing as perfection… because we’re evil.  Bwahahaa!

Blade Runner is Really Good Nonsense. Don’t get me wrong, Blade Runner is an incredible movie. It’s one of my favorites, one of the greatest sci-fi films of all time, a key part of the cyberpunk genre, and a cinematic masterpiece… which is why it’s being featured on No Sacred Cows.  The detail work alone is superb and the acting is top notch.  And you can watch it five times in a row if you have the Final Cut complete DVD or Blu-Ray set.  It’s also complete nonsense.  Good nonsense, but utter fantasy; a story whose elements exist for the sake of the story, not for any sense of realism.

 

 

Now, I’m not talking about the “flying cars” or the incredible zoom-in technology that allows Deckard to read a newspaper in a photograph from across the room, then zoom in even more into a mirror in the next room and get any details from what must be 50 feet or more… in a Polaroid.  Those are movie conventions.  No, the real nonsense is in the story itself.

 

1) Why the hell would anyone make fake humans that are indistinguishable from real ones?  (And here I’m being generous when I claim that Rutger Hauer is indistinguishable from a real human.) And if you can make fake humans, what kind of idiotic system allows them to be used as slaves?  If you want combat units, make combat lifeforms.  If you want labor units, make labor lifeforms.  Don’t make them things people can look at and see themselves in.  The only ones that make any sense at all are the sex units and the infiltration units.  But then, you’ve got an expensive item, why the hell would you make it breakdown after 4 years?  20 years, sure, but 4 is blithering.

 

2) Okay, let’s assume we’ve thrown logic out the window and built fake humans that look just like real ones–why the hell would you not make a simple genetic test or blood test that would let you know it’s a fake.  First of all, you wouldn’t want them to be genetically compatible with real humans and you wouldn’t want them breeding at all, because then people wouldn’t buy new ones.  And what about Branding?  We put logos on everything!  Why wouldn’t we just put some gene-tags in the useless part of the Replicant’s gene code that spell out “Made by Tyrell Corp, all rights reserved, copyright 2152, model number C3P-0”  or at least give the things a Tyrell brand logo?  It doesn’t have to be in the middle of the Replicant’s forehead, but how about at the base of the spine, like a trampstamp?  But noooo, it makes much more sense to give police officers with “shoot to kill” orders perform time consuming and potentially fallible psy-testing.  Good thinking there, Mr. T!

 

3) Here’s a real stumper for you.  “If you can program a Replicant with memories so real that even they don’t know they’re Replicants, why don’t you just program them to be content with their lives?”  See, that’s what everyone forgets: unhappy emotions come from being unhappy.  If you make a robot to be a slave, make it happy when you order it around and even happier when you tell it you’re replacing it with a newer model.  “Oh, thank you master!  I’ve always wanted to be replaced!  It’s all I’ve ever dreamed about!”  Perspective.  Wonderful thing.

 

4) Okay, enough about Replicants and how stupid the whole system is.  How about the complete lunacy of the trio of Chew, Sebastian, and Tyrell.  Chew makes the eyes for the Replicants, but he’s clearly not doing so well financially, considering his shop is in a slum.  Sebastian, who’s apparently one of Tyrell’s top people, considering he’s friends with the big boss, lives in a building so run down it’s actively falling apart.  Meanwhile, the Tyrell Corporation owns two gigantic arcology style buildings… why the hell don’t senior Tyrell genetic engineers warrant better digs?  Why the hell don’t they have bodyguards to protect them from people who might want to deprive Tyrell Corp of key figures?

 

5) And last, but not least, how can anyone doubt Rachel is a Replicant?  She’s more prim and proper than a Catholic Girls School Teacher.  She has no, none, zero human reactions.  She handles mind numbingly boring and extremely intrusive testing with absolute calm.  She handles finding out she’s a Replicant with about as much emotion as I show when refueling my car.   Where are the stages of grief?  Where is the outrage?  I’m not faulting actress Sean Young or director Ridley Scott, but she’s more robotic than Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man.

 

 

 

 

 

 

6) okay, I lied about Rachel being the last issue.  Gaff (played by the fabulous Edward James Olmos) is easily the creepiest person in the entire film.  What the hell is up with him?  Why does no one ever ask if he’s a Replicant?  And speaking of humans who might be a Replicant… Sure, I think Dekard is one, but I can’t for the life of me figure out why he would be.  What’s the point? Are all Blade Runners secretly Replicants?  If not, why this one?  If so, why? There are theories that Gaff’s memories were used to program Deckard once Gaff got injured… but again, why?

 

Oh never mind.  I have to re-watch the Final Cut now and see how important the differences from the Director’s Cut and the Original Theatrical Cut really are.

 

About the author

Jesse Grant

PJ likes to claim he's a mad genius. We'll agree to the "mad" part. He is a novelist, game designer, and a decent cook. He's a fan of RPGs (traditional and video) as well as board, card, video, and mind games. Trained from an early age, he has mastered the GMing Arts, having attained at least the rank of "Half Gygax". Also, he can be bribed with teriyaki jerky or Lion bars.

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