Blade Runner then and now: still sexist

Photo credit: Jonathas Scott via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

This summer, I watched Blade Runner for the first time. Now I have seen Blade Runner 2049.

First of all, if you're a huge Blade Runner fan, you can just write me off now: I didn't think the first movie was very good. Before your hackles get completely raised, YES the visuals were beautiful. I understand that they were some kind of advancement for the time. The look and feel of the world was quite something to behold.

It was also a little heavy-handed if you ask me. They really sacrificed storytelling in favour of sweeping imagery.

The movie also includes a straight-up rape that's passed off as seduction and that REALLY sucks. (He tries to kiss her, she resists and tries to leave, he stops her, pushes her against a wall so she can't move and makes her ask for a kiss and tells her to kiss him back like she means it before having sex with her. DING DING DING! That's a rape. Oh, but then she convinces herself that it was actually love and stays with him, as rape victims sometimes do to avoid facing the horrible thing that just happened to them, and so it's okay? NOPE.)

Blade Runner 2049 has some improvements.

The story is much much better. It actually makes sense! The acting is good! It deepens the question of what it means to be human in interesting ways.

The visual world is just as stunningly crafted, and since it uses modern special effects, is quite slick. They also manage the impossible task of having beautiful visuals while still moving the narrative forward. Progress!

The female characters even get to do some interesting things besides get raped. They have some element of agency. (Not too much though, don't worry!)

The background imagery of the world, though, is so objectifying of women it's just tiring. Most sweeping shots of the city include holographic ads for Coca-Cola and for some kind of sex service with a fully naked woman. Travel to another city and find giant statues of naked women. It's nipples, nipples everywhere! And why?

One could argue, perhaps, that the objectification is just a part of the dystopian nature of this future. Except that this "dystopian" future is basically our present, but without our prudishness towards nipples. This leads me to believe that the nearly all-male creator team simply wanted to throw some more boobs into the mix.

Also, I am a bit disappointed in my guy Ryan for perpetuating the narrative that the original movie's rape was part of a meant-to-be love story. I know you didn't write it, Ry Ry, but I still expected better of you.



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