Term Paper, Hinton
This is nowhere near finished, I just want to see if I am on the right track. I apologize for the paragraph structure on the blog. Can't translate from Word correctly:
Who is in the Loop?
Society Structures in Blade Runner
In the 1980’s, Americans struggled with where they are placed in this particular society. In Blade Runner, it seems like every single character is in search of a place, or maybe an understanding of that place, in this dystopian society. However, there are other characters willing to completely break away from society that does not accept them for what they are and what they do. The reasons for the Replicants being low on the rank of society is they do not have simple attributes that humans (regardless if they use it well or not) have. Blade Runner also shows how other characters in structure breaks away from it unwillingly due to the events that conspire.
Why break away from this structure, though? Is it because of humanity’s fear of being inadequate to the Replicants or each other? The postmodernist view on Blade Runner shows a rigid society structure that is actually void, because it’s a very old structure that is irrelevant to its members’ personalities. However, there is an unspoken emotional system that is being followed by all characters regardless of status.
In the movie, there is an obvious social structure that is played out: Elites and Cop shown as humans on top, lower class humans are lower class human, and the Replicants are shown as sub-human on bottom. The purpose of the Replicants was to perform menial tasks for the humans, these tasks varies from sexual to military functions. Unlike the Replicants, all of the humans have free will to do whatever they want, this is one of the things that causes the failure of the structure.
There is also a structure that is not so obvious that is the most important in this movie. Characters in this particular structure are arranged by the personalities and the emotion of a human. A character will most likely be on top of this emotional structure if he or she is “humane”. Even though the Replicants are treated nothing more than tools, they have emotional and intellectual responses that can match, even exceed humans. This is one of the reasons why the Replicants, like any humans in society, actively sought out their desire, to live.
Dominic Alessio, author of "Redemption, 'Race', Religion, Reality and the Far Right Science Fiction Film Adaptation of Philip K. Dick.", stated that the actions of the Replicants actually reflects on there creators (Alessio). Just like the humans, they despised the fact that they are outcast to the rest of society. Nevertheless, the Replicants blend into society as if they were ordinary people. In Race, Space and Class: The Politics of the SF Film from Metropolis to Blade Runner, David Desser described how they are “clearly associated with the lower class, their presence nearly undetectable” to the rest of the humans (Desser 112). Every other character in Blade Runner accepts his or her position in the hierarchal society except for the Replicants.
Blade Runner seems to take a turn when the Replicants decided to separate from this caste system to get a longer life. They perform acts that any affluent member of this particular society would denounce. One of their first rebellious acts as members of this society was escaping an off world colony to return to Earth, the following act being murder. In “Blade Runner and the Postmodern: A Reconsideration”, Varun Begley had explain how “Roy, who knowing that his four-year life-span is at an end, kills Tyrell by gouging out his eyes, spares Deckard’s life in a final act of mercy (Begley).”
Roy’s act of rebellions had an effect on his thoughts towards humanity and vice versa. The whole reason why the Replicants are separate from society is because they were created by man and not born. Eric G. Wilson stated in his article, “Moviegoing and Golem-Making: The Case of Blade Runner” that:
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner self-consciously explores this affinity between the matter of the android and the subject of the cinema. Scott’s meditation on the conjunction between miracle and monstrosity reflects on the double binds that issue from the attempt to embody freedom in a determined pattern. This golem movie is an artistic depiction of a man’s struggle to reconcile crass mechanical limitations with noble human affections (Wilson 31).
Roy was “an android that strived for humanity” (Wilson 31), however, he along with his fellow Replicants decided that the rewards of this structure are not exactly fair.
A major reason why the Replicants are outcast of this social structure is because of their lack of a history a past, something that is given to a person that is born. To have a past is something that the Replicants could never claim to become part of this society. Guilana Bruno wrote in her article, “Ramble City: Postmodernism and Blade Runner”, about the Replicants place in time:
Replicants are condemned to a life composed only in the present tense; they have neither past nor memory. There is for them no conceivable future. They are denied a personal identity, since they cannot name their “I” as an existence over time. Yet this life, lived only in the present, is for the replicants an extremely intense experience, since it is not perceived as part of a larger set of experiences (Bruno 244).
However, what do we say about Rachel, a Replicant who has implanted memories? She is not only difficult to determine if she is a human or not, she catches the heart of a Blade Runner and becomes an affluent member of this society by working as a secretary of the Tyrell Corporation. Does Rachel have the ability to eventually become a human, at least in spirit? Catherine Constable agrees with Bruno’s argument that what makes Rachel difficult to determine a Replicant because she is not imitating her false memories but simulating them. She stated that her very existence undermind the “opposition between true and false (Constable).”
Rachel has the ability to blend into this society of humans by acting human. In the movie, she falls in love with Deckard, a Blade Runner, as if she was a normal human woman. Deckard is controlled by the aspects of lust and he follows this impulse like a machine follows a program. This not only questions the aspects of where Rachel place in the structure, it questions Deckard’s place and even the structure itself. Wilson describes Rachel as a “machine that shows courage and initiative (Wilson 34).” Rachel, without even knowing it, is becoming embedded into the society designed to place and denounce Replicants.
Wilson goes into even more detail with the relationship of Rachel and Deckard and how it affects their humanity and therefore their place in this society:
Back in Deckard’s apartment, Deckard and Rachael achieve mutual sympathy. Both are shaken by their recent killings and need affectionate contact. However, Deckard’s desire comes in the form of lust, while Rachael’s takes the form of love (Wilson 34).
Even though the Replicants have fought for a noble cause, they are still, in essence, far from good. The fact that they were willing to take revenge over the people that denied them a future, like Tyrell, made them into the monsters that everyone thought they were. Bruno goes deeper into stating that Roy, by killing Tyrell, “seals his (lack of) destiny, denying himself resolution and salvation (Bruno 245).”
If the humane acts of the Replicants often questions their position in the structure, then what of the other characters in Blade Runner. Most of the other characters in the movie are not as humane in their actions, yet they are on top of the structure. The actions of Deckard, of course, question the very nature of what a human should be. This is due to his job of being a Blade Runner; in which society uses him like a tool just like a Replicant. His life, like a machine’s, is extremely predictable:
His zombielike character displays little emotion through most of the film. His life is a predictable grind: he hunts Replicants; he drinks whiskey to dull his guilt over killing humanoids; he hunts Replicants again; he drinks more (Wilson 34).
That puts in a whole new perspective on what is the difference between a human and a tool. Deckard’s primary function in this structure is to eliminate Replicants to keep the status quo of the structure. Like the Replicants, Deckard has no say in his place is in the structure. He was basically forced out of retirement by Bryant to kill the rogue humanoids, including Rachael.
It seems like the higher the position in the structure, the more inhumane the characters and their actions become. At the very top of the structure is Dr. Tyrell, head of the Tyrell Corporation and creator of the Replicants. This character shows all of the bad qualities as a human being; greedy and arrogant beyond all belief. In the movie, it seems that Tyrell had teased Roy after having refused to increased his life span , Tyrell had said “you were made as well as we could make you (Scott).”
However not all scholars believe that Tyrell was all that powerful in this encounter. In “The Nocturnal Future as Alienated Existence: Blade Runner”, Metin Bosnak makes a claim that the all-powerful Tyrell who is considered the “big boss” and the “big genius”, becomes “helpless in the face of death” as Roy confronts Tyrell (Bosnak 82). The conversation that shows Tyrell basically groveling to Roy due to fear shows how a person that is considered a god, now being broken down into something below the Replicants:
Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very brightly, Roy. Look at you. You are the prodigal son. You are quite a prize!
Roy: I have done questionable things.
Tyrell: Also extraordinary things. Revel in your time.
Roy: Nothing, the god of biomechanics would not let you in heaven for (Scott).
One of Tyrell’s reasons for his shortcomings is that he is too prideful of his position and his ability. With his creation of Rachael and her implanted memories, he thought that there was no way that he could out do himself. Tyrell uses simple human attributes that humans have to “control them better (Scott).” Wilson had made the connection between the creation of the Replicants and Tyrell’s greedy desires:
Crafting these Replicants, Tyrell is not only attempting to fulfill his greedy desires; he is also trying to rectify the errors of fallen matter—ugliness and stupidity, decay and fear. To this end, he develops the Nexus 6 model, a robot indistinguishable from human beings. Though Tyrell develops android to serve as a slave to human desires… (Wilson 33)
He is not only ruler over the Replicants; he is superior over the rest of the humans. Tyrell even separates himself from the rest of the humans to show that he is superior. The building that he lives in is an example of his decadence and wealth. Alessio shows how the decadence had contributed to the city’s structure. While most of the population lives in the slums close to the ground floor, Tyrell lives high among the sky in a building that looks like a ziggurat or a pyramid. A real purpose of a ziggurat is that it is a home for “the gods and their priest in Mayan and Sumerian culture, and thus a fitting symbol for a creator of replicants (Alessio 67)”.
Another character that is on the top of the structure is Bryant, a police captain that Deckard works for. He’s job is to oversee the Blade Runners and isn’t exactly fans of the Replicants. Bryant calls the Replicants a degrading term called “skin jobs”, which is “akin to calling them niggers (Alessio 68).” Begley compared Bryant to a throwback version to a pre-Civil Rights “Southern white sheriff (Begley)” The emotional persona of Bryant really shows the structure as it really is, a useful tool of oppression and hatred. Indeed, we find that he, like the Blade Runners, is just fulfilling his place in the structure, the task that was given to him. A scene in the movie that put his place in the structure in perspective; when Deckard refused to help Bryant in killing the Replicants, Bryant responded “If you’re not a cop, you’re little people (Scott).”
Who is the “little people” that Bryant is referring to? Is it everyone on the street floor, away from Tyrell and the rest of the elites? Most of them are either in off-world colonies or high from the ground floor. In this dystopian structure, the little people could be referring to the melting pot of peoples that “has a noticeable majority of Oriental, Latino and Mediterranean” throughout the city’s slums (Desser 111).
In these slums are some of the other characters that fit the mold of this social structure perfectly. J.F. Sebastian is a character that has most of the human qualities that most of the other humans in Blade Runner are lacking. Sebastian is the only non-Replicant that has a lot in common with the Replicants. Like them, he is “doomed to a four-year life span” due to the Methuselah Syndrome (Pierce 206). In John J. Pierce’s “Creative Synergy and the Art of World Creation”, Sebastian has warmth to him that he and the Replicants share. He stated that “Sebastian, on the other hand, is fairly marvelous in his eccentricity. William Sanderson plays him with a disarming charm, a charm that is reflected in his surroundings (Pierce 206)”.
He is on the bottom of the ladder in this social structure and is discriminated against by the elites. Nevertheless as an engineer, Sebastian has access to the Tyrell Corporation, and thus access to Tyrell and the elites. The chess game that they have with each other is the only thing that connects the demagogue Tyrell and the humble Sebastian.