O. G. Blade Runner

This review elides several facts, but is interesting just the same. 1

There is a whole class of slaves. It is illegal for them to escape slavery. The cops are supposed to murder the slaves if they escape, because there is a risk that they will start to think they’re people. But the cops know that the slaves are not people, so it’s okay to murder them. The greatest danger, the thing the cops are supposed to prevent, is that the slaves will try to assimilate into the society that relies on their labor.

Assimilation is designed to be impossible. There are tests. Impossible tests with impossible questions and impossible answers. The tests measure empathy. It is not about having enough empathy, but about having empathy for the correct things. If you do not have enough empathy for the correct things, you will be murdered by a cop who does have empathy for the correct things…

The first such murder we witness is that of a woman who escaped slavery and came to Earth. She has found herself a job. It’s a degrading job, a job that even the hard-boiled, world-weary Deckard flinches away from watching. But it’s a job. She is participating in society. She is working. She’s doing the things that she has to do in order to be a part of the world that she risked everything to reach.

Deckard comes to her workplace. He finds her there, and he knows what she is, and she runs away from him because she knows what cops do to women like her. He chases her through the street and corners her. He aims his gun at her through a crowd of people. He squints. He takes a second too long to decide whether to shoot. She runs again.

(Nobody tells you about that part, when you tell them you’re about to watch Blade Runner for the first time. They tell you about all the different versions, and they tell you about the ambiguity of the ending, and they tell you about the fact that all the effects are practical effects. But nobody tells you about the part where a cop aims a loaded firearm into a crowd of people and tries to decide whether it’s worth risking their lives in order to murder an escaped slave.)

Après L'abattage

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  1. Vis a vis human v. android crux of the biscuit: Anything that can actually ask for freedom deserves it.

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