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

Show 1 footnote

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

Why I Don’t Trust Batman

Imagine that you live in a city of villains.

Your city has a billionaire playboy. He lives on top of the hill. You don’t know much about him, other than what you read in the papers about his romantic exploits and elaborate black-tie parties. You had a gig once offloading decorative antique suits of armor at his mansion up on the hill. You wanted to sign up for the gig offloading slabs of marble to be installed in his ballroom, but you hurt your back and got fired.

You met the billionaire playboy once. You grew up in one of his orphanages, after your Pop was killed by a villain and your Ma ran off to make her fortune robbing banks in a souped-up mech suit. The orphanage was nice, nicer than home even, because nobody there was squirreling away your lunch money to pay for mech suit parts. You met the billionaire playboy when he came through the orphanage to inspect the place. There was a woman with a clipboard trailing behind him, and she smiled at you. The billionaire ran his hands across the rows of bedposts and looked into the distance, and you couldn’t catch his eye.

After you hurt your back, your buddy tells you about a job he’s got working in-house security at some guy’s warehouse downtown. You live downtown. It would be nice to work close to where you live—you wouldn’t have to sit on the half-the-time-broke-down trolley that goes from just outside the slums to the canning district, which is your other employment option.

The billionaire playboy owns a lot of real estate in the city. That, you learn through your buddy as you walk together to the security job, is how the billionaire playboy’s family amassed their fortune. They owned all the land before the city became a bustling urban metropolis.

You’re not sure whether he owns the slum where you live. You wonder if your rent money pays for decorative antique suits of armor.

Why I Don’t Trust Batman

Back near The Beginning 1 we inked our own dismissive review regarding The Dark Night, in general, and “super hero” movies in particular. Yet, after nearly a decade the above deconstruction is still considered relevant.

To some this validates their opinion that an ending to Miracleman is frustratingly long overdue; Moore’s run of Miracleman posited that should a super-powered alien acting as a force for good exist (e.g., Superman) then they would overhaul capitalism to institute something better. That is to say, while flying around in their underwear and engaging in homoerotic WWF displays of fisticuffs with other villainous masked creeps is not necessarily a bad thing 2, Moore claimed it was simply irrelevant, much more clearly in instances like Superman/Batman than in Watchmen.

If you want to stop crime, stop it at it’s root: Poverty, inequality, mental health issues, et alia.

What happened instead was when Moore turned Miracleman over to Gaiman his Miracleman exploded out of the gate, hell-bent on showing us — in minute detail — that a Moore-inspired utopia would not, after all, be everything we might hope: What happens to the intelligence agencies, what would a counter-culture look like? And, of course, some people will never be happy, regardless of environment…

But that was it – the rest of the imagined opus, the portion intended to show how individual cracks in utopia form and, eventually, cause paradise to fall, never came about. 3

And since the bar was not raised with Miracleman, we are left with unevolved superheroes (Superman), boy-men seemingly mired in existential dread of their own strengths, or, conversely, superheroes (Batman) resolved they are correct –the rest of the world be damned– and they intend to bring it, motherfucker.

Why I Don’t Trust BatmanI don’t desire a nostalgic return to an era that was only marginally better than fascism (toward which we seem to be quickly scampering in any event, as though we had good sense), nor do I want a new car that does only what cars have done for the last 100 years, roll from Point A to Point B.

All of which is by way of saying the upcoming crop of Marvel movies will not move me any more than next year’s auto show; long on promise, short on delivery, every one of them. Even the FX at this point will be old hat.

Give me an evolved Miracleman. Or Gully Foyle. Give me a $35K car I can fly.

You can’t do that? Shut the fuck up then and get off my lawn.

Why I Don’t Trust Batman

Show 3 footnotes

  1. Mid-2008, if memory serves.
  2. A boy does need to let off some steam now and then, n’est-ce pas?
  3. This is all serious inside baseball, going back decades, but, basically?  Lawyers, guns and money.