Blade Runner 2049 and its Fatal Flaw

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I was excited to see Blade Runner 2049. I went to see it with my girlfriend, her mother, and a lifelong female friend of mine. I purchased the tickets for all of us. Many of my friends had said it was one of the best movies they had ever seen. Chris Stuckman on YouTube gave it an A+. Word was that Harrison Ford said it was the best script he had ever read.

So I sat down in the reclining seats of the theater ready to be dazzled. And it was dazzling. There are special effects throughout this movie, but they’re so flawless that I did not spend any time thinking about the CGI. The production design is incredible. Like the original, it looks like a lived in world full of casual amazing technology. Roger Deakins is the director of photography. He’s the best in the business and the way he makes this film look deserves an Oscar. Performances by nearly all of the cast feel grounded in reality and make for an engaging movie. There’s a plot element involving implanted memories that I think is genius. You can find plenty of reviews that will correctly go on and on about how great so many aspects of Blade Runner 2049 are. There is so much to love in Blade Runner 2049.

Sadly, Blade Runner 2049 also has a fatal flaw. The 1982 original Blade Runner had its own flaws. Any movie where your protagonist rapes someone is problematic, but part of the whole point of the original Blade Runner seemed to me to be an experiment in what you can allow the protagonist to do if you just say the people he’s doing it to aren’t ‘real’. It’s one of the things that makes Blade Runner so damn dark. And the culture of the world of 2019 in Blade Runner is fairly misogynistic. (There are literally no female characters in the original Blade Runner who aren’t fake people.) For whatever reason, the creators of Blade Runner 2049 decided that in the 30 years following the first movie that misogynistic side of their culture has been turned up to eleven.

Instead of scenes with women as prostitutes or strippers, BR 2049 chooses to have 200 foot statues of naked women in various sexual poses, it chooses to have giant nude hologram women enticing men. They have a protagonist who has a holographic girlfriend who merges with a prostitute replicant he finds attractive so that he can have sex with both of them at the same time. They have a scene where our antagonist views his latest creation, an adult nude woman who clearly appears afraid. He touches her belly and then he guts her. Some may say these scenes develop character or show off a world that is misogynistic, but sitting next to three women I care about watching these scenes I felt awkward and disturbed.

I am not someone who shies away from graphic scenes in movies. I recognize that some stories require graphic violence, rampant nudity, or even sexism and misogyny, but when these things are presented with no real negative judgment about them, when they are presented simply as a matter of course, when they are presented in such a way that none of the male characters die and most of the female characters die in graphic ways, it becomes something else. There is a responsible way to present unpleasant misogyny in a dysotopian future (see Mad Max Fury Road). Blade Runner 2049 fails to be responsible in this way.

It is really unfortunate that such an incredibly well done movie chose to be among the most chauvinistic movies of the 21st century. For some this won’t be a problem. There are those who are much more comfortable with misogyny than I am personally. Maybe I would have had a different experience if I had not gone with three women I saw cringing and bothered throughout the movie. What I know is that in the year 2017, there is little excuse for a movie that goes so far out of its way to degrade a gender.

– Jack Cameron

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QUINTANA SCRIPT EXCERPT*

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It was recently announced that Jon Turturro will be reprising his role from The Big Lebowski as Jesus Quintana. Below is a script excerpt from QUINTANA.*

TITLE CARD: 1990

INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM

WALTER SOBCHAK sits on the couch. JESUS QUINTANA walks into the room he’s carrying one bottle of beer. He uses a bottle opener on the wall to OPEN the beer. He then DRINKS THE ENTIRE BOTTLE. He looks at WALTER.

JESUS
So. You want to roll with the Jesus?

WALTER
You and I are the only ones who give a fuck about the game, man.

JESUS
We need a third. Who you got, man?

WALTER
How about the Dude?

JESUS
The Dude does not roll like you and he does not roll like the Jesus. What about the little guy?

WALTER
Forget it. Donny’s a surfer. He’s out of his element on the land.

JESUS
Tell you what. Jesus is gonna think on it. You come back Saturday. We talk it out.

WALTER
I can’t. Not Saturday.

JESUS
You come see the Jesus on Sunday then.

WALTER
Sounds good. With you on the team, how can we lose?

JESUS
You know it, baby! Jesus never lose.

WALTER
You’re not going to miss any games being all the way across town are you?

JESUS
Shut the fuck up. You can count on Jesus. Jesus is planning to move to Venice soon.

WALTER gets up and heads for the door.

TITLE CARD: THE FOLLOWING SUNDAY

EXT. LA STREET DAY – WALTER SOBCHACK is walking down the sidewalk and encounters a LEMONADE STAND. There is an 8-YEAR-OLD boy behind the stand.

8 YEAR OLD
Hey. Hey, Mister. You want to buy some lemonade?

WALTER
What?

8 YEAR OLD
Do you want some lemonade?

WALTER
Sure. I’ll have some lemonade

WALTER takes a paper cup of lemonade and drinks it.

WALTER
That’s pretty fuckin’ good lemonade.

8 YEAR OLD
Five dollars.

WALTER
For lemonade?

8 YEAR OLD
Five dollars.

WALTER
Are you hustling me?

8 YEAR OLD
You said it was fuckin good.

WALTER
I can’t believe it. I’m being hustled by a fucking kid.

WALTER pulls out his wallet. He opens it. He has RECEIPTS and TWO ONE DOLLAR BILLS.

WALTER
I can give you two dollars.

8 YEAR OLD
You owe me five.

WALTER
You know what? Fuck it. Fine. My friend lives just down the street. Come with me. I’m sure he can front me five bucks for your little hustle.

8 YEAR OLD
Who’s going to watch my stand?

WALTER
Do you want the money or not?

EXT. – OUTSIDE JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY

WALTER & 8 YEAR OLD walk up to the front porch of JESUS QUINTANA’S house. Walter KNOCKS on the door. He waits. KNOCKS AGAIN. No answer.

8 YEAR OLD
Nobody’s here. Where’s my money?

WALTER
He’s here. He told me to meet him here.

WALTER tries the door. It’s unlocked. He steps inside. The 8 YEAR OLD steps in with him.

INT. JESUS QUINTANA’S HOUSE – DAY – MOMENTS LATER

8 YEAR OLD
Did we just break in here?

WALTER
Shut the fuck up, kid. Jesus lives here.

8 YEAR OLD
What are you talking about? This ain’t no church.

The two of them walk through the house, down a hallway. They hear the sound of a SHOWER just as it turns off.

The bathroom door opens. JESUS QUINTANA walks out soaking wet and completely NUDE.

The 8 YEAR OLD SCREAMS and runs out of the house.

JESUS
What the fuck, man? Get the fuck out of here!

WALTER
We were going to talk about our bowling team! Remember!

JESUS
Deos Mio, man. You break into my house with some fucking kid and want to be on my team. Fuck you, pendejo. Get. The. Fuck. Out. Jesus will never roll with you!

WALTER turns around and starts walking towards the open front door.

WALTER (muttering)
Stands around naked in front of a kid. Calls me names. Guy’s a pervert.

*Note: This is NOT really a script excerpt. It’s something I made up.