In defence of Bladerunner 2049's sexism

We seem to be in Philip K. Dick heaven at the moment, with the Electric Dreams short-story derived series currently on Channel 4, a third season of the excellent The Man in the High Castle on the way on Amazon and, of course, Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to what's generally considered one of the most impressive SF movies ever, (incredibly loosely) based on Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

I went to see Blade Runner 2049 at the weekend, in all the glory of IMAX - and, as everyone says, it is visually stunning. But, sad to say, there's also no doubt that it is sexist - women are almost always portrayed in relation to men, and though there are some interesting female characters, it's notable that we only see, for example, advertising for female virtual companions.

Despite this, it's a film that has interesting things to say about AIs and androids. And most of all, I think there is one significant defence of the sexism.

The original movie was released in 1982 - 35 years ago. It was set in 2019, the year after next. Now, quite clearly, 2019 will not be like the world of Blade Runner. So what to do when making a sequel to it? Clearly, the decision was made to take the world of Blade Runner as an alternative universe. This is flagged up by, for example, showing us prominent logos of brands which were big in 1982, but either don't exist anymore (Pan Am, for example) or are not the force they once then (Atari). This isn't our (hopefully) more enlightened world. This is the sexist world of the original Blade Runner, carried forward in time.

So, personally, while concerns about its approach to women need voicing, it's perhaps not as bad as it appears.

If you've not seen anything to do with it, take a look at the trailer:


  1. I agree. It is internally consistent with the original, not a new take. I loved it. And the interweaving of the old and new music and sfx was masterful. Asked serious questions about the nature of reality and humanity.


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