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mygif

@highlyverbal: Yes, that’s all pretty much my point in a nutshell. 🙂 The society depicted in Blade Runner does have issues of denial and credulity, Deckard’s story is small, mean and petty, and Batty’s death is so full of fucking martyrdom that white doves fly past his body when he kicks it. 🙂 But the film ignores all that, because Ridley Scott is more interested in exploring the identity/mortality issues that come from the four-year lifespan and the false memories than he is in exploring the morality issues of creating an entire species purely to do your shit jobs, and then gifting them with enough self-awareness that they fucking know it.

I, personally, think that mortality/identity films are a dime a dozen, and that they always seem more profound than they really are (because they all ask the same question, and the answer always seems to be, “I ‘unno, love and shit?”) So I humbly suggest that someone makes a remake which explores the issues that the original papers over. I’m honestly surprised this is a big deal…it’s not like someone comes and tapes over all your copies of the original when the new one gets made. (For one thing, they’d have to figure out which version is which. I swear, Ridley Scott remade the film three times just by remixing the footage.)

@Kid Kyoto: TNG Klingons were space Japanese. Tokugawa-era, but space Japanese.

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mygif

@highlyverbal: It’s not so much a simple hero/villain dichotomy between Batty and Deckard, where each of them has to be one or the other. In the strictest terms they’re both villains: Batty had to murder people in order to get to Earth, and murdered a number of others after his arrival, and Deckard’s a professional executioner. But in the end, each of them refuses to continue the cycle they’ve been locked into by those who made them, and fights to save someone else’s life: Deckard flees north with Rachel, and Batty pulls Deckard from the edge of the roof.

Deckard knows that someone will be sent after Rachel, but he takes up his gun one last time to protect her. Batty knows that there’s no Silion Heaven, that the toasters just die, and there’s no forgiveness for what he’s done, but he saves Deckard from falling. But we never know why – and it’s entirely possible that Batty never does, either. This is why the versions of the movie without the voiceovers are superior, because they may ask the same question that John Seavey’s tired of hearing, but they refused to answer it. They just let it happen, and let the audience decide for themselves.

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highlyverbal said on August 22nd, 2012 at 3:01 am

@John Seavey: “I, personally, think that mortality/identity films are a dime a dozen, and that they always seem more profound than they really are”

Yeah, we totally have to look long and hard to find some preachy, heroic, overly-moralistic movies. If only there were some way to measure or compare how many of each category exist!

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mygif

@highlyverbal: So your argument is basically, “Other things in the past have sucked, therefore I am against doing things in the future, as they might suck as well.” Good on that! 🙂

It’s not impossible to do a good movie about ideas wherein those ideas are actually expressed by the people who hold them. Real people actually do that sometimes. Again, while subtlety is nice, it is just as possible to be too oblique as it is to be too preachy. There are movies out there where nobody ever says anything about anything, and they all just sit around making cryptic statements with forty-seven potential meanings and what action there is all gets crammed into about the last five minutes so that everyone can get in these speeches that sound pretty and profound but that don’t really mean anything, because the director and screenwriter were working so hard to make sure that they could mean whatever anyone wanted them to mean. These films focused so much on the aesthetics and the ambiguity that they forgot that ultimately, you have to fucking communicate your point to the audience or you don’t really have one, because an idea you don’t share is indistinguishable from not having an idea to begin with.

You know, like the original ‘Blade Runner’. 🙂

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highlyverbal said on August 22nd, 2012 at 2:22 pm

My most recent argument is that your claims about the super-abundance of a certain kind of movie could only be proven by counting or measuring.

Which we know you are allergic to.

So it’s just assertions tainted by confirmation bias at this point, no? I’ll pass. Pointing out the lack of (attempt at) proper evidence is sufficient in my book. I am sure you are smart enough to imagine what the corresponding counter-assertions would be to your assertions, if piling up assertions is the only way you can determine if an empirical statement seems well-supported.

==========

If your strawperson was an attempt to encapsulate some other portion of this thread, you will have to provide a quote for me to parse it further.

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mygif

@highlyverbal: When I said that “films like this are a dime a dozen”, I didn’t literally mean that they represent a percentage of the per annum output of Hollywood that is unacceptable due to its disproportionate ratio to other films that explore different issues, and that this is a discrepancy that must be addressed (possibly through a committee that analyzes desirable representation values for given themes and subtexts, and assigns to different filmmakers the correct scripts needed to bring these up to spec.) Because that would be, y’know…kind of crazy.

I don’t want to be rude, because I’m starting to consider the possibility that you might honestly have some sort of mild autistic spectrum condition that makes you demand quantification on everything, and makes you upset and prone to angry dismissals of the other person’s argument when that can’t be provided, but…well, if that is the case, I hope your therapy is progressing well. If it isn’t the case, maybe you should consider seeing a psychiatrist? I don’t say that to dismiss your opinion, but out of a legitimate concern that you have a mental health condition that’s not being treated, which might make it difficult for you to interact with others. I have good friends who fall in the Asperger’s/autistic spectrum range, and there are a lot of good people out there who can help you learn how to manage your condition.

But on the more basic level of this specific discussion, you’re right. I’m not going to sit down and count out movies like “Moon”, “Vanilla Sky”, “Dark City”, “Total Recall” or “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” to see if there really is too much of an obsession with questions of identity and self in the motion pictures. I’m just going to say that for me, the answers always feel unsatisfying and I’d prefer a different take on the novel in question. I’m sorry if that answer doesn’t make sense to you.

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mygif

@John Seavey: I’m confused, you proclaim you follow Roland Barthe’s Death of the Author in one post only to directly contradict yourself by admitting your reading of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep being informed by what you have read about Dick in a biography. You can’t do both.

Also your attempts at drawing parallels between political philosophy and a novel fails to illuminating for either subject.

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mygif

@Chus: Sure I can. 🙂 I don’t feel that criticism has to be bound by authorial intent (that way lies Jose Luis Borges’ short story, “Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote”) but it doesn’t mean that I am never allowed to recognize its existence. Different analyses call for different approaches, and different explorations lead in lots of equally interesting directions. Pointing out Dick’s intent when writing “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, and then pointing out ways that the finished work did and did not reflect that work, is meant to be a springboard for further discussion, not the answer to a Venn diagram.

As to whether or not it succeeded…to you, it didn’t. Sorry. Hope other people got something out of it.

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highlyverbal said on August 23rd, 2012 at 1:37 pm

@John Seavey: You most certainly were using the super-abundance of “identity” films as a motivation for exploring other Blade Runner outcomes.

As to the rest of the ad hominems, projection, and strawpersons… I thank you for your concern, but I fear your diagnostic toolkit may be tainted by confirmation bias. I am quite certain you were trying to be rude, since no rational person would believe that this kind of remote diagnosis is valid or helpful. At least own it. For shame, sir.

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mygif

I think that Seavey is hoping to demonstrate how to be decent/empathetic!

Sure, if you disagree with him too often, he’ll dehumanize you. But hey, it’s not a slur because he has black friends! Oops, I mean friends with “your condition.”

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mygif

“I am quite certain you were trying to be rude, since no rational person would believe that this kind of remote diagnosis is valid or helpful.”

Yeah, that was…pretty friggin’ awful. Sickeningly so.

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“I don’t say that to dismiss your opinion, but out of a legitimate concern that you have a mental health condition that’s not being treated, which might make it difficult for you to interact with others. I have good friends who fall in the Asperger’s/autistic spectrum range, and there are a lot of good people out there who can help you learn how to manage your condition.”

I’ve re-read this to see if there’s anything more to it than barely-veiled viciousness, and I’m not seeing it.

Anyone who would write something like this as a backhanded way of snarking at someone over the internet, in effect making light of a legitimate medical condition (“good friends” notwithstanding) while using said condition as a bludgeon in the name of textbook reductionism, has ZERO right to opine on what does/doesn’t make a “good” or “bad” person.

Snark is snark, and words are words, but anyone who thinks of themselves as some kind of enlightened thinker/debater ought to know that there are lines one ought not cross. Not codified, obviously, but certainly to be considered if one wants to be taken seriously in discussions.

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mygif

@Matt: No, I really was serious when I said there was no snark or rudness intended. I really, legitimately did wonder if there were communications issues that were due to some sort of undisclosed mental health situation, because I’m trying to understand how to communicate with highlyverbal and it always seems to come back to the same issues. And yes, they are issues associated with autistic spectrum disorders, which I feel are underdiagnosed among sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts (what are commonly called “geeks”.) People ding us for lack of social skills, but I think that more often than people are willing to recognize, that’s not learned so much as innate.

I wouldn’t even try to claim it was a diagnosis, because I’m not a mental health professional and don’t pretend to be one. But I’m not a medical doctor, either, and if I saw someone swaying on their feet, sweating profusely and clutching at their chest, I’d still suggest they go to urgent care. 🙂

And I didn’t intend for it to be the end of the discussion, either. If highlyverbal had come back and said, “Yes, I am coping with an autistic spectrum disorder, but I think that this benefits me because it forces the people I’m dealing with to deal in terms of solid facts and not abstracts,” then that helps me know how to get my point across in ways he understands…and what terms not to use when discussing things with him because they’ll lead the discussion off on non-useful tangents. Learning how to communicate with someone should never be seen as a bad thing, and I really and sincerely hope that people are never so ashamed of their mental conditions as to avoid mentioning them even when it helps the other person find ways of communicating. It is sad that it happens, and responses that suggest that the topic should never be brought up because it’s “vicious” to suggest it probably don’t help.

A suggestion that someone visit a mental health professional is only stigmatic because we choose to make it so. I tried my absolute hardest not to put it into any kind of pejorative terms, because that wasn’t my intent, and I tried to keep it separate from the specific topic of discussion. But I don’t think that anyone should refrain from encouraging people to do things that would make their lives better, and as I said, I do know many people who have found ways to manage their Asperger’s (for example) in ways that improve their social interaction, while not involving medication or labeling them as “sick”. It’s all about finding the way your brain functions, and finding ways to use that instead of working against it.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether an apology is necessary, here. On the one hand, I do not like the idea of apologizing for suggesting someone might have an autistic spectrum disorder, because that implies that it’s an insult, and it is NOT. It’s saying you think about things differently, and I get very upset at the suggestion that it’s an inherently pejorative term. On the other hand, if highlyverbal did come away feeling that his opinions are being dismissed and that he’s being belittled, that’s something I don’t want either and I would feel sorry for making him feel bad regardless of the intent.

On the third hand, I hate wishy-washy “if you were offended” apologies…but again, given that I feel that apologizing buys into the framing of the situation that it’s inherently demeaning to suggest someone might have an autistic spectrum disorder, that’s all I can offer. I cannot bring myself to suggest that it’s an insult to say someone might have an ASD, and so I can’t apologize for insulting someone by suggesting it. But if I made anyone uncomfortable or upset by discussing it, I will apologize for that.

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mygif

Sorry but thats a crock of sh*t, you cast aspersions on his mental health in order to dismiss his arguments. Thats why its insulting, whats more insulting is your attempt at deflecting the focas on your disrespectful comments and trying to frame it as some sort of noble championing of mental health awareness.

I always thought you were the worse contributor on this site, your half-assed apology vindicates this and then some.

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mygif

@Chus: I know you might not believe this, given your self-avowed opinion of me, but I don’t dismiss anyone’s arguments. I read yours, for example, and while I saw a certain amount of bias in there (it’s hard not to think that maybe someone who “always thought you were the worst contributor on this site” might not be interested in giving you the benefit of the doubt) I still wanted to give your thoughts all due consideration. It’s the right thing to do.

So I talked to my wife. I asked her what she thought. She looked over the thread, and said, “No, you were out of line. No matter what your intent was, and no matter what you thought about the statement in your head, there’s no way to make that suggestion in a public forum without it coming off as hurtful. You might want there to not be a stigma attached to the mental health profession, but what you want and what you think isn’t important. What’s important is what you communicate, and you can’t communicate the idea that someone has a mental health problem without it shutting down the discussion and making the other person feel hurt.” (I condense this slightly here.)

And while I know some of you said much the same thing, I hope you’ll understand when I say that my wife is a much more trustworthy source. 🙂 I have to accept that what I meant is not as important as what I said, and what I said was hurtful, whether I meant it to be or not. I think every writer at some point has to relearn that harsh lesson that communication is in the mind of the listener, not the mind of the speaker, and there’s no such thing as “inadvertently” offending someone. The responsibility is always mine.

And since that is my responsibility, I am sorry to highlyverbal for saying something hurtful. Because it really doesn’t matter if I intended it to hurt or not, and it doesn’t matter if it would or should be hurtful in another context. In this context, it hurt you, and I’m sorry.

I know apologies or explanations only go so far, and you’re not obligated to forgive me. But I also know it’s better to hear an apology than to not hear one.

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bad johnny got out said on August 27th, 2012 at 1:33 am

Anyway.

In short, we don’t have to empathize with them because we passed the empathy test. … ‘Blade Runner’ avoids that paradox for too much of its running length

There are only two kinds of (real) people in 2019 A.D.: cops, and little people.

Cops aren’t going to give themselves the Voight-Kampff. Why would they? The only reason a cop would submit to Voight-Kampff would be to live a few minutes longer, with a gun to his head, during a purge.

Little people don’t take Voight-Kampff either. Who cares what the little people do? They’re little people!

(Okay, that’s not 100% true. Sometimes there are false positives, and humans are retired by mistake. That is a risk.)

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mygif

I’m coming to this really late but I agree with John Seavey when he says that Blade Runner doesn’t explore its themes enough. The movie is frustratingly vague and similar to Prometheus. A bunch of questions asked with no concern for the answers or the implications of the questions themselves. It’s not “intellectual”, or “subtle” or “show don’t tell”, it’s lazy and under-thought. If I asked a mind-bending question and left the room would you call me a genius? No. But that’s exactly what Blade Runner does.

I have no problem praising the movie for its aesthetic and visual design, but its themes are a mess.

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mygif

You know, Seavey struck me as a wrong ‘un from the start because of his damn smilies. His awful misreading of Dick’s novel, smug mental health flame, and fictional wife who gasses on just as badly as he does all add up to a pretty impressively irritating experience.

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mygif

Weird to criticize the film and novel for failing to address the question you focus on, when that question is the WHOLE EFFING POINT OF THE NOVEL, as many have pointed out above.

Having taught this novel and film many times at the university level, I award
@Edgar Allan Poe August 19th, 2012 at 12:14 am

A+ for best, most concise comment in the thread, with

Xander77 said on August 18th, 2012 at 8:41 am

as runner-up.

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