Blade Runner 2049 (Case Study)

Authored by: Matthew Flisfeder

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  November  2019

Print ISBN: 9780815351931
eBook ISBN: 9781351139885
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 as exemplary of recent cyberpunk culture. It interprets the film against the backdrop of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, drawing upon the concept of “capitalist realism,” developed by the cultural theorist Mark Fisher. Using Fisher’s concept of capitalism, this chapter argues the film is used to address contradictions and problems in contemporary critical theories, such as new materialism and posthumanism. As a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, Villeneuve’s film is compared to the original to develop some of the thematic differences between the two and to show how the new film expresses the contemporary significance of cyberpunk as an ethical genre. It brings to the surface two of the most pressing ethical dilemmas facing us today—climate change and digital automation—and shows how the film raises questions about the essence of human subjectivity and its relation to these problems.

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