Blade Runner: 2 STARS

*Happy New Year! My New Year’s message to you can be summed up in 3 words: Fuck Russell Crowe. It is not often a film/feminism article trends on facebook so I feel it’s worth mentioning. For those who haven’t seen it Russell chooses to share his so called opinions on older actresses complaining of being offered fewer and poorer quality roles in Hollywood. According to Russell this paucity of roles for older women is an illusion. Women, such as Rosanna Arquette who has complained of this phenomenon, believe there are no roles because they are so demanding, they want to play ‘ingenues’ (ingenues are young women I think, it’s hard to tell) and if they would only accept the many rich roles open to older women maybe they would be more laid back and cool and successful (like Russell himself). Well to that one can say little more than Fuck You Russell. To enjoy such massive privilege, to be offered so many massive roles (I mean he was just Noah ffs) and then to suggest that Rosanna Arquette, who is twice the actor he will ever be, does not get those roles because she’s a fussy bitch who wants to play a 20 year old. Just look at Meryl Streep, Crowe cunningly argues. Well Russell, I think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said it best when they were hosting the Golden Globes “And here’s Meryl Streep who stands as living testimony to the fact that there are great roles in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 50.” Once again: Fuck Russell Crowe*

(SPOILERS. The spoilers for this film will be two fold. Firstly I will discuss the plot. Secondly I will probably spoil this film for you if you like it, or if you haven’t seen it. Because I basically think it is massively over hyped. Some of it is really great. The replicants are really great. But Harrison Ford is like a charm black hole and the misogyny is palpable. And there are trigger warnings required, BIG TW. There is rape in this film. Some would deny this. Indeed in ‘Dangerous Days: The Making of Bladerunner, which I am watching right this second, while typing which is hard, everyone refers to this as a ‘love scene’. Which disgusts me. Also there is lots of violence towards women, abuse and coercion. As a side note, Happy happy days)

“I think Sebastian, therefore I am” – Pris

So. 2 stars. A terrible score. And I seriously dabbled with the idea of giving it 1. I don’t think you can really contest any of the missing 8. There are women in this film. They are all replicants (fancy robots for those not in the know) and the idea of robot women is already difficult. One is described as “A standard pleasure model”. So to some extent they are sex toys. With thoughts and feelings and emotions. Very difficult. On the other hand, this could be cool, as Joanna Cassidy says, she is as strong as a man, as intelligent as a man, a superwoman, an amazon, cut from the same cloth as Lady Croft perhaps. Except that is not the impression one is left with. Lots of nudity. Heavy sexualisation. Daryl Hannah does some cracking acting which is sort of belittled as merely a robot prostitute’s lies to get where she wants. She, and Joanna Cassidy’s characters are also brutally murdered. Unnecessarily brutally I think. But worse than all of this is that awful Gone Girl-esque championing of ‘darkness’, or ‘moral ambiguity’ which, instead of encouraging complexity, and allowing one to subvert the expected, merely goes on to prop up those most boring of misogynistic norms and, ultimately, allows ‘our hero’ to be a rapist and be applauded for it. Which is one of the worst things ever. So onwards and downwards

The Bechdel Test

– Developed Female Relationships

(The women don’t speak to each other. Ever. They are isolated so that Harrison Ford can encounter and abuse them one by one. Perhaps that’s a loaded way of putting it but this is neither the time nor place for measured impartiality. Also that is what happens. Zhora and Pris are never seen together, rather the replicants, who seem to adhere to human patriarchal structures for no given reason, pair off nicely into heterosexual couples. And are led by a man. The idea of Rachael maybe being a lesbian is dangled before us when she is asked the question ‘what would you do if you saw a picture of two naked women’ but quickly it is clear that, as Harrison’s questions go on to say, he is not checking if she is a lesbian, he is checking what she would do if her imaginary husband found this attractive. Even the suggestion of female/female relations is made entirely about the male gaze. We are not getting off to a good start)

STAR: Non-stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, Prominent Female Characters

(Ok here lie the only stars. As I have said already I was hesitant about giving the second one. But why should the female characters, and the actresses who played them be punished for the evils of others. Daryl Hannah is fantastic, and Sean Young is haunting because her strength is so utterly destroyed. But these characters are interesting despite – not because of –  the many challenges both the plot and the mechanics of the film present them with)

No Excessive Air of Misogyny

– No Rigid Adherence to Gender Norms

(Such an excessive air of misogyny. So excessive. The weird thing is that there are efforts in the other direction. Harrison comes into Zhora’s dressing room, supposedly to check it for spy holes and to question her about whether she had been exploited in her role as a snake dancer at the club (cool job, that’s really her snake as well, the actress’s, so cool). He is fighting misogyny in the work place, or so it would seem. Actually he has broken into her room because he wants to kill her (and so we, and he, can look at her naked body, obviously). The ‘standard pleasure model’ that is Daryl Hannah is basically used as a sexual distraction for Sebastian by her lover and, well, a standard pleasure model, by the camera man. Oh and Harrison Ford coerces/forces a recently traumatised woman into sex. It’s a smorgasbord of misogyny really)

No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

No Objectification of the Female Body

(Lots of breasts. Viewed specifically in the context of invasion of female privacy. And fight scenes which are disturbingly sexualised. Also when one listens to the vast hosts of straight white men involved in the making of this film talk about casting, the ‘physical perfection’ of these actresses seems to be their most important feature. Oh and youth, don’t want someone too ‘worldly’, obviously. Urgh)

No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No Threat of Male Violence Against Women

(TW Now here’s the rub. Two grisly murders of women by old Harry. And then the rape scene. Which is so obviously a rape scene. She’s crying. She tries to leave. He stops her. He pushes her up against the wall. And then ever so chillingly says “Say ‘Kiss Me'”. What kind of a fucked up way to rob someone who has just found out that they are a robot (with all its connotations of a lack of agency) of all of their agency. She says that she can’t rely on her memories (ie NO HARRISON FUCK OFF) and then he repeats ‘Say “Kiss Me”‘ while continuing to physically restrain her. This is rape. Later he draws the sheet off her face and I genuinely thought he might have killed her. What the fuck kind of ‘love scene’ is this? The robots love each other more than Harrison loves her, maybe that’s the point, maybe she and Harrison are robots too (she definitely is, maybe he is too, woooo little paper horse, woooo it’s as annoying a possibility as the end of Inception). This is not a morally ambiguous hero. This is a rapist)

So terrible basically. 2 stars. And 2 bonus points, also pretty pathetic. 1 for the many Asian ladies who bunny about the street, and 1 for women in traditionally masculine roles. Because being a super human robot with massive strength is typically masculine, although it doesn’t serve any of our super human ladies very well in their battles with the shit normal human Harrison. Dustin Hoffman was the first choice for this film. What a wondrous thing it could have been with him instead. Maybe. Or maybe it would have just ruined Dustin Hoffman for me too. I think it is very beautiful, I love science fiction, and I think Rutger Hauer gives a performance that could blow your socks off. Memories which disappear like tears in the rain, that line was his idea, such good stuff. The women are also great, though tragically ill treated, but Harrison is terrible, in every sense. I am left only with Rutger’s question to Harrison: “I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren’t you the good man?”

*A note on the book (one day I will review a film which is not based on anything) Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ – such a good title –  Basically I haven’t read it yet but I think I will and when I do I will update. If anyone has read it then let me know and I will share your views which I’m sure are brilliant*

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One thought on “Blade Runner: 2 STARS

  1. Pingback: STAR LEAGUE | Feminist Film Stars

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