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Blade Runner is now a vision of the past and we have 30 years of serious catching up to do

Screenshot: Guillermo St (YouTube)

As of today, November 1 2019, Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner is now a vision of the past and a reminder of the future we failed to achieve. Look around you and you’ll notice a disturbing lack of hover cars, robotic Rutger Hauers, and omnipresent Vangelis music. Even our urban hellscapes, unaffordable and choked with pollution as they are, don’t have the generosity to exist in layers of ominous fog and provide locals with cheap, readily available ramen stands.

This is something the internet, especially among those who hold Blade Runner in high esteem, has noticed and marked, with joy or despair, through countless tweets highlighting the movie’s opening text crawl. It has escaped nobody’s notice that the setting of a far-flung “future” is defined as “LOS ANGELES. NOVEMBER, 2019.”


While some have pointed out that, yes, we have managed to fuck up California just fine in our own ways, robot people or not, the existential terror of Blade Runner’s take on the future hasn’t been mitigated at all by being able to enjoy the movie’s retrofuturist aesthetic. (And no, the return of overalls, fanny packs, and high-waisted jeans don’t count.)


Still, before we give into despair over how boring our own dystopian 2019 looks, we should remember that there is another Blade Runner movie, Denis Villeneuve’s excellent 2017 sequel, that gives until 2049 to really get our nightmarish shit together.


Only three decades remain before we not only have to create robots so indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood humans that they collapse into utter despair while contemplating new definitions of the Self, but also consumer-grade holographic AI programs that upend our notion of what traditional love entails and, for god’s sake, the flying cars we’ve been promised for decades now.

We’ve done a good job getting 2049's horrifyingly uneven class dynamics set up and done our best to set the course for its stomach-churning vision of a world wracked with endless apocalyptic storms and annihilated ecosystems. But, really, if we want to get the rest of Blade Runner accomplished there’s only 30 more years left for us to learn from our 2019 mistakes, put our heads together, and really fuck things up in style.


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About the author

Reid McCarter

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.