Sunday, September 7, 2003

Are you a replican or a replicant?

OK, kids. The topic of the day being "Blade Runner." The question of the day being, Deckard's identity. Is he is, or is he ain't, a replicant?

The facts are in, the dust has settled, the consensus has solidified.

Deckard is a replicant.

The robo-Deckard faction takes gleeful satisfaction in the fact. There's a Where's Waldo compulsion to pile up clues and say, "See, I told you so."

Deckard's glowing eyes.
You've done a man's job, sir.
Yatta, yatta, yatta.

Fine. I'm sticking to my story. I hate the Deckard-is-a-Replicant intepretation. The arch cleverness of the concept weakens Blade Runner's thematic spine. I.e.: Who's human and who ain't?

Let's say Deckard is human but a cold fish, nonetheless. Lacking in empathy. Let's say the Nexus-6 model is starting to develop empathy. Deckard (human) and the replicants live inside the fuzzy intersection of two sets. The replicants are developing humanity; the certified "human" is losing his. Discovering an empathy with the replicants reawakens Deckard's humanity. The point being: humanity isn't written in the DNA. To feel empathy is to be human. Humanity is a verb. Humanity is something you do. Some womb-born humans aren't human. Some vat-grown replicants are.

It's a strong point.

This point is lost if Deckard's fellow feeling for the replicants is explained by the fact that he is a replicant. I.e.: the Nazi concentration camp guard starts to think that the notion that Jews aren't human is a lie. He's starting to fall in love with one of the inmates. But, guess what? It turns out he's actually Jewish!!!!

It's a gimmick. It kicks the legs out from under the story. It rips its heart out.

Yeah, maybe Ridley had it in his head.

But I hate it.