Blade Runner and Women- A Movie Review by Sydney Lykins
In anticipation of Blade Runner 2, I reviewed the original Blade Runner. If you haven’t seen the original yet, this does contain spoilers.
Blade Runner is an iconic movie in the science fiction world, but my question is, why it is still such a “need-to-see?” Overall, the idea of the movie is not bad, but the way certain stereotypes and people are portrayed can be really insulting. One can tell how this movie models after Metropolis in how it only uses females as robots and very little for good (as well as the noir, rainy feel that it has).
First off, the movie does have a very noir and robot-y theme going on. This follows closely with Metropolis in that it is in black and white, which gives it a darker tone visually, and has robots that are out to do some damage. The one scene that I found most similar to Metropolis was the very last scene where Deckard and Roy were fighting on the roof of the building. The men fight all the way up to the roof, and then while on the roof, one almost falls to his death. It follows the ideas from the movie.
The lead up to this point, too, is similar in that there is a very long middle of the movie and then all the sudden, boom, the end. It seemed cut short because of the immediate “boom” ending, but it suited the film. Another thing that I found in the movie was a place called “The Bradbury.” I was wondering if this was an allusion to the author Ray Bradbury.
Now for the more important matter. All the females shown in this movie are robots and two out of the three are villainous. The first lady that we meet, Rachael, has been tricked to think that she is a regular person, when really she is pretty much just a slave to Tyrell for his own experimentation. And once she figures out that she is a replication and makes friends with Deckard, she is drawn into him and the movie takes a turn in showing scenes resembling sexual assault. Deckard tells her to ask him to kiss her, so in a way, he is getting some consent, but at the same time, he is telling her what to do. I did not personally like that scene because it made me uncomfortable, as he is taking advantage of her in a vulnerable state. When someone (girls mostly) takes their hair down from the up-kept style it is always in, that usually means that they are allowing themselves to trust someone and to be vulnerable. This is what Rachael has done, and Deckard is taking it for granted because (even though he kills replicants) he likes her appearance. For Rachael, as in all the women in this film, a dominant male figure is in charge of them and they always listen without a fight.
Now onto Priss. She is an exotic dancer that wears a lot of makeup to make herself resemble a doll or toy. Not only does this choice in makeup make her less human to men, but it makes them treat her as though she is only something to be played with. She is in some sort of relationship with Roy, who controls her in every sense of the word throughout this movie. She also uses the fact that she is attractive in order to get to know Sebastian so that Roy can take over and do what he wants. It is like a femme-fatale, but where she only does the evil things because Roy tells her to so that he can get what he wants.
Lastly, there is Zhora, a prostitute with snakes who is also a replicant. The general fact that she is a prostitute is already a stereotype for women that leads to the idea that she does not deserve respect from men. When she runs away from Deckard, her outfit is even revealing to the point that I was pretty sure it could have just been tape and a clear trench coat. It turns out that it was similar to just a very revealing bathing suit, but that does not change the fact that she is shown only to be something for a man’s pleasure. She never did anything explicitly wrong that we saw throughout the movie, and I do not personally know how I feel about her death. Her character as a prostitute seemed very unnecessary.
To sum up my thoughts on the portrayal of women in Blade Runner, I believe this film only used them as replicants to do the bidding for the men. They are objects to be used however is deemed needed, and they are stereotypical women that men seem to like.