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The Future and Fear Go Hand In Hand

Essay by   •  December 4, 2011  •  Case Study  •  2,518 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,876 Views

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The Future and Fear Go Hand in Hand

The film Blade Runner portrays numerous gothic conventions that seem to be predicted as naturally prevalent in future America. The setting of the film, use of supernatural beings, and the portrayal of an aristocratic villain are among the most obvious of gothic features utilized in the film. A dark, fiery wasteland representing Los Angeles in 2019, human clones named "replicants", and an authoritative character named Dr. Eldon, all represent cultural anxieties that overwhelmed America in the 1970's and early 80's. Events occurring world wide, but more precisely in the US, led to innumerable fears of what was in store in the future for our planet and country. What role were technological advances going to play in the future? Was the government going to be able to adapt to the changes and keep social order? Was the growth of foreign influence going to take over and wash away American identity? Was globalization going to adversely affect our environment? The truth was, nobody knew how the future was going to pan out, which inevitably led to fear, but the immense fear of the unknown was the underlying reason for all of the cultural anxieties felt at the time.

Globalization was a primary concern for Americans as many consequences arise from globalization, which instilled fear in the people. Blade Runner displays foreign influence, a consequence of globalization, in nearly every scene. The backdrop of the city is dominated by advertisements displaying Asian influence in America. The streets are filled with foreigners, who seem to dominate the society from an economical and cultural viewpoint. Businesses have foreign ownership and all the employees are foreign as well. The inhabitants have even created their own language referred to as "city talk" deriving from a mixture of foreign languages such as German, Japanese, and Spanish, which seems to have taken over from English. The only sign of any American activity is within the Tyrell Corporation and the police force, which also has a foreign influence. The depiction of strong foreign influence within the film portrays the fears of immigration and globalization, which was a common anxiety from the 1960's up until the present day in America.

An article derived from The Wall Street Journal titled, "Americans First", displays the fears of illegal aliens' influence on the job market. The article states that "there are six to eight million illegal aliens in the US and their impact is disproportionally large in major cities", which is easy to see in the film as all of the businesses in this major city are owned by foreigners. With "many doing undesirable jobs at pay too low to attract American workers", the fear that their numbers will continually increase until they are the majority is a common one. The replicants directly represent immigrants in America who were not wanted. Due to restrictions made by the police force, the replicants were not allowed to be in the city and if found they were to be shot on sight. In the 70's the government made restrictions in order to keep the number of illegal aliens at a minimum just as they did in the film. It's obvious that the city is in a constant state of chaos and safety seems to be a concern for many living within it. The reoccurrence of intricate locks on doors symbolize our national security and further displays the fear of invasion from immigrants and foreign influence that were ever so commonly felt at this time in history.

The anxiety felt surrounding our environmental future is portrayed within the film as well. The setting takes place in a seemingly nuclear wasteland with no signs of wildlife anywhere to be seen as the conditions seem too unstable to home any wildlife. The continual rain and the inability to determine day from night throughout the film also reflects a concern that our climate is changing and will continue to do so at an alarming rate if we don't take action until, ultimately, we live in irreversible wasteland. The fear of environmental damage and instability became a topic of discussion during the 1970's as we began to see adverse affects occurring within our ecosystem.

An article from 1971 in The Wall Street Journal titled, "Changing Times", states that a "serious debate is beginning for the first time about whether the spiral of more people, more industry and more environmental damage should be brought to a halt", which shows that the decade prior to the Blade Runner's release was a time environmental awareness was becoming more prominent in society. The article goes onto state that environmentalists predictions are looking so bleak for the future they say that by the year 2000, "severe environmental problems will occur no matter what the level of pollution control is". These predictions alone instill immense fear in the American population as they see these warnings as signs of having no possibility for a healthy future planet. As said in the article by Larry Williams, "The 'Los Angelization' of Oregon is under way", which stands out, as the film is set in a future Los Angeles and depicts the end result of the environmental problems we were beginning to notice in the 1970's, an apocalyptic environment not suitable for normal life. With predictions that "the United States will eventually exhaust the nations resources and make many places virtually uninhabitable" many people began to imagine a world after our resources have dried up and we are left to relish in the consequences of our actions. Blade Runner puts those imaginations into a realistic view of the future through a mass produced film, which led to a further concern for our well being. The film created an "off world" planet that was depicted as a cleaner and much more stable society. This was the product of the fear that "the idea of a finite planet was clear" and humanity was going to require a relocation in order to thrive. With space exploration on the rise as well many thought this outcome was going to be reality by the year 2000 and environmental anxieties could easily be seen at an all time high throughout the 1970's. An increase in population and consumption weren't the only reasons we were beginning to see negative side affects to our environment. The extreme growth and advances in technology were taking a toll on our people and planet as well.

Technological advances dominated the 60's and 70's and received mixed views from the people. Although technology was seen as beneficial and intriguing by most, an anxiety arose out of these advances as people began to question the seemingly limitless capabilities of



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