Voyou Désœuvré

blade_runner_final_cut Taking a stand on the perennial Blade Runner debate, Žižek declares that Deckard is indeed a replicant, and that the fact that the film doesn’t make this explicit is a “conformist compromise which cuts off the subversive edge” of the film’s “blurring of the line of distinction between humans and androids” (Tarrying With the Negative, 11). But surely this is the wrong way around: if Deckard is simply a replicant, there’s no blurring of the distinction between humans and androids, because all Deckard’s apparently android qualities are explained by his actually being an android; the moral of the story becomes, “sucks to be a replicant.”

This is not to deny, of course, that there is a great deal of evidence in the film that suggests that Deckard is a replicant. But what blurs the distinction between human and android is the film’s refusal to confirm what it constantly implies about Deckard, which is the best illustration of Žižek’s point that “the difference which makes me ‘human’ and not a replicant is to be discerned nowhere in ‘reality'” (40). One could even defend the original ending in these terms (which Žižek calls an “imbecile happy-ending”); even if Deckard and Rachel did escape to live a complete life together, it would never be long enough to prove them human.


  1. Ian Mathers, 8:53 am, July 3, 2009

    This is another case where I seriously wonder whether the person arguing that Deckard is a replicant ever read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Not because the book tells us in any definite way what’s going on in the film (and god, Ridley Scott’s recent new versions have just confirmed the notion that the director also shouldn’t be taken as the arbiter of what’s going on in the film), but because it is background/context whether Žižek wants it to be or not, and it becomes clear pretty damn early that any film adaptation of (part of) DADoES? that doesn’t leave Deckard unresolvedly human is doing a great deal of violence to the issues, themes and conclusions that Dick was working with.

    He loved the rough cut of the movie, of course, and he was perfectly fine with the fact that the movie missed large parts of the book because, as he said, “These matters don’t translate to the screen. And why translate them, since a novel is a story in words, whereas a movie is an event that moves?” But while PKD also doesn’t get to be an arbiter of what the movie ‘should’ be, I think it’s telling that the version he enjoyed so much didn’t have the stupid fucking voiceover.

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