Study Guide

Blade Runner Society and Class

Society and Class

DECKARD: "Skin jobs." That's what Bryant called Replicants. In history books he's the kind of cop who used to call black men "n*****s."

Cringe.

This is from the voiceover version of the film. There's a bit of irony here, and it might demonstrate what some people don't like about the voiceover. While Bryant considers the replicants to be even less than second-class citizens—this makes him akin to a contemporary racist—it's important to remember that Deckard's job is to kill replicants for the crime of trying to escape from slavery. So, it's not like he's necessarily more enlightened than Bryant—at least not at the beginning.

BRYANT: Stop right where you are! You know the score, pal! You're not a cop, you're "little people."

In this society, blade runners like Deckard aren't considered to be a super-cops or anything. They're doing dirty work, considered somewhat distasteful.

TYRELL: Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. "More human than human" is our motto.

Tyrell has created an entire class of slave laborers purely from commercial motives, which demonstrates his own wickedness. He's one of the businessman-tyrants who've helped engineer this nightmarish future version of L.A. Also, his replicants are "more human than human" in that they're biological creatures who've been engineered to function better than humans do. But is reaping profit really what makes us human?

DECKARD: The charmer's name was Gaff. I'd seen him around. Bryant must have upped him to the Blade Runner unit. That gibberish he talked was city-speak, guttertalk, a mishmash of Japanese, Spanish, German, what have you. I didn't really need a translator. I knew the lingo, every good cop did. But I wasn't going to make it easier for him.

In Blade Runner's version of L.A., the society is so linguistically and ethnically diverse that it's become a fusion of tons of cultures all intermingled at once. But the movie doesn't depict this in a positive way (compare Star Trek and its World Federation, for example). All these diverse communities seem to be trapped in a grimy, decaying underworld, without great opportunities for social advancement.

ROY: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.

Threatening Deckard with death, Roy tries to get him empathize with his own experience—to understand what he's had to endure throughout his entire life. Apparently, Deckard gets the message.

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