We Talk 'Blade Runner 2049,' Identity, and Choice on the New Waypoint 101 [Spoilers Abound]


#1

In an epic spoilercast that lasts almost—but not quite—as long as the film itself, Austin, Rob, and myself dig deep into the world of Blade Runner 2049. There are no holds barred here, as we go into the cinematography, politics, race and gender issues, and deeply individual reads of the movie, along with a little dose of everyone's history with the series.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/evbbpp/blade-runner-2049-spoilercast-race-sex-politics

#2

Oh shit, total recall the series! I hated the lead actors in that, but it had decent production design considering its low budgetness. Matthew Bennet who played one of the cylons in battlestar has a role in it IIRC.


#3

I’m going to assume we can openly discuss spoilers in this spoilercast thread?
This podcast is excellent so far, but I feel like they’re ascribing a bit more purely symbolic value to the idea of biological motherhood and live birth than the replicants themselves are. The film is absolutely concerned with “what that represents” re: personhood and stuff but the replicants themselves have a very real, very practical reason to value it: it would free them from the reproductive apparatus of the corporation. They can’t go off and steal a spaceship and found their own colony right now.

Its a small thing, because again I do think the film’s larger sort of thematics here are one of its missteps, but at least to me the replicants reverence for the idea of live birth is less “because it would make us people” and more “because it lets us escape”


#4

I’m just going go to ahead and green light this. Not much point chatting spoilercast without the spoilers…


#5

Regarding Joi:

I read that character as soley a programmed AI. None of her “feelings” towards K were Real. She unconditionally “loved” K. She fed into his every need, and wants, and fantasies. “he’s perfect, he is the chosen one, I’ll even give you a name”. It is exactly the sort of program or bot that you’d expect companies to sell, and to buyers/consumers who are lonely. Joi’s death was also not really a “self sacrifice”, it was again the AI putting it’s owner above all else to make the owner feel more special. She’s ready to “die” for him. Being extra cynical this could even feed back into the manufacturer even weighting the system towards such an outcome, to be able to sell more products.

I also read the sequence between K and the Joi billboard, as K realizing it never was real, and accepting that.

Also in my opinion, shows the difference between programmed AI, and Replicants, they aren’t the same thing. Replicants, even with all their “failsafes” do have some free will (they are more biological than programmed AI), as evidence by K, and Luv, having more wants (as opposed to Joi’s only want being to please K).

I’m really sad I missed seeing this at the “LieMax” in Stockholm, cause it’s such a beutiful movie.

Edit: hah! I paused the podcast to type this, and just after resuming very much the same sentiments were brought up by Robert.


#6

Somehow I’d missed the very existence of this podcast until now, and this was an amazing way to start. Massively appreciate the willingness to nerd the hell out and take seriously the various nuances of the movie, particularly its race and gender representation.


#7

Interesting that Austin touched on it very breifly as a sort of joking aside near the end, as I did kind of read Love as a second protagonist with like half her story cut out and reshot. Most egregiously her scenes with Wallace feel like they’re supposed to be hers, not Leto’s, but the camera doesn’t represent that. In general he feels like a side character to her own story, but I get the terrible suspicion that Leto wasn’t happy with that idea, and put pressure on the crew to reframe scenes that should have been about Love’s responce to his character as me me me look at me and how much of an Act-Or I am. If the inevitable extended cut does her justice I’ll be chuffed, she was great.

As a side note, it took until this podcast to find out that I’d thaught Love’s name was actually Angel. I’d been calling her Angel all this time and it never occured to be that it could be wrong, I swear that’s what she was called. I was even thinking about the implications of the name, and like, I think it’s better? Like, Love makes it seem like she’s some alegorical extension of Joi(Joy), which probably fits since it’s like, her actual name, and what the film was actually written/directed around, but it’s not the symbolism that I was picking up and looking for because I didn’t think that was her name. It’s weird.

I was also kinda of under the impression that part of Joi’s central character conceit is that she only exists in relation to someone else, that when K is out she barely, if it all, “exists”. Hence the importance of K’s “gift” allowing her to exist in a manner more like a “person”, even if it’s just as a Ghost follwing K around. I also really liked her introduction in retrospect, the way she flits between different preprogrammed steriotypes in responce to K, because knowing their relationship it’s clearer that that routine isn’t the “normal” way you’re supposed to interact with her. It’s like the two of them are playing with each other, K intimiately familiar with all her “settings” and Joi freely allowed to flit between them without express command. There’s a lot more going on there than I noticed at first because I didn’t know about their relationship as much as I do having watched the film in it’s entirity.


#8

Austin on Rachel is sooo like nah. Maybe its just not her, my dude.


#9

Has anyone else had issues listening through iTunes? I get about 30 minutes in and it either freezes or jumps to the 2 hour mark, and not having for the commute home is going to be killer.


#10

I’ve been listening through pocket casts, and had the same issue. I downloaded it through Google play though and it worked. I’m not sure why that would make a difference.


#11

Love’s arc was strange to me. The movie seemed to be setting her up as a sympathetic character at the beginning but by the end she was just a Heavy without much nuance apart from being the antagonist.

It seemed as if maybe she was supposed to have more autonomy than most replicants to produce the irony that she was more beholden to her “programming” than the others (being able to lie, but still killing Robin Wright’s character even though it seemed she didn’t want to?). But the back half of her story seems like it got lost.


#12

I had the same problem using Pocket Casts. I tried re-downloading the ep. but that didn’t work. It finally worked when I unsubbed and immediately re-subbed to Waypoint Radio.


#13

I came out of the film very conflicted about a lot of things, and have been enjoying this thorough discussion and hope it will allow me to sort out my thoughts.

So far, I mostly want to write the non-existent novel that Blade Runner 2049 is an adaptation of - it’s mostly about K and Joi. And then there’s a companion comic about the Replicant resistance.


#14

Luv was one of my favorite characters, and I think it was the right decision to not have her in the movie too much because keeping her motivations and how autonomous she really is/is not vague plays to the film’s strengths. I felt really sympathetic towards her character, because she was clearly designed to enjoy kicking people’s asses, and that’s the only way she can express herself. When she first meets K she’s clearly genuinely interested in him, but at the end she can only express that by beating him to death, it’s the one moment in the movie where she’s happy.

I also liked meta moment of when she kills JOI. She doesn’t consider JOI to be anything on her level, but when she says that snarky “We how you enjoyed our product” before killing her, she’s looking her right in the eyes instead of at K. And it was really strong to me that someone programmed liked she was would develop that fascist mindset of “this thing is weak and not even worthy of my notice” and “this thing is the greatest threat to my worth and must be destroyed” happening at the same time.

Wallace is a character that sees everything around him as someone’s master plan for domination, he can’t picture anything in any other way, so it figures his best replicant would turn out like that. The ones in the resistance (and K) are all able to rise above their orders because they had a dream or memory of some kind to reflect on (in some cases a shared one) that’s about them rising above what they are. Luv is the opposite and tries to do that on a physical level but without the emotional strength to back it up, so we see her repeatedly get shaken over a situation and then double down on her orders.


#15

I loved 2049 so much, despite not having seen the original, and I’m really glad this podcast has helped me collect my thoughts about it, beyond the initial awe.
I think two things stood out to me that I haven’t seen mentioned so far- one is how strange the Wallace building is in terms of interior design and lighting, and how entirely divorced that style is from what’s normally thought of as a “futuristic” style (white, bright, shiny). That sickly yellow is a great choice.
The second is Wallace turning his implant on and off as a power move (I believe they’re multiple camera eyes, but if they’re not this interpretation falls apart). When it’s on, he’s controlling the panopticon, when it’s off, he moves in on people’s personal space to touch them, in a menacing twist on that blind character trope. It’s a great way to make the character threatening whether or not he can see.


#16

I kind of had the opposite read on Wallace than they did. He wasn’t really living in the shadow of Tyrell, he had transcended Tyrell’s technology and produced something much better (as far as he was concerned). It comes through very clearly visually in the establishing shot of the Wallace Corporation building, you can see the old Tyrell Corp pyramid that seemed so massive previously in the original Blade Runner, completely dwarfed by the new Wallace buildings.


#17

My theory on Luv is that her goal is similar to the revolutionaries, wanting replicants to be able to reproduce so that they can no longer be regulated by lesser humans. The key difference is that she doesn’t need to live underground, on the run from authorities, to try and attain this goal: all she has to do is help Wallace create humanity’s undoing, then dispose of him.

I’m not sure how well the film supports this read — I’m looking forward to re-watching it come the home release — it’s mainly supposition based on Luv’s imperious presence and apparent distaste for Wallace.


#18

If you want to take it to its most cynical and hopeless extreme, I think you can definitely read Luv as peak white feminism.


#19

Oh Luv definitely has a “Fuck yours, got mine” vibe—she’s getting a future-manicure while casually directing a drone strike in one scene. But while she’s sitting in the lap of relative luxury she’s also very much aware of how precarious her position is. The scene with her, Wallace and the newborn “angel” is key to that reading, with Luv visibly tearing up as Wallace guts the poor replicant. I got the sense that she acts on his behalf so readily and unquestioningly because she knows the other fate that could await her.

And yeah, NeoRasa, Luv was my favourite character in a movie chock full of great new ones. Just a terrifying combo of will, self-righteousness and possible self-loathing.


#20

Really like this podcast. Had been looking for a good meat and potatoes pop culture podcast.

As for Joi. Her asking to be put in a stick does not mean she has free will or her own desires, asking to have sex over layered with the hooker, does not mean its her desire. K might not want to particularly do it, he just wants Joi to want to it. Remember, Joi says what you want to hear.

I’m not really sure if the movie is saying anything concretely about Joi, perhaps its purely just perspective.