I am so complicated. A “simple” decision about what I’ll eat for dinner can be explained in no less than seven single-spaced pages of thoughtful prose.
But other people? Oh, I know exactly why they do what they do. I also know what they should do.
Outside of the most ardent solipsists, this way of thinking is an incorrect representation of reality. Yet it is very much the standard for so many of us, so much of the time.
Fortunately, there will be moments when this absurdity can be clearly witnessed. And if one leans into these moments instead of becoming defensive or retreating into self-preserving rationalizations, one’s thinking can be improved to more properly align with reality.
Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) presented such a moment to K (Ryan Gosling) in the visually beautiful Blade Runner 2049. Part of this beauty was due to the fact that outside of the Dunkin’ Donuts logo, orange has never looked so cool. (Pink, brown, and orange? What a hideous combination of colors that miraculously works for Dunkin’ Donuts; I’ve never seen a logo that better overcomes such a high degree of difficulty.)
Blade Runner 2049 was also terribly boring, which is quite a sin given the endlessly interesting territories to cover in the genre of human-like robots.
Still, there was some substance beyond the window dressings.
The entire scene about memories was fantastic, even if I’m not sure it really added much to my thinking. Memories are important? Yup. Memories are a vital part of our humanity? Yup. You know if a memory is real based on the emotion tied to it? O.K., that was a little new. I’ll take it.
Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) offered some novel observations about humanity, namely that the biggest leaps in progress come from slaves. And that once humans get queasy about enslaving fellow humans, we will turn to robots, and again achieve massive gains. But robots will become so life-like that humans will feel guilty about the arrangement and try to “free” the robots. This action may ease human consciences, but it will come at the great cost of humans reaching their fullest potential. One may not like that Wallace sides with potential over conscience, but it’s hard to dispute his picture of the decision humans will face.
Blade Runner 2049 could have really explored the difficulty of this choice, but instead granted Wallace mere minutes of screen time (and by that fact alone ruled his decision as the wrong one). Still, it’s always refreshing when a “villain” is doing something seemingly “evil” that has decent enough logic behind it that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t so evil.
The most thought-provoking moment in Blade Runner 2049 was that aforementioned moment Deckard gifted to both K and the audience.
The audience, like K, is busy judging Deckard for hiding in isolation instead of uniting with his child. The audience, like K, is thinking it would never do such a thing. How could you ever just abandon a kid like that? How could you not want to meet your kid, be with your kid, raise your kid, etc.? That’s what love is, right?
We have it all figured out and Deckard knows nothing. The only explanation is that he’s a coward and an all-around terrible person and a perfect example of all that we will never be.