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From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@siriusfiction.com>
Subject: (urth) OT: Bladerunner and Planet of the Apes
Date: Tue, 21 Aug 2001 13:18:52 

Nutria wrote:
>Go for it. I'm interested. I found the Disney-Pinocchio twists interesting,
>but I thought Bladerunner addressed the fundamental issue better.

In light of this year's "Planet of the Apes" fiasco (hey, you all know me,
I'm rabidly against remakes--and I was never a huge fan of the Apes
franchise, either--so I was quite opposed to seeing this year's PotA, even
though I like much of Tim Burton's stuff.  But then there was the San
Francisco Chronicle's rave review, with little man jumpping out of his
seat, and a weekend day I simply had to stay out of the house . . . ) I
have a new wild theory about sf films as a continuum, related to the
original "Planet of the Apes" and "Bladerunner."

This is it: PotA comes from a French novel (I read it ages ago), and
presumably it is therefore an outgrowth of the experience of the French
Empire in 20th century decline (mainly I'm thinking of Algeria, but just
for black/white racial tension throw in equatorial possessions, too); the
original American film, being American, was taken as a polarization of
black/white USA, and PotA tries, however naively/badly, to show that sfnal
"otherness" by saying, "well yes, there is racial tension/inequality, but
what if the different `races' really were different species?" which
unfortunately (complicated themes like this often encompass their opposite)
has at least a bit of the obverse: "White supremacists are right: all the
non-whites are sub-human."

(John Crowley tangent: which is another thing I have always found shocking
about BEASTS--it is a post-PotA work that plays the race card almost as
strongly as the new PotA does.  And new PotA is cringeworthy in this
regard, although as far as the plot goes it is interesting in how it is
somewhat closer to the original French novel.)

So there you have PotA.

Then there is another novel, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?  This
novel really is the sfnal otherness, where slaves are now androids of
initially ambiguous humanity . . . but in the not-exactly-happy end, the
ambiguity resolves into "they ain't human" and the "civil rights for
androids" card has been used by the androids as a tool to manipulate
mentally defective humans.

The movie "Bladerunner" is quite the opposite of its source text, saying
"No, androids are just as human as humans--and look, I'm eloping with one
right now," and it suddenly seemed to me that it was done this way as a
reaction to/apology for the civil rights insensitivity/naivete of the
original PotA.

And the new PotA (perhaps reacting to "Bladerunner"?) is vile on the race
issue.  (It is also horrible wrt space vehicles/space travel, but that's
another rant.)  A more nuanced approach, after jettisoning all the American
phrases (from "separate but equal" through to Rodney King's famed
soundbite), might have been to examine how the "apes" all manage to live
together when they are not all the same species.  Even hire a zoologist
consultant: are hybrids possible (chimp/gorilla, chimp/orangutang,
gorilla/orangutang) in real life, and are they sterile like mules?  (This
would inject a Vancean element.)  Explore the "otherness" that is already
=there=, for crying out loud!


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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