Underlinings (#50)

On the evanescence of Cyberpunk prophecy:

One notable departure from previous blockbuster dystopias like Logan’s Run (1976) was the fact that this [Blade Runner] future had a very visible past and had not been built from scratch. Existing buildings of Los Angeles were incorporated; the police headquarters is Union Station, the eerie stairwell courtyard is inside the Bradbury Building, Deckard’s apartment is in Frank Lloyd Wright’s neo-Mayan Ennis Brown House. It was all contained in a city that Ridley Scott revealed was indebted to contemporary Hong Kong. The colossal, recurring geisha girl on the electronic billboard is significant not for what she is advertising (the pill, as it happens) or even the echo of the decadent “Floating World” of Tokyo legend but for the implication that the future is both otherworldly and compromised. We can speculate on whether an orientalized U.S. West Coast represents the subconscious fear of the end of American exceptionalism, latent memories of having once been a colony, or fears that the Greater Japanese Empire was not entirely buried in 1945. In fact, the dread of being usurped by the Eastern nations was well-placed — a prescient indication that the world’s axis was shifting from mid-Atlantic to mid-Pacific. Asia was the future, and this is what it would look like. For a while, perhaps even still, it held true. The question is: which Asia? South Korean Smart City futurism? Colossal Chinese ghost cities? Drowning the sorrows of a 20-year deflationary recession in Tokyo’s Shinjuku? …

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