Director Denis Villeneuve has come under criticism for the representation of female characters in Blade Runner 2049, specifically, the importance placed on female reproduction, the patriarchal dystopia depicted in the film, how the most prominent female characters were highly sexualized and how they died before the movie ended.
Villeneuve has addressed criticism of the film, telling Vanity Fair, “I am very sensitive to how I portray women in movies. This is my tenth feature film and six of them have women in the lead role. The first Blade Runner was quite rough on the women; something about the film noir aesthetic. But I tried to bring depth to all the characters. For Joi, the holographic character, you see how she evolves. It’s interesting, I think.”
Image via Forbes
According to the movie’s IMDB Trivia page, only four human characters appear in the movie: Rick Deckard (if believed to be human, which I do: Ford uses doors while Gosling runs straight through the damn walls), Lieutenant Joshi, Niander Wallace, and Gaff (Edward James Olmos), though this is up for debate, as arguably the most important character in the film, Dr. Ana Stelline, is at best half-human.
“Cinema is a mirror on society. Blade Runner is not about tomorrow; it’s about today. And I’m sorry, but the world is not kind on women,” said Villeneuve, adding, “There’s a sense in American cinema: you want to portray an ideal world. You want to portray a utopia. That’s good — dreams for a better world, to advocate for something better, yes. But if you look at my movies, they are exploring today’s shadows. The first Blade Runner is the biggest dystopian statement of the last half century. I did the follow-up to that, so yes, it’s a dystopian vision of today. Which magnifies all the faults. That’s what I’ll say about that.”
Villeneuve chose not to comment further, but I will.
First of all, a big ol’ L O L at “the importance of female reproduction”. Did critics even watch the movie? The importance of reproduction in the film stems from bridging the gap between human and machine and the child born from the love of Ford’s Deckard and Sean Young’s Rachel.
Second, the patriarchal dystopia depicted in the film can’t be blamed on the director of the sequel, so criticism of the director should really be directed at Philip K. Dick, who wrote the novel, Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, who wrote the original screenplay, and Ridley Scott, who directed the 1982 original.
Image via Engadget
In terms of highly sexualized female characters, critics must be talking about the “threesome” featuring Joi, K, and Mariette. I could understand if it was a gratuitous sex scene, but it really isn’t. Joi hires Mariette because she is physically unable to give herself to the man she loves. She doesn’t possess a physical form of her own, so she rents one. She doesn’t watch from the sidelines, she actively participates. You’d think that people would appreciate a female AI entity who has hopes, dreams, and desires of her own, just like a human woman would, rather than a Sexy Siri, but that’s neither here nor there.
Furthermore, critics have drawn attention to how female characters died before the end of the movie, but did they ignore how the movie literally ends with Gosling’s K bleeding out in the snow? This isn’t a movie with a happy ending, unless of course, you’re Deckard and you’ve just been introduced to your long lost daughter.
I loved Blade Runner 2049, as a standalone film and as a sequel, and the movie’s IMDB rating confirms that I’m not the only one. With over 150,000 ratings, the film is holding strong with an 8.4/10. Definitely go see it, see it again, and maybe another time or two, you’ll be happy you did.
Featured Image Via The Verge.