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Blade Runner's humanism: Cinema and representation

Abstract

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Many have pointed to Blade Runner's humanization of its 'replicants' as a compelling statement against exploitation and domination. I argue, however, that the film has another kind of agenda: a Rousseauvian concern about the dangers of representation, about confusing the imitation with the real and confusing the consumption of images with political action. Rather than humanizing the other, Blade Runner's central concern is to humanize our own social and political relationships, which are in danger of falling into the same trap Rousseau outlined in his Letter to D'Alembert. To do so, we must learn to appreciate the difference between mutual surveillance and mutual regard. To live freely in any regime, we must understand the dangers of representation, even if, in a large state, we must continue to make use of it.

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