Blade Runner: 2049 (2017) scores very poorly for women's presence and voice. It is full of violence against women, as well as objectification, sexualization and silencing of women. It is not a hopeful movie for women like Hidden Figures (2016), a movie in which women have a real voice, like Suffragette (2015) and Wonder Woman (2017), or full of solidarity between women, like The Help (2011). Indeed, Blade Runner: 2049 excels at silencing women. For starters, the protagonist’s girlfriend is not a real woman but rather a virtual woman who only says “everything you [men] want to hear,” according to the ads for these artificial intelligence products. These virtual women are named Joi (sic) and only speak flattering, loving, reassuring words to their male owners. Unlike real women they are incapable of voicing dissatisfaction, frustration, anger or expectations. Women are also silenced permanently: the three lead female characters are murdered and a fourth woman, whose appearance lasts mere minutes, is also murdered by the god-like man who created her.
The violence perpetrated against women in Blade Runner: 2049 is graphic. A man chokes a woman to death while holding her under water to drown her. This scene is long and includes several close-ups of her face. A woman stabs another to death and stamps out a third woman’s life, both before our eyes. A man cuts a woman open to kill her and shoots another in the head at close range for being unacceptable to him. Men’s deaths, on the other hand, are much less brutal. One is shot off-screen and another dies a peaceful death, lying on snow-covered steps, under the prettily falling snow.
Women are also highly sexualized: viewers are shown several giant naked holograms and statues of women; and of the women with lines three are prostitutes, one is a virtual girlfriend called Joi and another is a synthetic woman called Luv.
The filmmakers behind Blade Runner: 2049 seem to like their women naked and subservient. They also appear to enjoy watching women being murdered. Few recent movies are this insulting to women. Female viewers may feel the need, after watching it, to wash out their eyes and brain with an empowering movie, like Wonder Woman (2017) or 9 to 5 (1980).
© 2017 Alline Cormier
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