(Note: This isn’t a summary of Blade Runner 2049. Rather this is a brief reflection on the philosophy communicated by the writers. Also, SPOILER ALERT!)
The film is based in a postmodern, post-truth, post-reality society enshrined in the throes of protective liberty. Strangely, in an attempt to colonize other planets and ensure the survival of earth, Tyrell Corporation develops replicants (i.e. androids) for slave labor.
Fast forward twenty years and Wallace Corporation, after saving the earth from starvation via synthetic harvesting, replaces Tyrell Corporation as the primary manufacturer of replicants. Now, with replicants’ stark resemblence of humans, it is difficult to ascertain whether one is merely an android or flesh and blood. This confusion muddles the genetic code, as we find in the newly release neo-noir science fiction film.
K, an LAPD detective played by Ryan Gosling, is struggling to find his identity. He avoids human contact to preserve his integrity and unemotional/professional composure to “retire” androids. However, since the society is hyper-sexualized (i.e. prolific nudity), his fantasizations of consummating a relationship with his artificially intelligent, personal hologram Joi come to fruition. Even as an android, he experiences loneliness. He succumbs to societal demands to indulge in the maximum happiness/pleasure, despite her intangibility. Using a prostitute to synchronize Joi’s lifelike holographic features, K indulges in his imaginations, using a real woman as a conduit to gratify his computerized libido. However, as we see, this facade of liberty actually causes humans and androids alike to become subservient to the demands of the inner appetite, thus solidying Wallace’s grip on the demand of the people.
Moreover, by devaluing the currency of truth, this allows for a myriad of moral improprieties. This relativism, in the name of liberty, is actually an act of self-bondage to the appetites and those who utilize these appetites for monetary gain (e.g. Wallace Corporation). By diverting moral culpability, this outlet (i.e. this paradoxically slavish liberty) inhibits development of conscience, thus blurring the moral compass and perverting one’s desires. Therefore, self-restraint is integral for the prolongation, sustainment of a free society. In the film, this culminates into the obscurity of—and even the apathy toward—reality. Pleasure is all that matters. And in the end, everyone suffers.