Let's clear up a few things about 'Blade Runner' and the cyber truck
Please forward this newsletter to Elon Musk
On a recent episode of the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, Tesla founder Elon Musk induced the podcast’s host to fire a compound bow at the CyberTruck, a new Tesla model that the company insists will be delivered to customers who pre-ordered it on November 30. The arrow bounces off the side of the truck, leaving only a small dent. “That’s impressive,” Rogan says. “Yeah,” Musk agrees.
“You built it like this just for fun?” Rogan asks. “Trucks are supposed to be tough,” Musk responds. “Is your truck bulletproof?”
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When the clip was posted to the social-media website X.com, which is also owned by Musk, by an account called “Tesla Owners Silicon Valley,” Musk responded: “It’s an armored personnel carrier from the future – what Bladerunner would have driven.”
This is not the first time that Musk has suggested that the CyberTruck would be favored by a person or thing called “Bladerunner”--in March he said the vehicle was “Designed for Bladerunner.”
I am worried that Elon Musk is operating under several misunderstandings regarding the movie Blade Runner, beginning with the relationship between the movie’s title and the name of its main character. I would therefore like to use my platform to clarify some important points.
(1) The guy’s name is not “Bladerunner”
The name of the main character in Blade Runner1 is Rick Deckard, not “Bladerunner.” Deckard is a former “blade runner”--two words. In the world of the movie, a “blade runner” is a kind of law-enforcement officer whose job is to hunt down and kill escaped “replicants,” bioengineered humanoids created for use as off-Earth workers and soldiers by the Tyrell corporation.
(2) He already has a car
We don’t actually have to speculate on “what Bladerunner [sic] would have driven” because the movie shows us: We see Deckard behind the wheel of a “spinner,” or flying car.2
(3) Even if he wanted a new car, a cybertruck would be a poor fit for his specific needs
Rick Deckard is not a general contractor. He does not own a boat he needs to tow; he doesn’t tailgate Chargers games, or whatever. He kills replicants! He doesn’t need cargo space or towing capabilities. Nor, for that matter, does he need an “armored personnel carrier”--he’s a cop, not a soldier.3 Replicants are not trying to kill Deckard except in self-defense; even then, they don’t have “tommy guns” or compound bows or any of the things that Musk is testing against the cybertruck’s body.
Plus, from what we can see, no one besides rich people and cops really drives at all, so he probably wouldn’t drive any cars except the spinner issued to him by the LAPD.
(4) “Blade runners” are not really admirable figures
Rick Deckard is not a cool guy to emulate; he’s a self-deluded contract killer, a slave catcher looked on with contempt by the people he works for and despised and feared by the people he hunts. The movie is about Deckard himself coming to realize this, among other things.
(5) The future depicted in Blade Runner sucks
You don’t need the truck that “Bladerunner [sic] would have driven” because you don’t live in the world of Blade Runner, which is self-evidently not an aspirational future. Nor, for that matter, do you need an “armored personnel vehicle” of the kind Musk claims the cybertruck is. (Which, again, is not something that Rick Deckard would have driven.) Who cares if your truck is bulletproof!! No one is shooting tommy guns at your weird truck?? Get a life.
Famously, the phrase “Blade Runner” isn’t located anywhere in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Philip K. Dick novel on which the movie is based. It comes instead from a script treatment (written by William S. Burroughs!) for a movie based on a novel called The Bladerunner (one word) about a medical-equipment smuggler. Blade Runner director Ridley Scott liked the title and convinced producer Michael Deeley to buy the rights to it.
I suppose it is possible, though in my opinion unlikely, that Musk is referring not to the incredibly famous cyberpunk movie Blade Runner but to the obscure 1970s novel The Bladerunner, though even in the case the titular “bladerunner” is actually named Billy Gimp, not “bladerunner.”
Notably, we never see Deckard actually pilot a flying spinner: Gaff, played by James Edward Olmos, chauffeurs Deckard through the sky, and according to the Petersen Automotive Museum (??), Deckard’s spinner is decommissioned, which means it can’t fly.
I suppose you could argue that, in terms of demographic stereotypes, a city cop like Rick Deckard probably would drive a stupid, useless pickup truck for no good reason.