Wildfire smoke yesterday turned the City by the Bay a rusty orange color, not unlike the visuals in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Naturally, someone took that as a cue to mate up drone footage of the dystopian scene with music from Blade Runner: 2049 to create Blade Runner: San Francisco. Watch the video below.
Scifi fans everywhere can rejoice and weep. The dystopian future they always imagined has now arrived in Blade Runner: San Francisco.
As much as I appreciate a video like this, I have to admit: I don’t write dystopian scifi for a reason. Not only is it self-indulgent, it’s disingenuous to those who are living an apocalyptic nightmare every day of their lives. Yet, the fascination with d/scifi for a couple of basic reasons.
- People are drawn to metaphysical competence
- People love the idea of escape.
Here’s what I mean by that – I’ll explain the second reason first. The vast majority of dystopian or post-apoc scifi stories are escapist in nature. In fact, I can break down pretty much every dystopian / post-apoc story ever written in two paragraphs, watch:
The undercurrent of any post-apocalyptic or dystopian movie is the lone hero. We love him because he’s living out the joy of being unshackled. No job, no boss, no taxes, no drama. He’s staying alive one nitro-fueled car chase at a time. Out of that reality, he’s unshackled from the tiresome social mores we’re obligated to maintain. He needs no one, and no one needs him.
Then in Act Two, something sucks him in and makes him care again: a beautiful girl, a child needing rescue, a powerful moral purpose. By Act Three, he’s connected his powerful Alpha Male characteristics with the righteous moral purpose. By the end of the story, society understands his/their value again. Everyone realizes that for the hero to function, society must connect with them on their own level. Walk off into the sunset, fade to black.
We love the idea of escaping all our messy, cluttered lives. We love the idea of society being forced to accept us on our terms. Dystopian scifi gives us that fantasy by the pound and we eat it up.
The first reason, metaphysical competence, also explains why we love heroes like James Bond, or Clint Eastwood. We’re drawn anti-heroes on a conceptual level. We admire their ‘metaphysical competence,’ their ability to live successfully. If you’re familiar with male psychology, you’ve heard of the ‘lone wolf mentality.’ The lone wolf life is chiefly interested in it’s own needs, other people are often seen as an obstacle or threat. Connect the idea of metaphysical competence with the idea of shaking off everything else, and you’ve got a story everyone can love.
I have some very specific reasons why – although people love that kind of sci-fi – I don’t write it. I’ll get into those reasons in a future blog post.