If the machines are rising up against us, anime short Black Out 2022 suggests we (as usual) probably deserve it. The film, from Cowboy Bebop’s Shinichiro Watanabe, reveals that the current growth in sexbots we are seeing in 2017 has led to a future in which sentient replicant prostitutes have become the norm. We’ve already seen something similar happening in HBO’s Westworld and AMC/Channel 4’s Humans, of course.
As a fan of the 2004 Battlestar Galactica remake, it’s interesting to hear the term “skinjob” being used here as a derogatory term for the replicants. Far from nicking it, screenwriter Hampton Fancher came up with the term for the 1982 original.
The first of these short films is set in 2036 and focuses on Jared Leto’s creepy character named Niander Wallace. Apparently, he’s done something to help stave off famine on Earth, and so despite being pretty scary, he’s placated by some kind of government officials. At this point in this future history, there’s a full-on prohibition of Replicants. It stands to reason this is because of all the crazy shit that went down in the first movie. But Wallace is looking to change that and bring Replicant technology back in a big way. Part of his justification for this is to increase productivity on the “Off-World Colonies.”
Dave Bautista’s Sapper Morton appears in Luke Scott’s second short, 2048: Nowhere to Run, as well as Blade Runner 2049 itself. And there’s a clear difference between the one-time wrestler’s performance and those of the actors playing replicants in the first movie, who often seemed deliberately supercharged with artificiality. Whereas Daryl Hannah’s Pris or Brion James’s Leon might easily have been identified as replicants without the need for the famous Voight-Kampf test, Morton appears able to pass easily for human. In fact, he shows a deep need to engage with his fellow sentient beings. The only sign that we are looking at a machine comes in the android’s brutal takedown of a gang of baddies.
Three short films were commissioned to serve as prequels to the new feature film “Blade Runner 2049