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- abbott & prospero - 12-30-2009

Wait, so is Blade Runner sci-fi or not?


- the alexor - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Now, lets do the same thing to Blade Runner. The story of Blade Runner: A cop who specializes in tracking down and eliminating androids is confronted with questions of how life is defined, what rights should be attributed to intelligence created by mankind, and whether destroying that which you create is immoral.

Take out the androids. Here's the story: A cop kills some criminals.

This is getting ridiculous. By the logic you applied to your Dune example, Blade Runner would also be the same film. A Film Noir detective story, wich Blade Runner is first and foremost.


- ryoken - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Now, lets do the same thing to Blade Runner. The story of Blade Runner: A cop who specializes in tracking down and eliminating androids is confronted with questions of how life is defined, what rights should be attributed to intelligence created by mankind, and whether destroying that which you create is immoral.

Take out the androids. Here's the story: A cop kills some criminals.

More like a sanctioned bounty hunter chases and kills some outlaws.

Also, cant wait for "Hippie midgets try to return found jewelry"


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by The Alexor
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This is getting ridiculous. By the logic you applied to your Dune example, Blade Runner would also be the same film. A Film Noir detective story, wich Blade Runner is first and foremost.

I disagree so completely with this. Blade Runner uses noir sensibilities to tell a very unique (for its time) story about the implications arising from the creation of artificial intelligences. It is as science fiction as they come. Dick's original novella even more so.


- abbott & prospero - 12-30-2009

But take out the androids...


- the alexor - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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I disagree so completely with this. Blade Runner uses noir sensibilities to tell a very unique (for its time) story about the implications arising from the creation of artificial intelligences. It is as science fiction as they come. Dick's original novella even more so.

Well, like Abbot & Prospero above just said, we could do like you did with Dune and take every element that doesn't fit with your theory and remove the androids.

Or I could change the androids to simple bastard children of Tyrell in search of their identity. Same basic Film Noir detective story.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

The androids are Russian political dissidents. Ford is a KGB officer who is hunting them down and beginning to wonder if his life isn't a lie.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by The Alexor
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Well, like Abbot & Prospero above just said, we could do like you did with Dune and take every element that doesn't fit with your theory and remove the androids.

Or I could change the androids to simple bastard children of Tyrell in search of their identity. Same basic Film Noir detective story.

Yeah, making them simply bastard humans makes the climax between Batty and Deckard exactly the same.

The focus of the story of Blade Runner isn't Deckard getting his man.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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The androids are Russian political dissidents. Ford is a KGB officer who is hunting them down and beginning to wonder if his life isn't a lie.

Changes the entire point of the story. The power of Batty's dying words comes from the fact that he is making the case for his soul. That's the point.


- abbott & prospero - 12-30-2009

Again, your criteria for what is and isn't a sci-fi film seems kind of maddening.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Changes the entire point of the story. The power of Batty's dying words comes from the fact that he is making the case for his soul. That's the point.

Why does one have to be an android to make that case? Any oppressed group could make that case. Jews in WWII, blacks in US slavery, etc etc etc


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

A couple interesting definitions swiped from Wikipedia:

Robert A. Heinlein: "A handy short definition of almost all science fiction might read: realistic speculation about possible future events, based solidly on adequate knowledge of the real world, past and present, and on a thorough understanding of the nature and significance of the scientific method."

Rod Serling: "Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible."

Isaac Asimov: "'Hard science fiction' [is] stories that feature authentic scientific knowledge and depend upon it for plot development and plot resolution."

Theodore Sturgeon: "[A] good science-fiction story is a story about human beings, with a human problem, and a human solution, that would not have happened at all without its science content."


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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Why does one have to be an android to make that case? Any oppressed group could make that case. Jews in WWII, blacks in US slavery, etc etc etc

Jews and black people aren't artificially created by human beings. There are a whole host of moral, ethical, and spiritual issues that arise from that distinction. People smarter than any of us are still trying to grapple with the possible moral implications of artificial intelligence.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Jews and black people aren't artificially created by human beings. There are a whole host of moral, ethical, and spiritual issues that arise from that distinction. People smarter than any of us are still trying to grapple with the moral implications of artificial intelligence.

Except those people were not considered equal to humans at the time of their oppression. There were moral, ethical and spiritual issues that arose from that distinction at the time.


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

Debating the definition of sci-fi is fun and interesting, so by all means carry on. But to the point at hand, what precludes the Avatar from being genuine science-fiction is the fact that the film itself is not at all interested in the science elements of the story, fictional or otherwise.

Whether Cameron is interested is another question, but if you judge the work on its own merits instead of what people are saying about it, you'll find it has nothing to say about the technology. It's simply a device to put pretty new CGI on a dusty old story.

Thus, my contention that it's silly and pointless to critique it as if it were something it's not. If I started judging a hamburger-shaped piece of candy as if it were a hamburger, everyone would think I was crazy.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain Mal
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Debating the definition of sci-fi is fun and interesting, so by all means carry on. But to the point at hand, what precludes the Avatar from being genuine science-fiction is the fact that the film itself is not at all interested in the science elements of the story, fictional or otherwise.

Whether Cameron is interested is another question, but if you judge the work on its own merits instead of what people are saying about it, you'll find it has nothing to say about the technology. It's simply a device to put pretty new CGI on a dusty old story.

Thus, my contention that it's silly and pointless to critique it as if it were something it's not. If I started judging a hamburger-shaped piece of candy as if it were a hamburger, everyone would think I was crazy.

Why are half your posts telling people to stop thinking about things?


- Bucho - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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Just accept that some people don't have the need to do that with this particular movie or answer questions about why this works like that or how come something evolves in a certain way.

Nordling said it best, that it's easy to nitpick Avatar it just doesn't seem constructive in any way as the overall enjoyment is what matters with this particular movie.

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Originally Posted by Captain Mal
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Just to be clear, I don't believe it's pointless to be interested in that stuff — indeed, I have a wondering admiration for anyone who can sustain that level of interest in the mechanics of a fictitious world. I just think in a film like this, it's a fool's errand. I'd feel the same about an attempt to justify the "science" of the Star Wars universe. No point. That ain't what it's about.

In the particular case of Devin's question, he's already made it plain that he doesn't like the designs, and thinks the themes, characters, and subtext of the movie are "bad," "perfunctory," etc. Given his clamorous disdain for the world in question, his query doesn't strike me as genuine interest, but simple baiting. *shrug* Maybe I'm wrong.

I also grow a little weary of the implied accusation that those of us who aren't approaching the film from a scientific angle aren't approaching it from an intellectual angle, and thereby have nothing to add to the discussion. Epistemology is perhaps the most fundamental element of criticism, and it's worth debating, IMHO.

I don't think you guys, or myself, are wrong or less intellectual just because we had a good time with this film. And I'm not going to second guess Devin's motivation, be it the simple desire to delve into the art of the film or just run-of-the-mill baiting, but as he said - if you don't want to engage with him on this then just ignore him. Don't be the fish who gets hooked up on the bait even though he recognized it before he bit.

But a lot of what you might call nit-picking isn't just people trying consciously to fight their true enjoyment of the movie in some attempt to seem cool and aloof about this Big Deal Movie. I mean, nits get picked because they fucking itch. As I'm watching any film I'm not sitting there consciosuly scanning for flaws. The flaws are felt first of all and then that feeling is thought about to try to pinpoint what is it about the way the artist has communicated their art that left me underwhelmed or disconnected from the emotion of it.

In Avatar, even though I liked it overall, I had to wonder why I only was emotionally affected by one character - and even her I wasn't engaged with consistently - while other films of Avatar's ilk have managed to feature several fully-realized characters. An unoriginal story in and of itself isn't a problem for me, but that story can't help but come with an inherent and instictive comparison to the films of the same tropes that have come before. I can't simply erase my experiences with films that invlove an outsider coming into a foreign culture for example, and I don't want to anyway because my understanding of this art is built partly from those experiences. And James Cameron doesn't want us to either, in fact it seems to me with Avatar as if he depends on us bringing our own familiarity with those tropes so that we might project that onto his film.

The point is, if the world feels wrong to some people, be it the characters, the settings or the plot or any number of other elements, and those people into the art of film-making, then they're going to try to work out why it makes them feel or not feel like it does. It's no "fool's erand" because the fool is the one who feels irritation of the nits' bite but refuses to pick them. And if the nits are biting but you either don't feel them or don't mind them, then that doesn't make you a fool either. What would make you a fool is being bothered that someone else is picking their own nits. Unless they're throwing the still-living nits at you, in which case feel free to be bothered.

What were we talking about again?


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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Except those people were not considered equal to humans at the time of their oppression. There were moral, ethical and spiritual issues that arose from that distinction at the time.

There are some parallels, I grant you. But what about our responsibility to things we have created? Does Batty's experiences make him a "person", or can this copy be killed with no remorse - because we can always make an exact duplicate any time we want? Would it have been better for humanity if we had never created these replicants, or would that have been denying their basic right to exist? These are questions that simply don't apply to persecuted humans.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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There are some parallels, I grant you. But what about our responsibility to things we have created? Does Batty's experiences make him a "person", or can this copy be killed with no remorse - because we can always make an exact duplicate any time we want? Would it have been better for humanity if we had never created these replicants, or would that have been denying their basic right to exist? These are questions that simply don't apply to persecuted humans.

Questions never raised in the movie. There are no Batty duplicates in the film. Killing him is just like killing a slave - you are losing a unique set of experiences and skills. While the slave can be replaced by a newborn, the specific skills and experiences of the slave cannot be replaced.


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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Why are half your posts telling people to stop thinking about things?

Why do none of your posts ever address the issues I've raised?

I don't know how closely you've been following along (not very, evidently), but nowhere have I advised anyone to stop thinking about the flick. My contention is specifically with your epistemology. I take no issue with the fact that you are thinking about the film, but rather how you're thinking about it. If you misunderstand what the film is, your criticisms are bound to be, at best, beside the point.


- Bucho - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by Captain Mal
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If I started judging a hamburger-shaped piece of candy as if it were a hamburger, everyone would think I was crazy.

The food analogies are fun but that's pushing it. A closer one would be that if blockbuster films are hamburgers then there are hamburgers of differing quality. Some people are totally satisfied by burgers in which the ingredients aren't well thought out, others have tasted [insert your local gourmet burger joint here] and it makes those other burgers comparitively not taste as good as it used to anymore.

Point is, just because it's a blockbuster doesn't mean every ingredient can't be treated with the same care and attention. I liked this burger just fine, but I know I've had better - and from the same cook no less. Does it make a difference if the cook claimed ahead of time that you would be tasting a burger like you've never tasted before? Maybe, but just because the burger has some kind of fancy new bun doesn't mean the filling gets an automatic pass, it still has to be done right or some people are going to leave underwhelmed by the All-new Supertaste Sensation, or as we call it in the restaurant business - ASS.

Wait ... what were we talking about again?


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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Questions never raised in the movie. There are no Batty duplicates in the film. Killing him is just like killing a slave - you are losing a unique set of experiences and skills. While the slave can be replaced by a newborn, the specific skills and experiences of the slave cannot be replaced.

No, but the Nexus model is discussed - it invites the imagery of a mass-production facility somewhere pumping out Batty models. Batty having a conversation with the man who designed his eyeballs seems a bit out of the scope of a simple slavery allegory. Batty confronting his creator, Tyrell, and asking for more life - that's a bit out of the scope as well.


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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And I'm not going to second guess Devin's motivation, be it the simple desire to delve into the art of the film or just run-of-the-mill baiting, but as he said - if you don't want to engage with him on this then just ignore him.

Eh, I'd quite like to engage with him on this — that's why I'm here. He, on the other hand, apparently has no interest in engaging a different approach to criticism with anything beyond condescending one-liners. His prerogative, of course, but it strikes me as "if you don't want to agree with him on this then just ignore him."

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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But a lot of what you might call nit-picking isn't just people trying consciously to fight their true enjoyment of the movie in some attempt to seem cool and aloof

Just to be clear, I don't believe anyone's trying to do that, and am fairly certain I've never implied otherwise.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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In Avatar, even though I liked it overall, I had to wonder why I only was emotionally affected by one character - and even her I wasn't engaged with consistently

I agree with this, and I feel like it's the film's biggest failing. FWIW, I don't believe the answer has anything to do with how many arms that character has.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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What would make you a fool is being bothered that someone else is picking their own nits. Unless they're throwing the still-living nits at you, in which case feel free to be bothered.

I'm not at all bothered that anyone's picking their own nits. That's what the internet was invented for, right? But if you're gonna pick your nits in a discussion forum, get ready for some asshole like me to come along and explain that you're doing it wrong.

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Originally Posted by Bucho
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What were we talking about again?

I forgot. Something about Adam Sandler.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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No, but the Nexus model is discussed - it invites the imagery of a mass-production facility somewhere pumping out Batty models. Batty having a conversation with the man who designed his eyeballs seems a bit out of the scope of a simple slavery allegory.

"Invites the imagery" is simply beyond the point. It's not in the movie.

And Tyrell is the embodiment of Father as God, which is not a science fiction concept at all. It's no coincidence that we say "God Our Father." Tyrell is simply a literalization of this concept, which could also be done in fantasy. But you could have it in simply straight drama, albeit more allegorically.

Your argument here is that scifi allows you to take subtle allegory and make it thuddingly literal. Which means you think AVATAR is scifi after all!


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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Your argument here is that scifi allows you to take subtle allegory and make it thuddingly literal. Which means you think AVATAR is scifi after all!

lol


- captain mal - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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The food analogies are fun but that's pushing it. A closer one would be that if blockbuster films are hamburgers then there are hamburgers of differing quality.

Disagree. Titanic and The Hangover and The Matrix are not simply the same sort of thing with differing quality. They're each trying accomplish something completely different (artistically, anyway — I guess you could argue that they're all trying to make money).

Hell, my biggest gripe with Avatar isn't that it's an average tasting hamburger, but that it's a hamburger at all. As much as I dug the movie, I'd much rather see that technology in the service of a more innovative story.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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"Invites the imagery" is simply beyond the point. It's not in the movie.

Fair enough.

Quote:

And Tyrell is the embodiment of Father as God, which is not a science fiction concept at all. It's no coincidence that we say "God Our Father." Tyrell is simply a literalization of this concept, which could also be done in fantasy. But you could have it in simply straight drama, albeit more allegorically.

He's not a supernatural creature who can grant wishes. He can't extend Batty's life. He's a man who's created something out of his control. Is he playing God? Does that allow him to decide the fates of these creations?Again, can't ask these questions in a fantasy or drama.

And because the questions that may arise from this situation may be similar to those that arise from our past does not negate their importance, or their connection to the science. When and if we finally create artificial intelligence, I imagine mankind will grapple with the same questions we did in regard to slavery and bigotry.

Quote:

Your argument here is that scifi allows you to take subtle allegory and make it thuddingly literal. Which means you think AVATAR is scifi after all!

Hah!


- devincf - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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He's not a supernatural creature who can grant wishes. He can't extend Batty's life. He's a man who's created something out of his control. Is he playing God? Does that allow him to decide the fates of these creations?Again, can't ask these questions in a fantasy or drama.

Fantasy includes the golem.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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Fantasy includes the golem.

From my understanding the golem generally refers to a pile of mud incarnated by God to defend a population. It is not considered a person or a living being. It does not express emotion or thought. I understand what you're saying, but I think it's a bit of a stretch to apply it here.

Would you classify Frankenstein as a fantasy story?


- devincf - 12-30-2009

A golem is traditionally made by a rabbi. And since it's fantasy, the writer can have the golem contain whatever qualities the writer pleases, including intelligence.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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A golem is traditionally made by a rabbi. And since it's fantasy, the writer can have the golem contain whatever qualities the writer pleases, including intelligence.

Ah. And the golem runs amok and questions its right to existence? Relying on the supernatural to do the dirty work of actually animating the golem kinda defeats the purpose. You can shrug off responsibility pretty easily. "All I did was say the magic words. God did the rest!"

The replicants in Dick's story are entirely the product of mankind. It makes a big difference to me.


- devincf - 12-30-2009

That's silly. "All I did was put the parts together! Science did the rest!"

Magic in fantasy is the same as science in science fiction. It's the bullshit that jumpstarts the story. It's the thing that is used well or poorly. The rabbi CHOOSES to make the golem, the ancient magics just bring it to life, much as Tyrell CHOOSES to make replicants and the newfangled tech brings it to life.

You're being obtuse, honestly. You can have a story about the relationship between creator and creation in scifi, fantasy or drama. Or comedy. Or any genre. Any issues that we think about and grapple with today can be addressed in any genre. To say that certain issues can only be talked about in certain genres is silly - unless, again, you're saying that they must be talked about EXPLICITLY and LITERALLY, which is boring.


- matches_malone - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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That's silly. "All I did was put the parts together! Science did the rest!"

Magic in fantasy is the same as science in science fiction. It's the bullshit that jumpstarts the story. It's the thing that is used well or poorly. The rabbi CHOOSES to make the golem, the ancient magics just bring it to life, much as Tyrell CHOOSES to make replicants and the newfangled tech brings it to life.

You're being obtuse, honestly. You can have a story about the relationship between creator and creation in scifi, fantasy or drama. Or comedy. Or any genre. Any issues that we think about and grapple with today can be addressed in any genre. To say that certain issues can only be talked about in certain genres is silly - unless, again, you're saying that they must be talked about EXPLICITLY and LITERALLY, which is boring.

Fair enough. Take the lens far enough back and the themes of all stories are universal. So why make any classifications at all? It's all just fiction. To me, the classification of science fiction is how the science relates to us. Blade Runner does that, in my estimation. It's not that the themes it explores haven't been explored before in other ways - it's that Dick explored the specific implications of artificial life. It's a real concern, one that philosophers grapple with.

Science fiction is more than just going to an alien world to fight human analogues. It's more than having a spaceship shoot lasers. It's more than the setting.

What makes Avatar science fiction to you?


- Teitr Styrr - 12-30-2009

I thought Avatar was a science fiction versus fantasy story myself.


- yt - 12-31-2009

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Originally Posted by Nick Nunziata
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Nick, I loved every minute of Avatar. Your review is spot on. Cameron brought out the big guns and not a minute too soon!