My Co-workers response and cultural panorama to the unique Blade Runner’s cyb…

My Co-workers response and cultural panorama to the unique Blade Runner's cyb... 4

One of my older coworkers and I have been speaking concerning the unique Blade Runner he defined his response and the cultural second was a lot completely different then than it was now. I assumed he was speaking about the way it wasn’t the unique minimize and that it was the dumb narrated model with the completely happy ending as an alternative of the unicorn/ Deckard could be a robotic ending. He defined that many within the viewers was really horrified and surprised by the pictures…. of Harrison Ford consuming with chopsticks, that an american billboard would function a Japanese lady, and town itself appeared like Tokyo with neon lights overlaying town. I used to be dumbfounded and I requested what’s fallacious with cool cyber punk imagery and Japanese affect?

He then defined again then there was lots of nervousness of Japan being a significant financial powerhouse with the rise of imported Japanese vehicles, electronics, and different exports that had American trembling at Japan’s standing because the main financial system whereas america suffered a recession within the 80s with a big commerce deficit with Japan rising like there was with China not too long ago. The concept of Blade Runner was really extra scary to american audiences, not due to it is material of Artificial intelligence, however the concept of america taken over by Japanese tradition like colonizing and eradicated traces of yank beliefs. The american best was the stereotypical residence of the suburban home with a white picket fence, inexperienced grass, and sunny climate occupied by the usual white households would get replaced with oppressive darkness from the cities and that english could be a second language. Harrison Ford consuming with chopsticks appeared oppressive to many because it was such a international idea of a white man consuming just like the Japanese as an alternative of the anticipated fork and knife, the usual of magnificence in america would transition from a white blonde to a Japanese mannequin was uncomfortable to many ladies on the time, and with none photographs of the american dream gone and left with a Japanese influenced metropolis was an actual Dystopian concept to some Americans.

He added which you could hint this Japanese nervousness again to William Gibson’s Neuromancer with lots of japanese company names and lots of 80s films function fictional japanese firms. Examples embody Die Hard, Back to the Future 2 with Mcfly employed beneath a japanese firm, the Punisher with him combating the yakuza, and extra. The japanaphobia was an actual tide in american tradition that even the Vincent Chin homicide case embodied that anger and worry of shedding their jobs to Japanese competitors.

Pretty fascinating listening to from older transfer goers and the cultural panorama on the time.

TLDR; Some people thought Blade Runner was extra scary wanting than cool as a result of Japanese financial nervousness. Young people simply see it as cool.

Edit: Looks like my coworker discovered a tweet and handed it off as his personal expertise. A greater rationalization. [](




  1. I’m one of these “older” people I guess-LOL! . I had no anxiety about the Japanese infiltration into the culture. My horror and worry was the depiction of the climate changes that we were already being told were coming, of non-stop rain, all-day darkness at street level, the over-population, no real animals anymore, etc. It was visionary! Couldn’t you feel the humidity and smell that city when you came out of the theater?

  2. This was in a lot of movies at the time. Its what the exchange in Back to the Future where 1955 Doc says “well no wonder it burnt out, see ‘Made in Japan'” and Marty says “Yeah Doc, all the best stuff is made in Japan” which shocks 1955 Doc.

    There was a whole comedy movie made about this Gung Ho staring Michael Keaton about an American auto plant being bought by a Japanese company.

    All the cyberpunk of the era were reflecting this, same for Michael Crichtons novel Rising Sun.

  3. Given the current political situation, I think it’s worth mentioning that the patron saint of free market capitalism Ronald Reagan slapped a 100 percent tarrif on Japanese produced computers and televisions to counter some of the concerns you mentioned.

  4. Is your co-worker Cybersloth on Twitter by any chance?

  5. Thanks for sharing. Honestly mostly what I’ve heard before but it’s still nice to hear. My love for Blade Runner was reinvigorated and solidified after 2049 came out. People do not give Ridley the respect he deserves . He has the biggest influence on modern sci-fi.

  6. I can see how this aspect of the film might be somewhat lost on a generation that thinks nothing of driving home from the Sushi Bar in their Toyota Corolla to binge anime on the internet.

    It’s not really about Japan, per se, though at the time Japan was the number one Boogeyman for the xenophobe set. The cultural cross-pollination depicted in the film represents modern fears about the loss of individual identity in a globalized, technological world. Take Gaff’s dialect when he first accosts Deckard – it is a composite of a number of different languages, based primarily upon Hungarian, supposed to be a kind of street dialect commonly understood by the diverse denizens of the city.

    None of this is to say that the ‘American Dream’ is dead, in the film’s world it has simply moved off-planet to the colonies. Indeed, it should be read as deeply critical of the American Dream, as the colonies are unjustly exclusive (Sebastian is not allowed into the colonies because of his degenerative condition, despite his obvious talent and value as an individual), and reliant on slave labour and oppression for their existence (via replicants, who are exterminated arbitrarily lest they decide that they too might be worthy of living a decent, free existence). On top of this, you have the character of Rachael, whose identity is an artificial, implanted construct created to keep her compliant, and keep her from realizing her true potential. This is mirrored by Deckard, a human (ostensibly), conditioned to behave like a replicant, and Roy Batty, the nihilistic avatar of vengeance who finds salvation in empathy.

    So in this reading, the film indeed deconstructs the ‘American Dream’, but not to be ‘scary’, or ‘cool’. It’s in fact critiquing and challenging cultural concepts of individual and collective identity in the postmodern era. Akira does much the same thing, but in reverse, using American culture (youth counter-culture, civil unrest, and democratic dysfunction, etc).

  7. Just a note. Despite any recessions, Japan was never the leading economy as you stated. It reached second place in 1968, and held that spot until it was overtaken by China in 2010. Can’t find the stats, but I know it was never even close. I’d guess at peak Japan’s economy was at absolute most 20% the size of the US economy.

    People were freaked out about how rapidly it was growing and how many Japanese products they started seeing in electronic stores and car dealerships.

  8. What’s also interesting is that a lot of the steam in the Japanese economy in the 1980’s was built on a shaky foundation, which all came crashing down in 1992, leading to the Lost Decade(s):

  9. I don’t know if it was scary but it was predicting a future where what seemed like Japanese cultural/economic dominance was taken to an extreme.

  10. Its worth mentioning the impact the internet has had on our culture and the worlds. We are not so separated anymore and every perspective or glimpse into another world/culture is just a mouse click away. To this younger generation the world is a much smaller place and far off places don’t seem so far or scary.

  11. Oh yeah – fear of Japan taking over major industries was massive in the 80s and many, many movies reflect this. Even when it’s not in the foreground (somebody mentioned “Gung Ho” below, it’s in the background. Blade Runner, even Die Hard (“Nakatomi Corp/Tower”), Black Rain with Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, Rising Sun with Sean Connery. And the company the interstellar mining crew works for in “Alien” is the “Weyland-Yutani” corporation. This was a major thing in movies and TV. It was kind of amazing growing up in the 70s and 80s. Everything in the 70s was Philco TV sets and Ford/Oldsmobile/Chevy cars, then by the 70s, Japanese stuff was *everywhere* – but it was also clearly way, way better stuff. You couldn’t deny they made better things than American companies did. I lived near a Chevy plant in the 80s and that place…did not do well. There’s a reason this movie trope was a big deal back then. Easy to forget since Japan’s economy started to tank in the early 90s and they had their “lost decade” of stagnation, but Americans weren’t even so much fearful of them in the 80s as resigned that we couldn’t compete with them industrially. At least that’s how I recollect it…

  12. I dont know how true this is, I learned it back when I was in college which was a while ago so I could be misremembering it and I have found that some things I have learned tuned out not true. But, I want to say in the 50s or 60s an American business manager that focused on efficiency and stuff like when a mistake happens it is more important to focus on fixing it and creating systems to eliminate it from happening again instead of punishing the person who made the mistake was kind of shunned in America, but went on to set the foundation for Japanese manufacturing and production. They just took his ways to heart and become a manufacturing powerhouse out of seemingly no where. I’m sure there was a lot more to it than that, but supposedly the Japanese still hold him and his methods in very high regard as they were looking to copy America and the west to reproduce our success, but ironically the dude was shunned (probably an exaggeration) from America and the west and they were not at all copying our ways but a much better system that served them well.

  13. Rising Sun by Michael Crichton also goes into this pretty heavily in his book, but I’m not sure it goes into much in the movie with Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. In the book there was a real fear they were about to completely take over Los Angeles.

  14. Watch *Rising Sun* for the peak of American Japan phobia.



  15. The way you tell he is lying because almost nobody saw Blade Runner when it was originally release. I saw it in an almost empty theater.

  16. You mentioned it could be “traced back” to Neuromancer, but Blade Runner actually came before Neuromancer. The story goes, William Gibson cried in the theater watching Blade Runner because it featured so much of the imagery he had in mind for the book, which he had already written. The only reason Blade Runner was first out of the gate was because the publishing process takes a long time and the book simply hadn’t been on shelves yet. Nevertheless, Neuromancer is considered the birth of cyberpunk, and Blade Runner categorized as “proto-cyberpunk” along with the works of Philip K. Dick.

    The movie played on that economic fear really well. From the moment you first see Deckard he is awash in Asian writing, signs, food, people… the idea is that a white man would feel overwhelmed by the effects of globalization. If you list off the white people in that movie, they are all in really bad shape. Washed up, sleazy, dying, artificial, or wasting away in a penthouse with little to do as his corporation loses prominence. The traditional model American is essentially an alien in Los Angeles. For a more optimistic perspective, it’s sometimes said that Deckard becomes gradually acclimated to his environment beyond the origin point of hopelessness. Like arriving for the first time in a new city and then knowing the streets subconsciously a month later, the cyberpunk heroes often carve out their own adaptive role. This is also why tunnels are so prominently featured in the genre. Be it a car or a Nebuchadnezzar, the brighter destination represents that journey through darkness to a point of light. These stories rarely support that silver lining though, as their characters continue to thrive only in marginalization.

    If you want a neat twist on the economic elements at play, see Ghost in the Shell (the 1995 film). In GITS, all of the people in government and law enforcement have Japanese names, but the characters on the street signs are Chinese. Although some would argue the location isn’t meant to be specific, the model for it was Hong Kong, according to the director. In the mid 90s, Japan was in recession, no longer feared by the West, and Japan’s great economic threat came from China.

    Therefore, it (arguably) depicts a China where Japan has rebounded to the point where in control of Chinese positions of government, the police force, and with the introduction of spider tanks despite tanks not being allowed in Japan since WWII, military dominance which overcame Article 9 of the post-war constitutional concession.

    Where do white people fit into this? Well, you’ll notice that green light is prominent in GITS, but when the film’s only American man sits in the back of a limo traveling through a tunnel, that light is orange. This is almost certainly symbolic of computer text. When America was the world’s first computer pioneer, the text on screen was orange. When Japan overtook the technology realm for a time, the text became green (the same scanline green you see at the beginning of Blade Runner forming its logo).

    The comparisons go on and on, but the most interesting in my opinion is how each culture responds to economic threat. The Western cyberpunk tradition, often modeled after Blade Runner, depicts how bad things might get as a warning to people that the future is approaching fast and understanding and preparation is needed. The Japanese approach, often modeled on GITS, depicts a near future where Japan has overcome economic adversity and stands at the top of the world (albeit a very complicated and dangerous world). It’s Japanese nationalist assurance and confidence in place of American conservative doom and gloom.

  17. 98% of college educated adult people with average iqs in the us did not have that fear. Even then, people knew it was not probable, nor will it ever be.

  18. Just out of curiosity, how old are you? I always thought this was well known…in the 80s, everyone was worried that the future would be a merger of Japan and the US…with Japan rising and buying/partnering major US companies, and becoming the new world leader. Their reputation for efficiency, economic rise and hard work was really concerning then. Couple that with a lot of first gen asian kids finally hitting school and crushing it due to work ethic, and it was a real social event. Asia/Japan was the new undercurrent in movies…sometimes it was karate/martial arts, other times it was a big Japanese corp, or an asian immigrant playing a (stereotypes) supporting, villian, or love interest role.

    Another example is Rising Sun (movie and novel), weyland-yutani, and all the americanized asian culture/ kids in 80s movies…gleaming the cube, karate kid, goonies etc etc

  19. It’s so fascinating to see how ideas get assimilated into our culture, changing the context of films so much. I wonder what from out time, that looks shocking to us now, will be readily accepted in the future?

  20. This is fascinating! I wonder when the attitudes changed – I don’t think it was in the 90’s. I started to learn how to use chopsticks in high school (2000’s) for my Japanese class – our sensei had us practice with skittles. But I went to a more ethnically diverse school so we didn’t quite have the same racial prejudices as other schools did. Especially since we had a high Asian population.

  21. Meanwhile the nerds of my generation grew up watching Toonami, wondering why the US didn’t have more cool shit like Japan.

  22. I’m surprised a lot of people don’t realize that a lot of cyberpunk stuff is due to the booming Japanese economy and industry. Back to the Future 2 had a moment of this, where Marty is fired by his ruthless Japanese boss. Hell, it’s the entire point behind Robocop 3. There was an actual fear by Americans that the Japanese would slowly take over everything through business and culture. Or at least it was a concern.

    It’s interesting to see how Japanese media reacted to the changes as well, in stuff like Akira and video games like Final Fantasy VII.

  23. Greedily, I enjoy America’s dominance in global culture and business, but I also realize it’s coming to an end and that is scary. It’s weird to think that my children won’t grow up with the same privilege I had just from being born in the right country.

    That’s why I hope we’ll move toward a more united global society, like the EU but on a global scale. As an American, American dominance is everyone else’s problem to deal with, but the thought of playing second-fiddle to Europe or China doesn’t seem so great.

  24. >anxiety of Japan being a major economic powerhouse with the rise of imported Japanese cars, electronics, and other exports that had American trembling at Japan’s standing as the leading economy

    This was sorted out when USA slapped sanctions on Toshiba back in the 80s

    Rest of Japan received the message loud and clear, problem solved (for USA that is)

    Free market, eh?

  25. I thought it was cool because the Japan was like a big TECH nation, avant-garde Robotics, computing while at the same time keeping on their sense of pride, etiquette and manners.


    *You could link this kind of Sci-fy with the world in which “Riddick” movies take place*.


    In Riddick, there’s a character who’s an *Imam* (an Islamic Cleric or sort of) and also a place called *New Mecca*, and I guess it’s either a city or even a Planet.

    Is that also Xenophobia ?

    IMO : Having this religion, which happens to exist in our world, in a scy-fy movie adds a part of “Reality”.

    I did not think it was xenophobe. Maybe there’s a reason, maybe the creators of Riddick are xenophobic against Islam, but then that would make sense if the character would have been an Evil one (which he’s not).

    Also, *nobody but them will pray (Imam and a few followers in the 1st movie*). The Planet/city is called new Mecca but *we never get to see it*.

    In the second episode, Imam is on another planet : Helion prime I guess.

    Maybe they thought it would have been wrongly perceived if the event of the 2nd movie have happened on a planet named New Mecca. (or maybe offensive toward muslim)

    Does adding Japanese cultural references to a scy-fy piece have the same effect ? People eating with chopsticks is cultural Invasion ?


    ***I think it’s Riddickulous !***

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