Is There Such Thing as a ‘Blade Runner’ Curse?
The National Review discusses the movie's economic curse and what it means for capitalism.
Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles in 2019, where flying cars and neon advertising are common. Recently, the Wall Street Journal wrote about the Blade Runner curse, where all the brands that are shown thriving in the movie’s future, end up facing financial troubles in the real world.
Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, writes that director Ridley Scott though using real corporations at the time would help “convey his gloomy foreboding about the triumph of corporate power in our not-too-distant future.” So he put Coca-Cola, Atari, RCA Corp. and others into the movie.
Of the eight companies that appeared in the film, five them have disappeared, have broken up or were bought by other firms. So does this mean appearing in the movie jinxed businesses?
Atari went “belly-up” and was later bought and revived by another company, while Koss and Cuisinart both went bankrupt. Bell Telephone was broken into multiple different companies.
Many companies want to be a part of the sequel, Blade Runner 2049. Lowry writes that maybe they aren’t supertitious or maybe they know something “that’s lost on science-fiction writers.”
National Review writer Kevin D. Williamson wrote that a staple of science fiction has always been that corporations will take hold of our lives. But Williamson writes that this is a “backward-looking, out of touch with reality” idea and that big corporations are often powerless “when it comes to surviving.
There is a simliar idea about the super rich, that they only get richer over time. But Lowry writes that though the combined net worth of the “1 percent” has increased, the actual people who make up that one percent “come and go.”
So perhaps the Blade Runner curse isn’t a curse at all, but instead a normal part of capitalism. Jospeh Schumpeter once pointed out that monopolies can’t last forever in a free market. They start relying too heavily on existing business models. There are always new techniques and technologies entering society that end up beating out the “big guys.”
Lowry references The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith, that the only thing that can make a “monopoly permanent is government” because they are the only ones who can prevent innovation and competition. So maybe we should be less afraid of the Blade Runner curse, and more afraid of the “most plausible dystopian visions, like Orwell’s 1984.”
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