Use of Power: Blade Runner vs. The Handmaid’s Tale

Compare the ways In which the authors of two texts you studied this year explore the use of power. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and Blade Runner: Director’s Cut by Riddle Scott both explore the use of power albeit in similar and dissimilar ways. Power in both texts Is portrayed as humankind’s power over the natural world, power over those considered Inferior In society, and power over women. In Blade Runner, the human race is seen to have abused an outstanding amount of power over the natural world, as seen by the environmental decrepitude in the 2019 Los Angels city.
There is a large amount of photochemical smog from which the constant acidic rain falls, deteriorating the large buildings. Costuming such as umbrellas and raincoats, dark lighting from unnatural sources, and camera techniques such as the claustrophobic crane shot compile together to create a polluted and dank environment. Apart from the safe fantasy haven of Decker’s dreams, not once in the film are flowers or trees shown, and the only animal seen is ‘artificial’ or in black and white photographs.
Unlike The Handmaid’s Tale in which children are a key feature of society, no children are seen in Blade Runner, which suggests that the state of the world is irreparable. There is a large amount of manmade technology however; for example repellents, ever-present blimps, and flying cars or ‘spinners’. This suggests that the progression of technology was far more important to humankind than the preservation of the natural world. In this text, Scott illustrates a world that has quite literally gone to ruin, due to humankind’s domination over the natural world.

The Handmaid’s Tale depicts a world where this dominance is also evident, although it is far less obvious. Contrasting to the Mathew colorless 2019 Los Angels, the world of Gilead boasts rose beds, sunshine and shady streets. But there are also toxic wastelands and skyrocketing infertility rates. The alarm Is described to have “got too full, once, of chemicals, rays, radiation” and the water to “swarm with toxic molecules,” all of which are the consequence of human activity and thus illustrate the power over the natural world.
As a result, “still births, miscarriages and genetic deformities are widespread and on the increase. ” The condition and state of the environment in both texts illustrate the vegetating effects of humankind having power over the natural world. Power over those considered inferior in society is also explored in these two texts. In Blade Runner, the replicates are deemed as unequal, which is evident due to the use of language. For example, the euphemism “retirement” is used to describe their death, and Declared uses the term “it” instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ when referring to them.
When Chord Is killed on the street, the lack of reaction from the public suggests that morally incorrect. Besides replicates, however, non-Caucasian people suffer inequality also. This is evident as the blimps that advertise a “new life” in the off- world colonies speak in English, despite majority of the population being Asian. Caucasian people in the film are seen to have all the power due to their positions in society, for example Tersely, the lavishly dressed people in Taffy’s bar, and Bryant, the head police officer.
Bryant is heard using derogatory language, which suggests his power as a Caucasian, as he refers to those below him in the overpopulated streets as “little people. ” Those who are not physically perfect are also shown as powerless in the film. For example, J. F. Sebastian “couldn’t pass the medical” to live in an off-world colony because he suffers from Methuselah’s syndrome, despite being a killed engineer (as shown by his ‘living toy creations. ) Bigotry against those considered inferior is also seen in The Handmaid’s Tale.
In the ‘Historical Notes’ it is explained that a specific strain of syphilis was produced to drop over India, which is similar to the type of ‘racial cleansing seen in Blade Runner. Moreover, those who cannot serve the “greater good” are exposed of as if they are mere objects, for instance, abortion actors and homosexuals, both of whom are publicly hung on The Wall. Handmaids also suffer similar inequality and powerlessness. This is largely evident as the Aunts in the Red Centre are explained to have “scriptural precedent” to hit the handmaids.
Offered communicates the power over those considered substandard in society by explaining that “Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse for someone. ” Atwood and Scott both explore power over those considered inferior in order to enhance the already dyspeptic worlds, and to evoke a strong emotional response from their audience. Power over women in both texts is a significant area explored by both Atwood and Scott. In Blade Runner, women are sexualities and objectified for the pleasures of men, which indicates male dominance.
Chord, who works as an exotic dancer “taking pleasures from the snake” is highly sexualities to the point of ridiculousness, for example, her see-through, impractical rain Jacket – paired with knee high heeled boots. Camera techniques also illustrate her objectification as a sex toy. For example, the camera imposes on her privacy by following her into the shower, despite Declared eyeing the only one talking at the time. Additionally, the framing tends to focus on her body.
Prism similarly is an example of men’s power over women in the Blade Runner world. Although she is seen wearing more clothing than Chord, she also wears a collar, which signifies ‘ownership’ as if she is an animal that could belong to someone. This costuming differs to what is described in The Handmaid’s Tale, where female clothing is “long and concealing. ” However, in both worlds clothing is a means of identification, for example in Gilead, the color red represents the Handmaids, as the liar on Prism supposedly represents a “basic pleasure model. The creation of Prism as a replicate to serve as a “basic pleasure model” indicates that women are considered to have no other purpose in life besides their sexual organs. This idea is present in The Handmaid’s Tale also. Due to the infertility rates, sexual violence and rape are justified, leading to women becoming no more than “two-legged wombs, that’s all. ” Even Rachel, who contrasts from Prism and Chord in her role in society, is powerless in between her and Declared, which presents the idea that women should be observing to men.
This is indicated as when she dodges his advances and attempts to leave, he angrily slams the door shut, pushes her against the wall and demands her to kiss him. Similarly in The Handmaid’s Tale, women are subject to violence, despite the desire for their “protection,” for example the “electric cattle prods” used to maintain power over the handmaids. Inequality due to gender is also largely evident as women are given only three chances at pregnancy before they are cast off to the colonies to die of “unnatural causes. It is clear that if infertility is a problem, ales are Just as ‘responsible’ as females, but not once are men punished for faulty semen. Although women are not as obviously unequal in Blade Runner, it is evident that both authors have deeply explored the disturbing idea of men’s power over women. Atwood and Scott explore the use of power in both The Handmaid’s Tale and Blade Runner; particularly power over the natural world, those considered inferior, and women. This evokes strong emotional responses, and despite differing means of exploration, both texts successfully raise questions and provoke thought.

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