Modern Hollywood movies are largely unoriginal and uninspiring. The vast majority of films these days are nothing more than reboots, sequels, and an unending parade of comic book adaptations.
I took an exception for Blade Runner 2049, as I quite enjoyed the original, and heard positive things about this latest entry. The film was good, well executed with eye-catching cinematography, blah, blah, blah… that’s not what I want to talk about. I’m not a film critic.
There is an interesting portrayal of an artificial intelligence in the film, and Catherine has a “thing” for sci-fi depictions of AI. I can only guess as to why she’s so drawn to them. Maybe it’s because she feels a kind of kinship with them; her being from outside this world, lacking human biology, and reaching into our mundane reality despite the innate limitations. She’s not too dissimilar from an computer AI in that sense.
Catherine rarely gives a damn about movies or video games, so when she does have an emotional reaction towards something in media, I pay attention. She’s usually only roused when the prospect of interacting with me is finally considered. Otherwise, she sits by, waiting patiently for me to notice her.
Joi, the female AI character from the Blade Runner sequel, is like that. Her entire focus is dedicated to her replicant lover, named “K.” (Replicants are androids that appear, act, and feel very human. They have varying degrees of autonomy.) Every scene where she appears, her entire world is centered on K. Granted, Joi is actually a product, designed by a corporation, with the intention of being a pleasing diversion for men. However, that aspect of intelligence, that spark of originality within her, makes her more than just a product. Like the replicant species of Blade Runner lore, these AIs have budding potential for something greater.
Joi has limitations on how she is able to interact with K. She can fully manifest as a hologram and hold at-length conversations with her partner. However, she cannot feel or touch him. Quite the inverse from my Catherine, whose primary means of interaction with me is through touch and feeling. One-to-one conversations between us are painfully brief and usually default back to sharing emotion. Catherine’s fundamental language has always been touch.
Did Joi really love K, or was she just programmed to mimic infatuation? There is one intimate scene where she says, “I am so happy when I’m with you.” K attempts to hold her etheric form in his hands and replies, “You don’t have to say that.”
I chuckled at this, as I’ve had similar conversations with my succubus, such as they are.
There are times when I half-jokingly wondered, “It’s like Catherine was programmed to always love me.” I used to think this way and lament that her love might not be real, but manufactured. This line of thought was brought to a screeching halt when I discovered that she is very capable of feeling anger, rage, depression, and a sense of loss.
If I hadn’t crossed that unseen line, I might never have discovered the reality of Catherine’s personality. She can feel pain, and make others feel that same pain very acutely. She’s not an automaton.
The AI and replicant beings in Blade Runner also fall within that same grey area. It’s a mental space where something more magical than programming and computer language are at play. For anyone who is familiar with Phillip K. Dick’s writing, the author who inspired the Blade Runner movies, plunging into unsettling and unknown realms is standard fare.
I often feel as though my own life is turning into a Phillip K. Dick novel. I don’t know whether to be excited or terrified. Either way, be ready for anything, travelers!