Incep Dates and Pleasure Models: Death, Life, and Love in Blade Runner

  • Rebecca Gibson


This chapter examines the first Blade Runner movie, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the original novella (1982). In Blade Runner, Replicants become undetectable, undifferentiated visually, from humans. The newer models can pass the Voight-Kampff test—a test which distinguishes true emotional responses from implanted ones. This perfect mimicry is our next iteration of how we desire sex robots to behave, and it is desired well in advance of the possibility of building such bots. It is in this iteration of the story where two theoretical questions appear—that of the racialization of the characters, which is far more apparent in a visual media, and the humanity of death—that how being able to die, and the fear of it, humanize the movie’s Replicants.


Blade Runner Death Race Gender roles Sex Replicants 


  1. Campbell, N. (2010). Future sex: Cyborg bodies and the politics of meaning. Project Muse, 11(1).
  2. Danaher, J., & McArthur, N. (2017). Robot sex: Social and ethical implications. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dick, P. K. (1968/2017). Do androids dream of electric sheep? New York, NY: Del Ray.Google Scholar
  4. Forbes, B. (Director), & Scherick, E. J. (Producer). (1975). The Stepford Wives [Motion picture]. USA: Palomar Pictures.Google Scholar
  5. (2016). Artificial females in movies and television. Retrieved from
  6. Kübler-Ross, E. (1969). On death and dying. New York, NY: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  7. Levin, I. (1972). The Stepford wives. New York, NY: Random House.Google Scholar
  8. Levy, D. (2007/2008). Love and sex with robots: The evolution of human-robot relationships. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  9. Maiocchi, R. (1991). Can you make a computer understand and produce art? AI and Society. London, UK: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  10. Mead, C. (1990). Neuromorphic electronic systems. Proceedings of the IEEE, 78(10), 1629–1636.Google Scholar
  11. Menzel, P., & D’Aluisio, F. (2000). Robo sapiens: Evolution of a new species. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  12. Oz, F. (Director), & Rudin, S., DeLine, D., Scherick, E. J., & Grunfeld, G. (Producers). (2004). The Stepford Wives [Motion picture]. USA: DeLine Pictures.Google Scholar
  13. Pikoff, H. (1981). Biofeedback: A resource directory and outline of the literature. Professional Psychology, 12(2), 261–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Prater, T., & Fung, C. (2015). “How does it not know what it is?”: The techno-Orientalized body in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Larissa Lai’s Automaton Biographies. In D. S. Roh, B. Huang, & G. A. Niu (Eds.), Techno orientalism: Imagining Asia in speculative fiction, history, and media (pp. 193–208). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  15. RealDoll. (n.d.). Home page, testimonials, and product information. Retrieved from
  16. Roddenberry, G. (Producer). (1966–1969). Star Trek: The Original Series [Television series]. Hollywood, CA: Desilu Productions.Google Scholar
  17. Roh, D., Huang, B., & Niu, G. (2015). Desiring machines, repellant subjects: A conclusion. In D. S. Roh, B. Huang, & G. A. Niu (Eds.), Techno orientalism: Imagining Asia in speculative fiction, history, and media (pp. 221–226). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  19. Scott, R. (Director), & Deeley, M. (Producer). (1982). Blade Runner [Motion picture]. USA: The Ladd Company.Google Scholar
  20. Sinthetics. (2012–2019). Testimonials and product descriptions. Retrieved from
  21. Spielberg, S. (Director), & Kennedy, K., Spielberg, S., & Curtis, B. (Producers). (2001). A.I Artificial Intelligence [Motion picture]. USA: Amblin Entertainment.Google Scholar
  22. Swift, D. (Director), & Disney, W., & Golitzen, G. (Producers). (1961). The Parent Trap [Motion picture]. USA: Walt Disney Productions.Google Scholar
  23. Tablet. (2015). The art of Jewish hair. Retrieved from
  24. Villeneuve, D. (Director), & Kosove, A. A., Johnson, B., Yorkin, B., & Yorkin, C. S. (Producers). (2017). Blade Runner 2049 [Motion picture]. USA: Alcon Entertainment.Google Scholar
  25. Voskuhl, A. (2013). Androids in the enlightenment: Mechanics, artisans, and cultures of the self. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wachowski, L., Tykwer, T., & Wachowski, L. (Directors), & Arndt, S., Hill, G., Wachowski, L., Tykwer, T., & Wachowski, L. (2012). (Producers). Cloud Atlas [Motion picture]. USA: Cloud Atlas Production.Google Scholar
  27. Waldrop, M. (1988). Toward a unified theory of cognition. Science, 241(4861), 27–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Wosk, J. (2015). My fair ladies: Female robots, androids, and other artificial eves. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

Personalised recommendations