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Twenty-First Century Transhumanism: Adapting, Franchising and Participating in Modern Cyberpunk

Journal Article


Abstract


  • As personal computers and the internet became steadily integrated with everyday life during the 1980s and 1990s, well-regarded cyberpunk texts – both novels and, more prevalently, films such as Blade Runner, The Matrix and the original Ghost in the Shell anime – popularised a genre intent on incisively questioning humanity’s dystopic relationship with technology. Although cyberpunk gained prevalence in this period and the early 21st century, it then fell into relative disuse as one of science fiction’s flagship screen genres. Today, our ubiquitous use of technology has been critiqued in a number of films and television series that channel strands of cyberpunk (including Black Mirror, Her and Mr. Robot), although the genre as a whole is under-utilised on the screen. However, given cyberpunk’s origin as an intervention on current social, cultural, political and technological concerns, filmmakers and television showrunners of the late 2010s are once again demonstrating the genre’s ongoing ability to unpack and deconstruct these concerns with viewers. This article investigates how textual creators are constructing their interpretations of cyberpunk as both a genre and a screen practice used to negotiate present-day anxieties. It examines three recent texts: television series Altered Carbon (created by Laeta Kalogridis) and Westworld (created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy), and the film Blade Runner 2049 (directed by Denis Villeneuve). All three case studies are adaptational texts, created respectively as a result of adapting (Altered Carbon), reimagining (Westworld) and progressing (Blade Runner) beyond cyberpunk texts. The article unpacks these adaptations and their contemporising of cyberpunk genre conventions through their production strategies, cinematic language and creative influences, arguing for the merits of cyberpunk as an influential screen genre that is apt for engaging present-day audiences in vital discourses.

Publication Date


  • 2019

Citation


  • Comerford, C. "Twenty-First Century Transhumanism: Adapting, Franchising and Participating in Modern Cyberpunk." Refractory: a journal of entertainment media 33 (2019): 1.

Start Page


  • 1

Volume


  • 33

Place Of Publication


  • Melbourne, Australia

Abstract


  • As personal computers and the internet became steadily integrated with everyday life during the 1980s and 1990s, well-regarded cyberpunk texts – both novels and, more prevalently, films such as Blade Runner, The Matrix and the original Ghost in the Shell anime – popularised a genre intent on incisively questioning humanity’s dystopic relationship with technology. Although cyberpunk gained prevalence in this period and the early 21st century, it then fell into relative disuse as one of science fiction’s flagship screen genres. Today, our ubiquitous use of technology has been critiqued in a number of films and television series that channel strands of cyberpunk (including Black Mirror, Her and Mr. Robot), although the genre as a whole is under-utilised on the screen. However, given cyberpunk’s origin as an intervention on current social, cultural, political and technological concerns, filmmakers and television showrunners of the late 2010s are once again demonstrating the genre’s ongoing ability to unpack and deconstruct these concerns with viewers. This article investigates how textual creators are constructing their interpretations of cyberpunk as both a genre and a screen practice used to negotiate present-day anxieties. It examines three recent texts: television series Altered Carbon (created by Laeta Kalogridis) and Westworld (created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy), and the film Blade Runner 2049 (directed by Denis Villeneuve). All three case studies are adaptational texts, created respectively as a result of adapting (Altered Carbon), reimagining (Westworld) and progressing (Blade Runner) beyond cyberpunk texts. The article unpacks these adaptations and their contemporising of cyberpunk genre conventions through their production strategies, cinematic language and creative influences, arguing for the merits of cyberpunk as an influential screen genre that is apt for engaging present-day audiences in vital discourses.

Publication Date


  • 2019

Citation


  • Comerford, C. "Twenty-First Century Transhumanism: Adapting, Franchising and Participating in Modern Cyberpunk." Refractory: a journal of entertainment media 33 (2019): 1.

Start Page


  • 1

Volume


  • 33

Place Of Publication


  • Melbourne, Australia