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What, exactly, is a "Blade Runner"?
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andy
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is kind of a problem. The idea that a human could be retired by mistake would be a huge public relations nightmare that would harm both the BR Units, and replicant production. This was actually a big plot point in the book too. It makes zero sense that they would use a name that could potentially advertise that possibility. It doesn't seem like the name is a totally secretive nickname, but an official title. I understand that the movie is pointing out how blurry the line between replicant and human has become, but any official stance would be that there is no problem.

Also the name was used by the force back before there was much of a difficulty of telling the difference, judging by Deckard's long time serving, and the relative newness of the Nexus 6 models. It is alluded that the Blade Runner division has been around for a long time. Remember Gaff says something about him being a "Blade Runner" publicly, and the White Dragon noodle seller seems to be familiar with the title. Also the interactions with Bryant tell about his history that seems long past with Deckard and him. A lot more of this is talked about directly in the Hospital cut scenes between Deckard and Holden. Holden says something along the lines of "It ain’t like it used to be Pal. They ain't muscle miners anymore. They are almost us".

As an after the fact irony, or double meaning it works, but not as a good back story for the real reason the name would have been chosen. It has to be something almost mundane, that like a lot of things, grew to have deeper meaning.

Andy
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corellian77
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point regarding the older replicant models. If, in fact, they were easier to ID in the past and the risk of retiring a human minute, I could see how the development of the title of "blade runner" would be questionable.

However, as far as the title alluding to the possibility of a human being killed, I don't think this would prevent it from being used. Take, for example, some of the terms used for police officers today: pig, fuzz, flatfoot, gumshoe, etc. Even the term "cop", which police officers use themselves, is a colloquialism, and yet it is used almost as an official title for the profession. I see no reason, then, why the general public and police force alike wouldn't use the term "blade runner" in the film -- it may be an informal title (no different than "cop"), and yet everyone acknowledges the dangerous nature this job might entail insofar as accidental human casualties are concerned.

If there were a formal occasion depicted in the film where, say, the Chief of Police or the Commissioner used the term "blade runner" while addressing the public, I'd agree that it would be odd to formally acknowledge that members of your police force are in a job where they might kill innocent civilians. However, as it stands, the term is only ever used informally (i.e., between officers, officers and individual members of the public), therefore I don't have a problem believing such a term might be used in such situations.

... plus, if the idea of a police force existing whose job might entail the death of innocent individuals doesn't seem plausible, the line by Bryant ("If you're not cop, you're little people") would seem to suggest otherwise -- that the general public are of little concern and have limited rights.
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joberg
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, civilian as a whole have very limited "rights"...I mean your regular parking meter will kill you if you try to tamper with it. Try that one in our world today ...and since there seems to have a population explosion, what's with a few accidental "retirement" of humans? I do think that the society depicted in BR is in a kind of survival mode: rampant pollution, short life span, etc...the whole thing looks frankly post-apocalytic.
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corellian77
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

joberg wrote:
I do think that the society depicted in BR is in a kind of survival mode: rampant pollution, short life span, etc...the whole thing looks frankly post-apocalytic.


I agree... the fact that there are also promos for going off-world, where a "better life awaits you," seems to further indicate that those left behind on earth are of lesser status (poor, unhealthy, etc.). Sebastian is another example: doesn't he explain to Pris that the reason he can't go off-world is because of his disease?

All this seems to point to a civilization where the worth of the average individual is pretty low.
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andy
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The term "Cop", comes from the Copper metal on their buttons and badges. It is a term of respect, not of derision. It is also a mundane literal term like I stated above, and completely backs up my point.

Police would never call each other "Pigs". Any term that would make them look bad would also be forbidden to say within the ranks. I am not saying the world is a pretty place there, but the "Official" stance must always be that they are above reproach. Especially if they are not. Even the most corrupt and brutal institutions of authority act as if they are doing only the public good. They all put on the face of being the good guy. No way they would let themselves be called something that questions their authority and efficacy.

Andy
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SCOFFMAN
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree andy... I did some searching on the 'net for the origins of the term "cop" and a found quite a number of sites that had similar information. Here's the best of the explanations I found:

"Several popular etymologies, all certainly false, exist for this word meaning policeman. One says that it is an acronym standing for Constable On Patrol. Another says that the first policemen in London (or another city--it varies in the telling) had copper buttons on their uniforms. Yet another says that it was not buttons, but a copper badge that gave them the name. While the ultimate origin is disputed, most authorities agree that it is a shortening of copper. Cop was first used in 1859 and copper predates it from 1846.

Copper, as slang for policeman, derives from the verb to cop, which dates from 1704 and means to catch. The OED2 notes that an 1864 newspaper stated that people would exhibit a copper coin as they passed a policeman, in effect calling them copper. This may have been the beginning of the confusion with the metal copper. The ultimate origin of the verb copper is disputed. It either derives from the Dutch kapen, meaning to take. This in turn comes from the Old Frisian capia, meaning to buy. The other choice is that it derives from the French caper, to take, and ultimately from the Latin capere."

http://www.funtrivia.com/askft/Question51093.html


"Theories for the origin of cop abound, including the copper badge "explanation you mention. We'd always been under the impression that the term was an acronym for "constable on patrol." Well, it seems we're both mistaken, as we learned from our roundabout quest for the answer.

A simple Yahoo! search on "cop" returned many relevant categories, but we came up empty after checking sites in several categories.

We decided to narrow our probe by searching for "origin of cop" (using quotation marks around the term). We weren't expecting much, but when one of the results turned out to be a page from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary we clicked hopefully.

What we found was basically an advertisement for the Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories. At first we were disappointed, but then we realized why this page had appeared in the search results -- the word "cop" was one of the sample entries.

Around the year 1700, the slang verb cop entered English usage, meaning "to get ahold of, catch, capture." By 1844, cop showed up in print, and soon thereafter the -er suffix was added, and a policeman became a copper, one who cops or catches and arrests criminals. Copper first appeared in print in 1846, the use of cop as a short form copper occured in 1859."

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Who_created_the_word_cop

Also my own personal copy of the Dictionary of Word Origins states: "Copper the slang term for 'policeman' [19th century origin] is simply the agent noun formed from the verb cop 'seize,' which probably comes from Old French caper from Latin capere 'seize, take,' source of English capture."

Not trying to rain on your or anyone else's parade, but I thought you'd like the information...

scoff
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Art Deckard
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 10:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

andy wrote:
That is kind of a problem. The idea that a human could be retired by mistake would be a huge public relations nightmare that would harm both the BR Units, and replicant production. This was actually a big plot point in the book too. It makes zero sense that they would use a name that could potentially advertise that possibility. It doesn't seem like the name is a totally secretive nickname, but an official title. I understand that the movie is pointing out how blurry the line between replicant and human has become, but any official stance would be that there is no problem.

Andy


The idea of 'Blade Runner' as a non-specific code name with no real meaning has always appealed to me as an explanation for it's vagueness.
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SCOFFMAN
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PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Back to the term "Blade Runner" discussion... I have a simpler theory. As you know many military, para-military and elite/special police forces often took on nicknames or mottoes - from the Iron Dukes, Flying Tigers, Tropic Lightning or We Own the Night (FYI "We own the night” was the unofficial motto of the New York Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit in the 1990s.) I can imagine that for whatever reason the LAPD RepDetect unit either came up with the nickname of Blade Runner themselves or was it ascribed to them by another unit or the police department from an earlier reference or source.

As to that earlier source, I really like this reference from Wikipedia: "Burroughs' treatment is set in early 21st century and involves mutated viruses and what the back cover of the 1990 edition describes as "a medical-care apocalypse". The term "blade runner" referred to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels. (My emphasis)

To expand on this idea, this is my take on the origin of the term Blade Runner - the term Runner refers to someone that is doing something covertly, underground or clandestine; not something you'd divulge to the general public - as in gun running. And the term Blade, well that comes back to the scalpel reference; it's an instrument designed to surgically cut or remove tissue with precision.

When you combine the two terms in the context of a police organization, I'm sure you can imagine a covert unit whose raison d'être is the "surgical" removal of replicants from the human population - with little knowledge of or resistance by the general populace; even less interference by the replicants themselves and as little collateral damage as possible when 'retiring' a replicant.

I can imagine that the term or nickname of Blade Runner took a while to evolve but I hope you enjoyed my theory on how the name could have come to be and that a unit tasked with the removal of replicants might not want the moniker of Skin Job Extermination Squad.

scoff
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andy
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Scoff,

I came across some of those origins of "Cop" too later, but they still did not seem derisive, or at least refer to a dirty little secret of the division, which was my main point. Maybe at that time it may have been a negative used by the civilian population, but still were not enough as you might say, to piss off the cops enough to arrest you. Like the term "Smokey" to truckers which refers to their hat that resembles a Park Ranger hat worn by Smokey the Bear. The negative connotation comes from the fact that these truckers, like many people at that earlier time period were intending to break the law, and saw the police as their nemesis. A cop seizing people who are breaking the law is something I think most police would be proud of. Remember too when Roy says "aren't you the GOOD man", Trying to get Deckard to think about the reality of his job as opposed to the propaganda version. I think that was PKD's point as well, that the job dehumanizes you, and we can do great evil, as long as we call it "Doing Good".

I actually like your explanation too. It holds water, and I could see it being a realistic reason for the terms usage. I was just hoping to add some back story with my definition. Wink

Andy
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