On a recent episode of the podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, Tesla founder Elon Musk induced the podcast’s host to fire a compound bow at the CyberTruck, a new Tesla model that the company insists will be delivered to customers who pre-ordered it on November 30. The arrow bounces off the side of the truck, leaving only a small dent. “That’s impressive,” Rogan says. “Yeah,” Musk agrees.
“You built it like this just for fun?” Rogan asks. “Trucks are supposed to be tough,” Musk responds. “Is your truck bulletproof?”
[Ed note: The internet has enjoyed the tweet from Elon Musk about blade-running and our old pal Max Read, of the excellent Substack READ MAX *you should subscribe to* sent out an email this morning breaking down what, exactly, Musk seems to have missed about the film. Max writes a lot about the future, film, technology, and science fiction. We thought the email was on point and we’re sharing it here with Max’s permission. – MH]
This is not the first time that Musk has suggested that the CyberTruck would be favored by a person or thing called “Bladerunner”–in March he said the vehicle was “Designed for Bladerunner.”
I am worried that Elon Musk is operating under several misunderstandings regarding the movie Blade Runner, beginning with the relationship between the movie’s title and the name of its main character. I would therefore like to use my platform to clarify some important points.
1. The Guy’s Name Is Not “Bladerunner”
2. He Already Has A Car
We don’t actually have to speculate on “what Bladerunner [sic] would have driven” because the movie shows us: We see Deckard behind the wheel of a “spinner,” or flying car.²
3. Even If He Needed A New Car, A Cybertruck Would Be A Poor Fit For His Specific Uses
Rick Deckard is not a general contractor. He does not own a boat he needs to tow; he doesn’t tailgate Chargers games, or whatever. He kills replicants! He doesn’t need cargo space or towing capabilities. Nor, for that matter, does he need an “armored personnel carrier”–he’s a cop, not a soldier! Replicants are not trying to kill Deckard except in self-defense; even then, they don’t have “tommy guns” or compound bows or any of the things that Musk is testing against the cybertruck’s body.
Plus, from what we can see, no one besides rich people and cops really drives at all, so he probably wouldn’t drive any cars except the spinner issued to him by the LAPD.
4. “Blade runners” Are Not Really Admirable Figures
Rick Deckard is not a cool guy to emulate; he’s a self-deluded contract killer, a slave catcher looked on with contempt by the people he works for and despised and feared by the people he hunts. The movie is about Deckard himself coming to realize this, among other things.
5. The future depicted in Blade Runner sucks
- Famously, the phrase “Blade Runner” isn’t located anywhere in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the Philip K. Dick novel on which the movie is based. It comes instead from a script treatment (written by William S. Burroughs!) for a movie based on a novel called The Bladerunner (one word) about a medical-equipment smuggler. Blade Runner director Ridley Scott liked the title and convinced producer Michael Deeley to buy the rights to it. I suppose it is possible, though in my opinion unlikely, that Musk is referring not to the incredibly famous cyberpunk movie Blade Runner but to the obscure 1970s novel The Bladerunner, though even in the case the titular “bladerunner” is actually named Billy Gimp, not “bladerunner.”
- Notably, we never see Deckard drive and we certainly never see him fly. Gaff, played by James Edward Olmos, chauffeurs Deckard through the sky, and according to the Petersen Automotive Museum, Deckard’s spinner is decommissioned, which means it can’t fly.