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C Is for Cyberpunk

For a genre with such a simple name, cyberpunk sparks a lot of debate. A “cyberpunk” is a cyborg teen with a disdain for authority, right? Eh, not so much. Much like the dreaded “emo” label in music, aficionados of the genre argue endlessly over what does and does not constitute cyberpunk. Is The Matrix , with its dystopian setting, heroic hacker lead, and overabundance of leather a classic of the genre, or merely “cyberpunk lite”? What about the government-dodging teens in Akira , racing their motorcycles through the streets of Neo-Tokyo? And the William Gibson story aside, must we also include Johnny Mnemonic

Fans of the genre will agree on one thing: Blade Runner is
the ultimate cyberpunk film experience. It hits all the marks: A noir
mystery plot? A world that relies on cybernetics and cutting edge
technology? An underlying current of distrust for those in positions of
authority? Blade Runner‘s got them in spades. Even Gibson,
the author often credited for popularizing the genre, has pointed out
the resemblances between the world depicted in his book Neuromancer and Blade Runner‘s Los Angeles. 

In the film world, the cyberpunk label has come to encompass everything from Robocop to the forgettable Angelina Jolie thriller, Hackers . (‘Cause, uh, its about hackers.) And its influence on the world of anime is legion. (There would be no  Ghost In the Shell without cyberpunk.) There is also much debate over whether or not Fritz Lang’s Metropolis planted the seeds for the entire genre.

Whatever cyberpunk is or isn’t, films like Blade Runner and Akira (and
the work of genre authors like Bruce Bethke and Neal
Stephenson) continue to influence science fiction today. So feel free
to blame them for Aeon Flux .

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