Cyberpunk's Asian representation problem


A post was merged into an existing topic: “White” is not really A Thing


So… are all the males in that game animals? And all the females are attractive women?
Looks pretty cool regardless.


I don’t know, I seem to remember it was an excellent book. I don’t recall anything else about it though.



It’s not cyberpunk, but this is one of the big problems with Firefly and Serenity. Whedon swaped China for Japan as the rising Asian powerhouse as made sense in the world of 2002, sprinkled hanzi on the set dressing and Chinese phrases through the dialogue, and didn’t manage to cast a single Asian main character!


Also, from what I remember of This Film is Not Yet Rated, female nudity will get you an R, but male nudity will get you an NC-17 every time, and that’s not acceptable for a studio that wants a blockbuster.


Pretty bizarre that teen soapy “Smallville” managed to do a better job during the same time, set in freaking Kansas. (Kristen Kreuk is at least half asian)


One thing I noticed in Blade Runner 2049 was that the Asian influence from the first movie seemed to have been replaced with Russian influence.

This reminds me of an old Omni short story where the US has won nuclear war with Russia by dropping neutron bombs, but the Russians had decimated the US via an ‘anti-capitalist-bomb’ that destroys structures but leaves people, so the Americans take over the land of Russia. As a result of the hardship, the Americans start becoming more Russian.

That’s kind of what seems to have happened here – the BlackOut event has messed up the climate and created extreme weather and hardship, and the Russians have come to the forefront in the new post BlackOut world. Kind of a co-incidence, given the prominence of Russian influence in today’s news headlines.


That’s partly explained at least for the crew of Serenity, which was built up from people who were rebelling against the Sino-American Alliance, but you would have expected the Alliance side to have more Asians. Although, they were the villains of the story, so having Asian representation there would have just turned it into Flash Gordon.


You just nailed my issue with BR2049; it had an incredibly White, cisgendered male focus that just didn’t ring true.


The depiction of diversity in the first Blade Runner always struck me as xenophobic, in contrast to The Fifth Element, where the diversity clearly enabled rich new experiences for the inhabitants of the city in spite of the crowding.

The depiction in BR 2049 is baffling, there’s a cultural sterility, an implied oppression that seems to have cleansed diversity from the city. Seems like missing back-story.


The game has a similar setup to Blade Runner actually. Humans genetically engineered sentient/evolved animals to do manual off-world dangerous work and they eventually rebelled. The heavy Indian and Chinese influences are due to the major genetic engineering companies being from those countries/cultures and the creatures took it as part of their own identities and belief/faith system.

As to why there’s attractive women in the trailer? It’s a video game and game designers fall into the usual pitfalls of sexualizing women. Right now it’s too early to tell how the game will really look and play though. And also as far as i know human males exist, can’t say why none are in the trailer… i did not play the original game so my knowledge comes from interviews and some research i’ve done into the game when the trailer originally hit.


The casino where Deckard lives (is it supposed to be in an abandoned Vegas? I didn’t get it) had Hangul writing on its windows, suggesting a Korean influence.


Plus you had Sebastian’s Methuselah Syndrome and presumably other glandular diseases ravaging earth’s population. Remember, the earth is supposed to be a hellhole in recovery post environmental FUBAR so anyone there wasn’t lucky enough to get to the offworld colonies… or is important enough to live far above the dross and filth the common pleb has.

So in a very real sense what we are seeing are white people in humanity’s ghetto.

Frankly I’m glad the Right hasn’t really caught wind of that little factoid from the original movie and the short story it’s based on else there would be non stop bitching at how white people are depicted as the new underclass.


I don’t know if the movie saw any last minute editing or not, but a massive dirty bomb had gone off at some point rendering the city unlivable. When watching the movie i just felt deep sadness during those scenes because i’ve lived in Vegas and also we had the recent Vegas shooting. They mention the dirty bomb in a vague manner when Kay has the wooden horse checked for its origin. Since watching the movie i’ve kind of struggled with how i feel about the Vegas thing in Blade Runner, i know it’s not the studio or filmmaker’s fault.


It was an excellent book, made out of interlinking books within a book, and the movie wasn’t bad either. And the point of having a white actor portraying an Asian wasn’t gratuitous – it made sense in context because the characters in the different stories are supposed to be different versions of the same people, and how else do you visualize that other than having the same actor portray them?


But the precedent has already been set – it takes place in Los Angeles. When I first watched Blade Runner as a kid growing up in the L.A. area, I understood the strong asian presence in the film as an extrapolation of the already existing rather large immigrant community which L.A. is famous for; even Gaff, the Edward James Olmos character, is a mixture of Chinese and latino (and maybe German?), and speaks a street pidgin which is the combination of all of the above.

Joss Whedon despite all his flaws, really nailed it with all the attention to detail, including making the characters multi-lingual.


In futuristic cyberpunk worlds, isn’t a main theme about the concentration and mixing of many cultures? Creating street languages that fuse asian, spanish, english all together. One would also assume that the generations of children would be a product of this intermingling. This would certainly create a good diversity, but many of the isolated cultures of today would certainly evolve from what we have today. 200 years ago many cultures we have today didn’t exist and in 200 years there will be different ones that need to be represented.


As someone desperatelty avoiding spoilers? THANK YOU FOR HIDING TEXT.

I greatly appreciate that.


Only 2 crew members were brown-coats.