Ever since technology has been developed to help people to have a better life. People cannot stop developing or imagining what would happen to the future world. As the time changed, orientalism changed as well. A new form of orientalism – techno-orientalism has been developed. Techno-orientalism is set up for the Western countries to maintain its own image as the imaginative idea of the futuristic world (Ueno, T, 1999). The idea of techno-orientalism is continuously acting as science-fiction movies’ settings, for instance, Blade Runner, Cloud Atlas, Ghost In the Shell. Techno-orientalism becomes a great impact on our world.
Blade Runner, a 1982 movie, directed by Ridley Scott. Despite the box office of the movie was not good, there were about $5.8 million of profit, the movie still considers as the all-time best science-fiction movie. Its unique production design became a great influence on the sci-fi genre. The movie is full of futuristic technologies, flying cars, giant virtual billboards, replicants. In the movie, we can spot a lot of Asia element in it, characters are having sushi, Japanese lady on the giant virtual billboards, Asian scientist make replicants’ eyeballs. These elements represent as a concept of USA fears Japan’s fast technology development would take over the world one day.
Cloud Altas, a 2012 movie, from the creators of the Matrix trilogy, the Wachowskis, which also features many techno-orientalism. This time in Cloud Altas, there is a specific timeline called Neo Seoul, 2144. The futuristic of Korea, like in Blade Runner, there are clones as slaves. Asian actress, Doona Bae, played the main clone in this timeline, along with few western actors, Jim Sturgess, James D’Arcy, who are made up to look like Asian. The techno-orientalism in this movie is “with regard to the more nuanced substructures of othering in our time, as a hyperreal afterlife of its progenitor under the veneer of post-racialist politics.” (Haerin Shin, 2017). Although there were critical about this storyline should be cast as many Asian as possible, the meaning behind the story is based on Buddhism.
Photo from singularityweblog.com
The latest film, Ghost in the Shell. It based on Japanese same name comic. The movie is set in the future and focus in East Asia. This movie was the product of techno-orientalism, a brief concept of the future world. According to Ken Martin, he thought Japan had pushed itself into a further direction of capitalizing on the West’s correlation between Japan and technological advancement and turning the dream into reality. This movie showing us the root of techno-orientalism, the future world with all the kind of technology from Japan, a human can also be a robot. When watching this movie, we could not stop thinking what would happen to us if we are half human and half robot, a cyborg.
Techno-orientalism is a great influence concept to the movie industry. Many science-fiction stories are based on this concept. Even after years later, when we watch back Blade Runner, we still are amazed by the movie design. When we watch this kind of movie, we would hope one day these kinds of technology could bring us a better life and the orientalism to our life.
Ueno, T 1999, ‘Techno‐Orientalism and media‐tribalism: On Japanese animation and rave culture’, Third Text, Vol 13, no. 47, pp. 95-105
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Lavender, Isiah, III, ed. Dis-Orienting Planets: Racial Representations of Asia in Science Fiction. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2017. p. 131-143
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