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TV Tropes Monday: Cyberpunk

Tweet of the Day: Strange Song Lyrics, Current Happenings, and Lack of Sleep


That, in a nutshell, is Cyberpunk.

A world in the near future where technology divides rich from poor, corporations are entities on to themselves without any oversight and everything is cloaked in shadows: physical as well as moral. A world interconnected yet distant. Nineteen Eighty-Four  collides with The Fountainhead picks up Animal Farm along the way and takes a jackhammer to Star Trek.

Welcome to the future.

And the present.

Starting with stories like Blade Runner (loosely based of Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and with roots going back to Metropolis) and Neuromancer, cyberpunk world borrows heavily from Film Noir of the 1920’s/1930’s mixes in a heavy dose of social/political commentary and smashes the idea of technological progress to bits. The technology is wondrous but since humans are bastards nothing really changes.

Just ask Mr. Nobel.

In many of the cyberpunk stories, like their detective era counterparts, a lone, cynical hero who wades through the unwashed masses battles against corrupt corporate officials (or their cronies/experiments gone wrong) one part arrogant, two parts corrupt, and three parts ignorant. Often the leaders of megacorporations (today known as multinationals) that are not out to rake in as much cash/power as possible dream suffer for what one might call the God’s Eye Illusion/Delusion. Because they have some much information at their fingertips (cameras, surveillance drones, huge databanks, sound familiar?) they believe that they can know/predict everything. This leads them to disregard those areas that are beyond their understanding as trivial. Hence the delusion created by the illusion.

Or to put in other words, the brighter the light, the deeper the shadow. Hence the prevalent aesthetics of Noir: bright lights in a big city filled with a few lofty towers (commonly called arcologies) with the masses scurrying though dark tunnels and alleys down below. The vertical separation serves as a visual shortcut for social divisions.

While other -punk movements are in vogue, we still hold on to cyberpunk because it has the best mix of social prescience and retro goodness.


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