It is typically argued that Blade Runner should be seen as a metaphor of the postmodern condition, or of our—”our” insofar as we are postmodern subjects—schizophrenic relation to the Symbolic order. It is said that while the film's replicants are initially resistant to the social order, to survive they embark on an Oedipal journey. This suggests that the film performs a “safety-valve” function for the contemporary viewing subject experiencing increased confusion as to his or her roles in society, for the subject increasingly confronted with a crisis in the Oedipal relation. However, it may be that the film is substantially more open to the fluctuations and even deconstructions of the Oedipal relation, working through it while never, in fact, buttressing it.
In noting that film texts provide (for) fantasy scenarios in which spectators are placed, however ambiguously, and through which they roam according to the idiosyncracies of their psychic histories, this article suggests that some texts work from within the construction, logic, and pleasures of such fantasy scenarios to unravel or “traverse” them, in this way leaving the spectator precariously placed against the Real. If at the end of the analysis Blade Runner still deserves the qualifier canonical—as so many university courses presently attest—it will have less to do with the film's ability to be explained through the artifact of postmodern theory than it will with the film's serving as an index of the demise of the Oedipal relation and Symbolic efficiency in the contemporary era.