RND// To consider at least a few ways in which Cyberpunk always was a mere ideological safe space for transhuman capitalist techno-fascist jerkoffs.
A possible response or temporary 12-step satirical antidote to the uninterrupted, unfiltered gushing hype still (to this day) surrounding what basically seems only a minor vestigial sub-genre within the literary sc-fi ghetto:
Scene 000. Oh to unceremoniously drop kick Cyberpunk back into the back alley garbage it was found discarded in. Not only just another gross teen terminator power level 9000 circle jerk, but a key expression of the banal fantasy of power – always simply just Your-Inner-Dad with a new fake designer eye he utterly fails to perceive his own willful idiocy and asshole-ness from. A speculative scenario in which Cyberpunk was, and is always forever thoroughly bleached / beached plastic White (as a state of techn0-mind and will-to-dominance.) Cyberpunk as cool, only in the sense that a twitching corpse hooked up to the internet is cold to the touch.
Scene 001. Cyberpunk as a Dark (/Web) Paradise – a desperately inane Killing Joke always at someone else’s real expense, writ large on the walls of Global Spectacle – bloody, circuit-riddled idiot brains smeared up against a wall of conservative shit streaks, mere ideological shorthand for “Sociopathically Fetishized Hyper-Futurism” – that is, a perfected Utopian Dystopia or Dark Paradise for arche-typical leather clad über-dingus “Lord Edge” to strut around in – renegade maverick dick king of the biowired dung-heap, casually dishing out Cool Cyberpunk Headshots to those deemed less automatically unworthy of survival in His Brave New Data Order. Cyberpunk as something always kinda pathetic and vague and dimly violent, for tough guy wankers only – militant Ryandian individualists with a pathological Lone Wolf Syndrome chip on / in their shoulders – self important internet trolls run amok who underwent Permanent Irony-Gland Removal Procedure at vat-birth.
Scene 002. “Information Wants To Be Free.” Yeah, for a price only a pre-selected minority can pay. What ‘freedom’ in this context means is simply exclusive Neoliberal distribution rights – the heavy hidden hand of the global market place concerned only with constant ‘disruption’ – ie. constantly shaking dead tree to loosen coins from your rentier wallet – the black hole of big data pushing its dead weight around, leveling entire mountains to shave off milliseconds off sweet ‘free market’ trades. Information releasing itself from Pandora’s internet box, only as a cause for celebration for those already with the fiscal means to trade in it. And besides, who gives a flying neon tinted shit about apparently holy ‘Information’ when it’s Meaning your starving for?
Scene 003. On “The Street Finds It’s Own Uses For Things”: No. You don’t live on the street like or with almost everyone else – you merely hang about on rainy rooftops looking cool, have easy instant access to bleeding edge arm blades and high caliber A.I retorts for when you’re murdering roving mutie punk gangs. Your weak “I didn’t ask for this”™ excuse doesn’t wash here either – nobody’s buying the fact The System had you brought hook line and sinker from the very outset. This is a ‘program’ (in all senses) you already committed to with every breath of your pretty designer lungs.
Sure, you often get all angsty over the radical changes to your meat puppet body and your ongoing mis-relationship with technology (at this point, sufficiently indistinguishable from Magical Thinking) but no doubt your cool black leather jacket and ‘street cred’ will see you through another day of hard, bloody ‘biz’ and designer sex, you poor synthetic lamb.
Scene 004. The same goes for that old ‘High Tech, Low Life’ lie: whenever Cyberpunk talks of and-or evokes ‘grim meathook realities’, it’s only ever suggesting that some poor bastard making shoes out of old tires on a dusty street corner in Africa is somehow remotely ‘cool’. That is, it’s only ever cool and interesting from an ultra-privileged, White-minded, colonialist position of safety and comfort. You are not (nor never were) that abandoned orphan in some war lord torn state, forced to sell your life and labor to passing Ugly Inner Amerikan tourists in a passing air conditioned tour bus; you are not seen as entirely disposable and meaningless as the tires they cut using a bit of old wire connected to a stolen Tesla battery.
You however with your soft hands, soft wired brain, almost no moral spine and barely a fucking clue, generally live on the Lowest Default Difficulty Setting possible. So enough oozing with techno-romanticism already – all those pious industry psalms have been heard before. Cyberpunk as a cheap holiday through other people’s misery – with WiFi.
Scene 005. Anti-Humanist, Cyberpunk Transhuman Assholism 101: In which you are only ‘free’ under Global Ludocapitalism to be an ’emancipated slave’ – ie. to be free to mindlessly be consumed by mass consumption. There’s about as much potential for actual freedom within Cyberpunk Reality as there is by upgrading your fucking graphics card in order to play Cyberpunk 2077 (wow, who even remembers them Old W4r3z?)
Scene 006. Style Over Substance.
It’s like, hey, you get more street cred experience because you looked cool killing someone.” – Alvin Liu, CD Projekt Red
You mean only have style, because your substanceless and generally pathetic. But no, wait haven’t you heard? That’s recently been updated with a hotfix patch to ‘style *with* substance’ – the new old Playstation inspired Third Way, ‘Labor with a Laptop’ as they used to say in England. It’s been done to death. Talk about barely warmed over – at this point, Cyberpunk make Zombies look fresh dynamic and exciting.
Scene 007. The Cyberpunk Future Doesn’t Need You: It’s been repeatedly running itself into the ground for quite a while now. A fully automated shit show out of control – yet which is fully in control of you. Likewise, nobody needs Cyberpunk. Try living in a shitty rented room with a flickering neon sign loudly humming right outside; you’ll want to smash that shit right off with a lump hammer inside an hour. (How deadpan-ironically punk.)
Scene 008. The Only Thing Good About Punk Was Post-Punk. Punk was to Disco what Post Punk was to Syd Vicious – some dimly aggressive undead hamster who shot up speed mixed with vomit and toilet water and only impressed very few. Shit, the only thing going for Punks was the very fact they were Pretty Vacant – at least compared to Cyberpunks cosmically cringy, ultra self serious techno-fascist ‘Mirrorshades’ data highway cop look. Thankfully we collectively moved on fast after that false dead start and got Television, Wire, Cocteau Twins and No Wave. Listen to the raw power of Iggy’s Down On The Street and realize (/Cyber)punk on serious LSD tabs would be an immediate and much needed improvement. The Stooges make (/Billy Idol’s) Cyberpunk look like Fucking Abba’s Greatest Hits.
Scene 009. Cyberpunk as Pseudo-Dystopian (‘Pseudopian’): The myth Cyberpunk constantly told itself is that was it ever somehow remotely, truly Dystopian. In fact it was only ever merely fascist Italian Futurism’s love of the sounds of war and destruction – as seen from a nice balcony overlooking the carnage in the distance. Only a few Cyberpunk fiction ever truly lived in its mundane everyday world – the vast majority (of the 1% minority) always seem too busy strutting around with all the necessary implants making big deals, busy battling for data, working for the man – all meals, ammo, accommodation and associated expenses part of the exclusive Deal.
Scene 010. In which Cyberpunk is that obnoxious pasty shit-eating brat from Ready, Player One – but just armed to his perfect teeth with smart air burst ammo and a heavily modified illegal 3D printed AK47 he regularly polishes with his MAGA hat. And somewhere on the wall of his hollow rented skull you can bet is a slightly torn poster of Cyberpunk’s spiritual guru / mythical founder William Gibson – a hopeless beanpole voyeur nerd who simply wasn’t cool enough back in the day to hack it as a hippie.
Note that an anagram of “William Gibson, Neuromancer” is “Common as unreliable wiring” and perfectly describes most Cyberpunk ever conceived – that is, it was written (badly) by Console Cowboys. [‘Cowboy’ is a UK term for bad tradespeople who do a lousy job on your house, often for inflated prices.]
Scene 011. Mask Of The Colonial Gaijin: in which all Cyberpunk ever did was pick and choose other far more interesting cultures and peoples to rip off and colonialize – which were already acting Cyberpunk in infinitely far more interesting ways than, eg. the talent free director Rupert Sanders ever envisioned. Thing is, saying shit like “Kowloon Walled City is oh so (cool and) Cyberpunk” often only ever merely betrays one as a depthless idiot, entirely indifferent to poverty and human suffering – who is only ever really interested in the Advanced Techno Aesthetic, regardless of the utterly misery which built those very (/social) structures. “It sure is neat to visit there (Virtually).. [but I’m sure glad someone else is living there instead of me!]”
Scene 012. Transhumanism: as simply anti-philosophical ideological justification for ultra rich white assholes who want to live and reign forever – as if they didn’t already own enough of the fucking pie. ‘Sieg Science’ is the transhumanist motto. Bollocks to that. Coming soon to an A.I-drone graffitied wall near you: “Death To Immortals.”
In short: believe in the pathetic, darkly laughable, amazingly obsolete, acutely embarrassing intellectual poverty and conceptual / artistic irrelevance of Cyberpunk – and YOUR DEATH WILL BE LIKE BAD SCIENCE FICTION. (Note: Keanu Reeves is only remotely ‘breathtaking’ if you’re a total chode.)
Keep your games out of my politics ;-)
– Theorist Robert What
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