Inspired by some of the recent posts, I figured it was time to see what y’all think the most iconic “cyberpunk” device or prop was from the movies or TV. Let’s do some word association. What’s the first movie scene or item that comes to your mind when someone says the word “cyberpunk”?
For example, it could be Deckard’s pistol from Blade Runner. Or maybe Kusanagi’s memetic camouflage body from Ghost in the Shell. Maybe it’s even a pair of rollerblades from Hackers.
For me it’s Nero’s “squid” device from Strange Days, an illegal electronic device that records memories and physical sensations directly from the wearer’s cerebral cortex onto a MiniDisc-like device for playback. This was the first “sensory transference” (e.g. Braindance) device that I had ever seen.
The playback machine had an electrode headgear apparatus that went on top of the head with 8 arms (hence the “squid” moniker, I think) that plugged into the recording/playback device. Since it was illegal, a lot of people wore them under wigs while recording to hide the fact that they were doing so and of course, there was also a big black market for the MD recordings that were produced.
Whenever someone says “cyberpunk”, this is the first image that pops into my head.
My first contact with cyberpunk were actually books, and indeed of the “grandfather” of the genre - William Gibson, namely Burning Chrome and Neuromancer. So the images in my head are stronger than most I’ve seen on TV or in movies, one the strongest being “the deck” which I always imagined as an ultra-slim integrated computer with a huge keyboard. Like a futuristic version of a Commodore 64 or Amiga… Probably weird in the day of touchscreens.
And Molly’s claws. Oh I was so in love with Molly.
Who wasn’t in love with Molly? A razorgirl with attitude for days. But yeah, hand razors are definitely something I’d consider iconic.
And as for decks, I kind of hate touchscreens (or at least only touchscreens). I prefer something physical and usually clicky-clacky for my input. I do find it interesting that there’s not a movie I can think of where a cyberdeck has been depicted, though. You’d think that there would be at least one in some movie since the deck is such a central concept to cyberpunk mythos.
The first thing that comes to my mind in this context is the Voight-Kampff test from BLADE RUNNER. I think the scene where the seemingly breathing, humming contraption expands to its functional configuration has had a major influence on the look of many later cyberpunk works.
Oh man, these are good ones! I totally forgot about Pi - it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie. I think I might need to re-watch it again - I used to listen to the soundtrack to that movie quite a bit when it came out.
Also good call on the Alien/s reference! I didn’t think of that as cyberpunk, but it totally fits in with the genre. I especially like Mother’s “control room” in Alien, and both movies have keyboards that use iconography as opposed to letters on the keys (see the self-destruct mechanism as well as the Ops Center in Aliens).
That’s how cyberdecks are described in Shadowrun - the keys aren’t necessarily letters but more like macros that work together. They keys have their own iconography that launches various complex actions. Most of the vanilla text input comes straight from the neural jack into the brain because it’s such a “simple” method of communication.
I kind of envision it as being more influenced by Eastern Asian pictograms that express ideas or concepts as opposed to specific words. This makes a certain sense to me also as the origins of cyberpunk were rife with “Japan Panic” and fascinated specifically with many aspects of Japanese culture.
I mean, a synonym or alternate interpretation of “cyberpunk” could be “sci-fi punk”, yeah? Makes sense that the two genres blend together and overlap.