It’s comforting to imagine that if androids ever become a reality, they’ll just go get tattoos as an act of free will instead of staging a violent rebellion. This may be a completely naive take on our collective romance with technology, but you have to admit that it’s far less foreboding than all the stories about robots rising up and threatening our entire way of life. We humans like our machines subservient, which is what makes narratives about their subversiveness, like that in Ridley Scott’s neo-noir sci-fi flick Blade Runner, so entertaining and unnerving at the same time.
For those who’ve never seen the film, Blade Runner is an adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Both follow the struggles of Rick Deckard — a bounty hunter who tracks down and kills rogue androids, aka replicants. The movie takes place in a decrepit version of Los Angeles filled with some of the strangest figures ever to shoot, crash, and backhandspring their way across the silver screen. Captured through dark and stirring cinematography, the film’s overall aesthetic is so striking that it was only a matter of time before fans started getting tattoo tributes to its characters.
When Blade Runner was released in 1982, it received mixed reviews. It was denounced by some critics, who condemned the pace of its plot and the over abundance of experimental special effects, calling it things like “Blade Crawler” and “science fiction pornography.” Other more forward thinking reviewers, such as Pauline Kael, praised the film, accurately predicting that it would eventually be canonized as a sci-fi classic. In many ways, the movie was light years ahead of its time, far too avant-garde for most mainstream moviegoers during the early ‘80s.
Now, nearing its 35th anniversary with a sequel coming out later this year, Blade Runner has become one of the most widely celebrated dystopian films ever created. Its themes could not be more relevant to our day and age, as we are well on our way to turning our world into a nearly uninhabitable rock overrun with kipple — Dick’s neologism for the trash we produce — and we are edging closer to the advent of artificial intelligence. A widespread exodus to colony planets is not that farfetched of a possibly from our current vantage point. It’s almost the end of the world, which exactly why, just like the escaped replicants, you also should refuse to live like a slave and go get a tattoo of Harrison Ford as Deckard or the text of Rutger Hauer’s famous “tears in rain” monologue for yourself.
To see more tattoos that most people wouldn’t believe, visit these tattooists’ Instagrams. Should you want a portrait of Daryl Hannah, Sean Young, or any of the other actors from Blade Runner on your body, have one of the artists seen here give you a new set of eyes.