Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Of Leather Wasps and the Inevitable Sex Component: Cyberpunk Heroines in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Other Fiction




“Damaged, cyberpunk heroine”, “bisexual cyberpunk avenger”, “horny, cyberpunk hacker”… these are your Google results for Lisbeth + Salander + Cyberpunk, as featured in film reviews courtesy of Movieline, Telegraph, and the increasingly horny and irrelevantRolling Stone (not a fan of the latter, sue me.)
But I am a fan of la protagonista cyberpunk, that bad ass mutha hacktivist/erotic dynamo, who wields her personal traumas as revolutionary fuel rather than continue breast-feeding a chauvinistic society by posing her pierceless, inkless, and character-bereft/Barbie body type (typically while naked but for elongated reptiles or butchered mammalian follicles) so that the dominant gender of the world might beat off before buying whatever alcoholic beverage the Kardashians are pimping and illegally squander finances that don’t belong to them.
Curiously, only a handful of non-film review, Googleable commentary make the connection thatThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander is cyberpunk.  So what is a cyberpunk exactly?  Those of you who frequent Acceler8or or have partied with RU would know this already, but another search of ye ol’ engines will find you transhumanism virgins the following definitions:
*  ”…hackers, rockers, and other cultural rebels, clinging to a cult of individualism in a culture characterized by corporate control and mass conformity. [Those] adept at appropriating the materials of popular culture and making them speak to alternative needs and interests… [who] also know how to tap into the vast digital database to access information about corporations and their secret conspiracies, or to spread resistant messages despite powerful mechanisms of top-down control.”  
* “…marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life [is]  impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.”  
*  ”[individuals that are] manipulated, placed in situations where they have little or no choice…anti-heroes who call to mind the private eye of detective novels. This emphasis on the misfits and the malcontents is the “punk” component of cyberpunk.”
 “[those who embrace and express the] “dark” ideas about human nature, technology and their respective combination in the near future.”  (This particular site goes on to clarify that: “Clearly, Cyberpunk is not an exact concept. Its meanings vary.”)
So from this we might conclude, a cyberpunk is something of a morphable, hacktivist samurai, enhanced by metal for cosmetic effect and/or simply to exist as more efficacious meat in a world controlled by abusive, self-interested CEO’s.  Not entirely dissimilar to the world we already inhabit.  How lurid indeed.
Fortunately, cyberpunks embrace the lurid —  Lisbeth Salander, in particular, with her dark clothing, dark past, and dark hair (though she’s a natural ginger). Her creator, Stieg Larsson, describes Lisbeth as a 24 year old woman with the stunted body of a primal adolescent, who nonetheless moves with the focused speed of a tarantula and who can successfully integrate amongst neurotypicals when necessary.  I could remark on his further description of her as “Asian-looking” as being redundant to having said she resembles a perpetual teenager, but that might make me sound like the racist I sometimes am.

1 comment:

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