The 'Blade Runner Curse': Corporate Power in America

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How well does this 1982 sci-fi cult film line up with reality?

In 1982, Ridley Scott released the film Blade Runner, which imagined the world in 2019, where corporations dominated everything in our lives. The film portrayed a "gloomy foreboding" of our inevitable future at the hands of these big corporations.

In the film, some real world companies were shown in neon advertisement boards, including big corporations like Coca-Cola, Bell Telephone, Atari, and many others. The movie argued that these companies' rise to power would continue to inevitability, wih them dominating our cultural and economic futures.

But Scott may have missed the curse of the Fortune 500, which is that companies afflicted by the natural rise and fall of the market.

Nothing in this world lasts forever, and that goes for businesses. For instance, Bell Telephone was broken up. Atari, surprisingly having a recent pop-cultural resurgence, is considered a relic of the past.

For all of their corporate power, big corporations are often powerless when it comes to the simple task of surviving! Only 67 of the firms in the Fortune 500 in 1955 were still there by 2011. The rest were lost, like tears in rain.

The real issue is not whether corporations have too much power over our lives, but when those corporations meld with government and work to create laws that benefit themselves at everyone else's expense.

The lesson is that if you're worried about corporate power, don't be afraid of the market, but do be afraid of companies joining with governments to artificially extend their lifespans.

So was Blade Runner right about our future? Will we be dominated by corporate power? Or will there be something else at play, like cronyism and corruption in government?