NOT SO ALTERED IMPERIALISM
there' s a difference between cyberpunk and cyberpunk.
one hand there's the literary movement, explored in the 60s and 70s by the likes of p.k.d. and fully coming to surface in the 80s, with william gibson getting the most credit for its ignition.
on the other hand there's the aesthetic also born in the 80s with a movie, based on a novel by p.k.d. which apart from dealing with android/human conflict isn't so much cyberpunk at all.
the images of giant ads, city streets soaked in rain and neon all stem from "blade runner". for the lack of of A.I.'s, computer interfaces and the venturing into "cyberspace" via those interfaces "b.r." as well as its sequel are more "bio"- than "cyber" for that matter.
the "high tech / low life" mantra doesn't hold any weight; if pointing to flying cars as high tech, than segments of "back to the future 2" would have to be dubbed cyberpunk as well.
however lets roll into "altered carbon"
season 1 was enjoyable to watch, but nothing original in terms of worldbuilding (megacity, flying cars, giant neon ads and rain all the time); one is quick to label it "cyber" when it just re-ruminates the aesthetic and is really more "bio"; since its source material is dealing with how humanity is coming to terms with the defeat of its oldest biological nemesis:
season 2 steps further away from the novels and builds a storyline on its own.
the most interesting aspect of "stack & sleeve" combinations is being choked after a good 20 minutes, as soon as takeshi is put in a heavily modified, nearly invincible male combat "sleeve".
but i guess this is just how it rolls.
as the show is trying to be political correct as f*+k it however it isn't.
the diversity of cast in terms of race and sexuality (with female homosexuality being a thing of fancy to display, while male queerness still seems to not exist on major outlets) is nice but hey ...
it' 2020 by now.
what lies beneath the surface is an imperialistic, right wing, "humanity is the crown of live" attitude towards the indigenous species of "harlan's world".
being discovered seeping, "genocided" and their remnants exploited for the sake of humanity's eternal life, somehow reminds of a theme of a different show on a different streaming platform;
"hunters" on amazon that is.
the so called "elder" escaping death and finding a way out, according to netflix producers and the protagonists, has no right to seek justice/revenge, and put the invaders, murderers and exploiters of its species to trial and to reclaim its homeland.
after some plot swerves it all boils down to the "kill the alien" mission statement which, no matter how "diverse" the human cast has become, still is way too predominant in, even modern, science fiction.
(for a sightly more intelligent treatment of "alien/human" contact and interaction i point to "origin" on youtube; don't worry... if you keen on cyberpunk aesthetics ....you'll find them there too)
at the end of season 2 unphased from what pile of alien corpses they walk on, it's all business as usual for takeshi and cast, no second thought is spared on how they all can keep doing what they do.
the best of science fiction is about to point at possibilities of coexistence, mutual understanding and to "abuse" the term: respect for life.
"star trek" and "star wars" use the "co- " as a foundation for their worldbuilding;
even if you don't like batty's action in "blade runner" the movie is sophisticated enough to leave room for his longing; making deckard ultimately question his purpose.
marvel flipped the arch evil of the "skrull" in captain marvel making their quest relatable and worth to root for.
altered carbon season 2 despite the best attempts to be "modern", "diverse" and "edgy" feels like a show from the cold war era.