Friday, 30 March 2012

Does Brian Coleman dream of Electric Sheep?

One of my favourite films is "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". Never heard of it? Well you probably know it by the title it was released under "Blade Runner". The Hollywood moguls who made it thought that the correct title from the Phillip K. Dick book would "put people off". The central premise of the film is that in the future, androids will be developed that are so human like, that they are virtually indistinguishable. The only way that they can be separated from the rest of the population is because they "lack empathy". Suspected escaped androids are made to take the "Voight-Kampff" test, where their responses to a whole range of questions are monitored and if they don't respond empathically when situations are detailed where people suffer, they can be exposed. The Voight-Kampff machine (or device) is a fictional interrogation tool, originating in the book where it is spelled Voigt-Kampff. The Voight-Kampff is a polygraph-like machine used by Blade Runners to assist in the testing of an individual to determine if he or she is a replicant. It measures bodily functions such as respiration, "blush response", heart rate, and eye movement in response to emotionally provocative questions.

Last night, I dug out my battered old video, got my takeaway from the Mill Hill Tandoori and watched it. Having quaffed a couple of beers, I fell asleep in the chair halfway through and had a terrible nightmare. I had been engaged by none other than Brian Coleman, to try and expose replicants in Barnet via the Barnet Eye. However as the dream went on, I became more worried that it was a bizarre scheme by Councillor Coleman to expose the Barnet Eye as the work of a lunatic.

I awoke suddenly, when the dog jumped on me, halfway through the dream. I was quite disturbed by the whole thing, until I rationalised that it was the product of too much blogging, too much beer, too much curry and watching too many sci fi films. Then I got to thinking. How would Brian Coleman fair if  he had to take the Voight-Kampff test. How much empathy does he have for his fellow citizens.

In the film, it took Dekker over 100 questions to establish that Rachel "lacked empathy". I think we could establish this for Brian Coleman with three.

Brian, you live in a flat with a subsidised rent, owned by the Methodist Church and supposedly retained for families with financial hardship. You earn £120,000 a year. What would you say to a single mother on benefits, having difficulties paying her rent? (His answer -

Brian, you get a free parking permit, which enables you to park anywhere for free in the London Borough of Barnet. What would you say to traders who are losing their livelyhood  because of the car parking charges you have hiked in the High Streets of Barnet?

Brian, you have used your allowances from the GLA and LFEPA to ferry yourself around the country, racking up charges of thousands of pounds a year, when you get a free travelcard as part of the GLA entitlement. What would you say to disabled people who you wanted to remove travel assistance from?

Now I don't actually think Brian Coleman is an android. Let's face it, if you were going to build a robot, I doubt you'd produce poor old Bwian. It is clear from his many comments that he lacks empathy, so I really wonder what Blade Runner Rick decker would make of him. The twist in the plot of Blade Runner is that Rick Decker is himself and android and doesn't realise it. Perhaps the twist in the Brian Coleman story is that he's a human being and doesn't realise it. I sincerely hope that after the GLA elections in May Brian Coleman has time to reconnect with his innate humanity. If he needs a new job, we will be looking for a Bog cleaner in May for our new venture.


Mr Mustard said...

Blog cleaner, shurely?

LBB said...

Time that Brian was "retired" don't you think Rog?