Wired Magazine: Orientalism, Cyberpunk 2077, and Yellow Peril in Science Fiction

GEORGE YANG CULTURE12.08.2020 06:16 PM

Orientalism, Cyberpunk 2077, and Yellow Peril in Science Fiction

Cyberpunk as a genre, and Cyberpunk 2077 the game, are both rooted in a type of other-ization that can’t be ignored—but it can be examined.

2020 HAS BEEN one of the most tumultuous years in recent memory, but at least, in a few days, the most anticipated game of the year will come out. That game, Cyberpunk 2077, has already drawn both praise and criticism, but one of those criticisms is of how it handles different cultures—especially Asian culture, which is inextricably tied to the cyberpunk genre.

The Origins of the Cyberpunk Genre

The origins of the cyberpunk genre involve Western anxieties about the East. Techno-orientalism is the use of Asian aesthetics in cyberpunk, futuristic, and dystopian settings. There is a long and deep Euro-American tradition of using Asian symbolism such as neon signs with Japanese and Chinese lettering to express those feelings about what the future holds, including globalization and the threat of a takeover from the East.

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