Memories of Future Masculine Identities: A Comparison of Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember it for you Wholesale”, the 1990 Film Total Recall and its 2012 Remake

Amaya Fernández-Menicucci


Recent remakes of iconic science fiction films such as Total Recall, far from merely reproducing cultural landscapes from the past, are actively producing new constructions of categories of identity such as gender and sexuality. In particular, in the two filmic adaptations of Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember it for you Wholesale” by Paul Verhoeven in 1990 and Len Wiseman in 2012, memory is a metaphor for the historical accountability of hegemonic masculinity—or the lack thereof. Dick’s original text and both Total Recall adaptations can be read as revisionist approaches to the past through a dystopian vision of the future, which, in turn, is but a projection of present anxieties of masculinities in crisis. A comparative analysis of the amnesiac heroes presented in these three sci-fi texts will thus offer an insight into the way in which futuristic action men ‘recall’ present and past discourses on power. Indeed, memory constitutes the narrative mechanism that allows collective and individual realities to be questioned and re-imagined through the intra-textual and inter-textual references present in the three texts in question.


Masculinity; Science Fiction; Philip K. Dick; Total Recall; Memory

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