Monday, June 15, 2020

without cops, this city would tear itself apart

Why does RoboCop need hands? The key difference between him and ED-209 is that he has a human brain (albeit hindered by programming) in place to allow him a little judgement. Maybe. His programming--and especially the vagueness in his directives--suggests that his human brain isn't necessarily offering him any particular advantage.

And, yes, he can also successfully navigate stairs, but that feels like an ED-209 flaw that would be fairly easy to fix, like maybe it just hasn't come up yet.

RoboCop also uses his ammunition more efficiently.

But, seriously, if RoboCop's technique is to barely offer one warning and then start aiming to main or kill, why does he need fingers, when he could just have guns for arms? Why does he need legs and a police cruiser when he could just have tank treads and could just mow over bad guys just as easily as gun them down?


If anyone can be trained to deescalate a situation rather than turn it violent, it's a fucking cyborg. Except, RoboCop is not about being the ideal cop. His prime directives, for example, are bullshit.
1 - Serve the public trust
This is, of course, a public used to a near-future, hyper-violent city where, unbeknownst to them (but I'm sure they wouldn't be surprised), their civic leaders are working together with criminals. A city where police and criminals are at war with one another. And, ED-209 gunning down an innocent man is written off as a "glitch".

But, RoboCop was doomed anyway because he was stuck in the role of a police officer and even by 1987 that was, other than to the white majority, a problematic role. And, ti's only gotten worse. Serve the public trust? How? By opening fire on a van full of thieves on a public road? Field testing a black man after finding him asleep in his car, then arresting him instead of letting him walk a short distance home and then shoot him when he runs away? Pull guns on unarmed suspects complying with commands? See, it's easy for us to cheer RoboCop because all the criminals in this twisted future Detroit are armed, and they tend to shoot first. It's the same cheap bullshit I was talking about with Dragnet where if you paint the bad guy just slightly bad, the good guy can use whatever force he wants. Not whatever force is necessary. Whatever force he wants.

And, again, RoboCop is programmed, not trained. he can very much be made to deescalate, to arrest rather than shoot. And, it would be something different if when he drifts into being Murphy instead of just RoboCop he was meaningfully better at his job (or left his job to, say, protect the city from the corrupt, necromantic OCP). But, his memories of his wife and kid don't really change the plot going forward. It's just window dressing. An extra science fiction distraction that ultimately has no payoff.
2 - Protect the innocent
Clearly this does not include their property as, for example, on his very first outing, RoboCop damages a cooler that surely cost more than the robber would have gotten from the register.

Second crime, he shoots through the woman's skirt into her mugger's genitals. Nevermind that we have no reason to think (at least at this point) that RoboCop can see through this woman or even her skirt. He risks injuring her and then is impersonal when she runs to him for comfort after. (Plus, destroying genitals feels like a particularly barbaric punishment from a supposedly advanced police officer.)

Third crime, since he apparently can see through things (which might earn a little forgiveness on the previous incident), he knows right where Miller is standing, holding a gun to the Mayor's head, but instead of being consistent and just shooting Miller through the wall, he breaks through the wall, causing Miller to fire his gun wildly--endangering everyone else in the room--and then throws Miller out the window, 1) operating as executioner when there has been no charges, no trial, and 2) putting graphic death in front of not just the people outside but anyone who watches the news that night.

But, then the movie offers us a news report and an ad for Nukem, because in this future, families are entertained by killing each other in horrible, overwrought violence... Which makes sense, actually. We enjoy RoboCop in 1987, we want violence in our homes, we want criminals put down for the smallest of crimes. (Not to imply that armed robbery, mugging, and hostage-taking are small crimes.) But, just check Twitter in 2020 and you'll see what I mean. Protestors don't immediately comply with every fucking thing a cop says, shoot 'em. Someone breaks a window of a store, or God forbid loots something, shoot 'em. We are a sad, pathetic people calling for violence at the tiniest of things, justifying mayhem and death as long as it falls under the umbrella of whatever group we happen to support.

And, our police have tanks, have tear gas, have tasers, and no fucking patience.
3 - Uphold the law
Like deciding a crime is taking place from a distance because Emil is holding a gun while pumping gas. That is not a crime. It's dangerous, maybe. But, the movie does not show us that RoboCop can hear conversation from that distance. But, he arrives, and immediately draws his gun because movie.

Visiting the house where he used to live, he damages property. Out of grief and rage, of course, but does he report it later? Does he make any effort to get the damage fixed? No, he operates above the law, not a cop but an OCP operative. No complicated rules. No coddling criminals. Just, shoot 'em, drag them around by their hair, and nevermind the collateral damage.

Really the problem in the world of RoboCop is that there are no regular people. Just criminals and victims. And every crime is punishable with death.


















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