I ♥ Robocop

[NOTE: My last full post for 2014. Happy Holidays and see you in 2015!]

Phew! Finals, amirite? Semester out of the way, kids stay home instead of stinking up your classroom, vacay in full effect! Aaahh…

Now that you’re ensconced in your house coat, fuzzy slippers and baggy sweats (or muu muu, depending on your climate), put Robocop on! “Why, Von?” you are clearly asking.

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Let me serve for you in this post (maybe in life?) as your personal techno-philosopher. You guys know how much of a technophile I am, and you know I extol the virtues and sins of technological determinism whenever I’m up for it. Robocop is a very graceful interlace of two Digital Age explorations, technological innovation at the expense of human interaction and a free-willed spirit coming to self-actualization technologically. I’ll explain.

Alex Murphy is another Detroit cop doing his business, but crime prevailed, costing him his physical state. We experience a conversation between minds, Michael Keaton representing Innovation and Gary Oldman representing Reason. (As an aside, you know when Gary Oldman’s in a movie, you really can’t go wrong!)

Beautifully, these two argue the merits of utilizing Alex in this ‘Robocop’ capacity. Reason starts with the surface: Alex is a father and a husband and, with modern technology, can still fulfill these roles which are near and dear to him. Under the surface, Reason argues that Will, particularly, the will to exist, is much stronger than the high-tech body frame Alex inherits. You can literally strip a human being down to his cortex and shooting arm, yet the Spirit remains.

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Innovation argues, quite rightly, that less human lives are lost when technologies are engaged to combat crime. Without letting hubris get in the way of his decision making, Innovation asserts that the human component cannot be manipulated or imitated; there has to be a human factor in combating crime. This position tells me this guy wouldn’t be a proponent of drone technology used in the battlefield.

Innovation upholds the caveat that, if we are engaging in human activity, technologies are purposeful only when they enhance, not replace, the human experience. Giving a hug, slapping a face, these are forms of communicating that are more efficacious than receiving a carbon-fiber hug or robot arm slap to the face.

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Obviously, this is an action film, so they can’t spend too much time waxing over the merits of hybrid human-robot technology, but damn, in those carved out moments, they sure got the message out right. Watch for the combat simulation scene after Alex’s dopamine levels are lowered to non-existent. What Michael Keaton’s character says to the woman as they discuss the human component of this new tool is gonna give you goose bumps!

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While this reboot retains the authenticity of the original, it’s more relevant to the world we live in now. Whereas the first Robocop was a futuristic look at things-to-come, here we’re examining things-that-totally-are-happening.

Of course, yes, Robocop is not an actual thing, but we do currently have military service men and women working with cyberkinetic teams to enhance their serviceability. It’s crazy to think someone would get their leg blown off, replace it with a robotic one, and still want to engage in combat after such trauma, but, yeah, that’s technological sophistication merging with free will in full affect!

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And finally, Joel Kinnaman is not hard to admire. I fell off on “The Killing” but that’s where I first remember meeting that Scandinavian devil, and man, for a Swede, he sure pulls off Detroit well! The accent, the mannerisms, is pure D, and guys from the D, well…they hold a special place in my heart. 🙂

While you earn your respite, please check out this hilarious interview Joel Kinnaman did to promo the movie when it first came out. You’ll never unknow his Uncle Scotty story after you watch it! Daily Show with Jon Stewart Interview with Joel Kinnaman

Happy vegging out!

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