Back in the 80's Paul Verhoeven made a sci-fi movie that was so absurd it shouldn't have worked. But with great writers, actors, and effect people 13 million dollars and probably some cocaine ( it was 1987 after all), Robocop was a successful hit. So naturally, a franchise was born, another R-rated bloody franchise that somehow still made kids toys and video games.
Jokes aside, years down the road, I rewatched the first three films and realized that despite it being satire. The films hit a lot of nails on the head for issues going on in our current society. Especially when it comes to policing, corporations and Gentrification, so let me go down this rabbit hole and show a movie series from 1987-1993 that showed us everything wrong with what's happening now.
In the first film, we meet Alex Murphy, a cop that has been transferred to a rougher precinct in Detroit. The police force has recently been purchased by a private corporation Omni Consumer Products. This same company has a plan to get rid of the tougher part of the neighborhood and rebuild the city in its own image. But how?
Meet DIck Jones; he's a vice president at OCP and is the number 2 guy there. He has his hand deep inside Detroit's crime, destroying the neighborhood with drugs and violence. But, on the other hand, he's the one responsible for making money for the company by owning the police, making profits for prisons, selling arms to the military, and his cohorts in crime.
Speaking of Cohorts.
The police being so outmanned and outgunned when they're not being killed in the line of duty, the duty they are talking about going on strike. On top of that, OCP has implanted their own officers who directly take orders despite the law.
Remember Dick Jones? He's not worried about the cops going on strike cause he plans to replace them.
The ED 209, which is built to go to war on foreign soil, Jones wants to put in the streets. Except for one small problem. It can't register if someone is not holding a weapon or not.
Innocent unarmed man getting killed. Luck has it; another guy has an idea for a plan B called the robocop program. They can have one up and running in 90 days. They need a candidate since they own the police now; all they have to do is wait. Clarence is out on the streets running wild, and not enough cops to taking him down, only a matter of time until a cop drops. With a fresh-faced cop in the rougher streets, it was inevitable that Alex and Clarence cross paths. Murphy didn't have a chance.
His first day in the rough streets and he didn't make it out alive. OCP sees it as a new guinea pig. After three months, millions of dollars, and a memory wipe. There was no Alex Murphy; there was only robocop.
Armed with a huge gun and a list of prime directives, he hits the streets
. Look out cause the fourth one is a killer.
He hits the streets and does such a good job he pisses off Dick Jones and the OCP cops. It reaches ahead when he has the inventor killed. Meanwhile, Robocops' memory wasn't completely deleted. He ends up remembering everything he lost and remembers who killed him. Finding Clarence makes him talk; he gives up on Jones. When he goes to arrest him, his body begins to shut down.
. Dick Jones added directive four to his programming so that if he tried to arrest him, he would shut down. Think about all the times that police officers have gotten away with murder cause the justice system is so insulated.
Rodney King was beaten on camera by police officers. The cops were found not guilty.
The biggest lesson I got from this: the dirtiest criminal on the street is just as bad as the worst CEO.
The sequel takes place a few months later. Murphy has new armor and a tech team that recognizes him as a person and not a product, unlike his corporate overlords, who have halted and docked the police pay. Yes, the strike that happened in the last movie is still happening now, but because they are the police, they still have some out there working while others are on the picket line.
Meanwhile, the streets have gotten worse; there's a new crime lord in town named Kane.
He created his own drug that has swept the nation called NUKE. His reach is so far that he even has cops on his payroll. I usually would despise a corrupt cop. But in this case, I'm willing to give some leeway due to the cut pay that OCP has put on the force. But there's one cop who you can't buy.
Robocop does what he does best; he goes after the bad guy. He's just a guy, right? Maybe he has a few goons. It should be easy.
It didn't go well.
Meanwhile, at OCP, they are still planning to build Delta Cita over the ghettos of Detroit, But first, they want another cyborg on the street cause it makes the company look good. After showing what they worked on, which was riddled with failure, their newest team member suggested who to choose for the program.
This is Dr. Fairfax says we need to expand our search to find candidates because some cops' brains cannot handle the transition. Meanwhile, she has a few ideas on the current robocop.
They put him back together but want to add things to his prime directives. Those four rules were learned about in the first one. So she takes it to a focus group. This is a pretty messed-up moment. These folks wanted to add all this arbitrary stuff to his programming; he literally can't function.
They added all these things to his programming that has nothing to do with his original purpose. Now I give police a lot of harsh criticism as a black man in America. How can I not? But when this one policeman at a press conference pointed out that they get called on to handle things that are not in their job description, let alone something they haven't been trained for. Police have been called on to handle the mentally ill. In some cases, the situation was handled properly, and in some cases, people have been shot and killed. Some precincts are beginning to have a separate department just to handle those calls. In Robocop's case, they gave him so many rules which he could not properly function; he had to electrocute himself just to get back on track.
His own personal sacrifice swayed the picketing officers to work for the greater good and take Kane down. They took Kane into custody but he's in such bad shape he may not make it to trial.
Meanwhile, Dr. Fairfax cannot find a good candidate for robocop 2. After looking at all the police candidates, she decided to alternate route: criminals and Guess who she thinks will make a great cop. They scoop out his brain and put him into a monster of a machine. Kane is fully aware of what's going on and welcomes the power, but his addiction to his own drug consumes, and Fairfax promises to give him all the drugs he wants as long as he does what he's told. A lot of officers have been involved in the harassment, assault, and murder of everyday citizens. Some officers have been proven and time and time again, that they were not even qualified to be out in the field with a gun in the first place. The officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice should have never been on the force in his personal file during weapons training. He had a "loss of composure" that his supervisor said there no amount of training that can fix this. There are officers who literally have been caught drinking or taking drugs on duty, and when they get caught, they just resign and become a cop in the next county or city. They are often referred to as Gypsy Cops. Even as this is being written, the nation has two polarising incidents where one officer "accidentally" shot someone with their gun. The other has police escalating the situation where an enlisted soldier is told he should be afraid while weapons are drawn on him as he sits in his car at a gas station, afraid to get out. The fantasy and reality get a little hazy. Sure we're not equipping officers with military styles weapons.
Well, at least we're not putting their brains into robots, right?
I think it would be best if I end it here. I think I got my points across. There shouldn't be corporations trying to make money off prisons. They shouldn't have so much financial reach that they can surpass the government and make their own rules. The police need to be overhauled and reformed across the board. The fact that you can't even find accurate data on how many people the police kill every year is disturbing. Police Accountability needs to stop being a cool concept and become a reality. The job of a cop is a very serious job and should be handled by people who can respect the responsibility. It's not "a few bad apples"; it's the whole farm if you ask me. It's not impossible, and we can do it; we're human, after all.