Thursday, April 21, 2011

They'll Fix You. They Fix Everything

It's no secret that I'm more of a horror guy than a sci-fi fan, but that doesn't mean I never get my future kicks. There's dozens of great movies in my collection that fit the bill, from Alien to Back To the Future and everything in between. And one of the greatest sci-fi franchises the 1980s ever gave us has to be RoboCop.

"This is my BOOMSTI- whoa, sorry there, wrong franchise."

Back in February, there was a tweet that started as a joke about how Detroit, MI should dedicate a statue to the futuristic crime-fighter. The mayor tweeted back with the statement that the city had no plans for one, and a media frenzy was born. Through the fundraising website Kickstarter, individuals started donating their hard-earned dollars to the cause, as the blueprint for the solid metal piece would run about $55,000. When they were about halfway to the goal, an individual donor agreed to match it. It looked like Murphy would literally be standing over evildoers soon.

However, opposition soon rose from Detroit residents. Reportedly less than 10% of donors lived in the area, and several expressed their concern over using the money for what they considered a stupid cause. Also, in the dystopian future depicted in the film, Detroit is shown as a horrible place to live, riddled with crime, homelessness, and inept law enforcement (but to be fair, when HASN'T it been that way?) before RoboCop arrives. 

Despite all this, the statue was being privately funded, so it looked as if the city was going to receive this geek gift whether they wanted it or not. Unfortunately, the brakes have been put on the project for several reasons, chief among them bureaucratic red tape regarding construction and zoning laws. Advocates point out that this would not be the first monument of its kind, as Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky Balboa near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

So, is it a good idea or a bad idea?

Well, I don't know how much my opinion matters, but hey, it's my blog, so let's share! A statue of RoboCop in Detroit is a fantastic idea. Putting aside the obvious geeky joy of paying tribute to a fictional hero, the opposition has missed the point. Fact is, whether in the film or in life, Detroit really is a city with its fair share of problems. RoboCop represents something good, something pure, something that stands for justice and the truth. The tweet that started all this wasn't lying when it said that he'd make a great ambassador for the city.

It's also true that $55,000 could do a lot of actual good rather than just erect a motionless visage of a clockwork police officer that doesn't exist. Still, you can't tell people what to do with their money. If folks want to spend their excess dough on giving the world RoboCop, then the world is going to get RoboCop. They settled on Detroit because that's where the movie takes place. Yes, most of it was shot in Texas, but that's not the point. RoboCop cleaned up the streets of the Motor City, so that's where he should be. How much sense would it make if Philadelphia rejected Rocky and they gave him a statue somewhere in Jersey?

Personally, I'd like to see this trend continue. We should finance several of our favorite sci-fi heroes and plant them across the US. Silly? Perhaps. A waste of money? Well, yeah. But just think about how great it would be to have a constant reminder of someone or something better than ourselves keeping watch over our town squares and highways. People can scoff all they want, but I'm certain that if a larger-than-life RoboCop (crafted in solid metal, mind you) was surveying the scene, crime rates would go down by at least 8%. For crying out loud, just watching the movie kept one guy on the run entranced until the police found him in the theater and booked him.

Bottom line? Serve the Public Trust. Let them build RoboCop.

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