by Warner Todd Huston
For some strange reason the left-wing Internet site Slate.com thinks that the City of Detroit needs a statue erected to an anti-Christian, anti-American pop icon. That’s right, Slate thinks that Detroit needs to diss Jesus, slam capitalism, and attack the United States of America as an evil, violent nation. Strange recommendation for a city that literally drove America’s capitalist success story, isn’t it?
Well that is precisely what Slate is suggesting in an entertainment feature about raising a Motor City statue to the Hollywood sci fi movie character Robocop. After all, the Robocop movie was a purposeful slam on the United States and Christianity, not some celebration of her genius. This is exactly what the film’s director has said numerous times. Strange that Slate wants to use a character that presents what it claims is bad about America as something worthy enough to which to build a memorial.
For Slate’s Patrick Cassels, a 20-something actor, “Internet enthusiast,” and entertainment writer, announced his support of the statue to the violence-soaked movie icon mostly because it is an attack on “Regonomics” and corporations. But, as if supporting a paean to Marxism isn’t grating enough for building a statue in an American city, he spends no time at all on the anti-Christian theme of the movie.
Regardless a statue to Robocop is a great idea, Cassels asserts. “Robocop,” Cassels claims, “is a great ambassador for Detroit.” He thinks that a Robocop statue has “something important to say about the place and its plight.”
The film, Cassels says, “addresses some of Detroit’s most challenging issues, issues that were pressing in 1987 and remain so today.” Issues like the decay the city has fallen to, its poverty, and its financial doldrums are sharply drawn in the movie. Cassels is, of course, correct about that. But Cassels pinpoints the wrong reasons why these dire circumstances exist in the real Detroit.
Cassels salutes Robocop because it is Hollywood’s “second-best critique of Reaganomics’ devastating effects on the economy of southeastern Michigan.” But that slam on capitalism is great, says Cassels.
As Carrie Rickey writes in an essay for the film’s Criterion Collection DVD, the movie “gleefully satirizes The Great Communicator’s pet doctrines of free enterprise and privatization.”
Sadly, this Cassels fellow, who was not even born during Reagan’s days in office, succumbs to typical left-wing trope. After all, just what party has been in iron-fisted control of Detroit since long before “Reaganomics” were invented? Yes, that’s right: the Democrats. Funny how historically illiterate folks like politically neophytic Cassels ignore those actually responsible for the destruction of Detroit, its homegrown Democrats, while they reach all the way to Washington DC to find fictional culprits. I guess fiction is a fitting subject for an “entertainment” writer, though.
Cassels goes on to praise Robocop because at the end of the flick the character, “defies his corrupt programming, and seeks vengeance against the crooked millionaires bent on sacrificing the city for their personal gain.” He lauds Robocop because even as he was “conceived as a corporate cog” at the end he “recovers his humanity.”
Robocop may not represent Detroit’s happiest or proudest moments, and while Robocop himself is redeemed in the end, his city is still in rough shape. But he is a fundamentally good citizen trying to better his city while struggling against the larger forces of big business, corruption, and poverty forces that he is sometimes helpless against, sometimes even an unwitting part of, but ultimately better than. (He’s like a character from The Wire, with titanium skin.) Robocop is thus the perfect symbol for Detroit, reflecting both the city’s persistent will to revive itself and the dangers inherent in doing so.
Sadly, Cassels ignores the real subtext of what Robocop creator and the film’s director Paul Verhoeven actually meant to convey with his movie. While it is true that Verhoeven meant Robocop to be an attack on American capitalism, he also meant it to be a slam on Christianity and Jesus Christ.
In an interview with MTV in 2010, Verhoeven admitted what he was really trying to get across with Robocop. The underlying symbolism of Robocop, Verhoeven said, was that the character was an “American Jesus” because his method of righting wrongs was to shoot and kill all evil doers. Robocop was judge, jury and executioner all in one. To Verhoeven that makes him the American Jesus.
The point of Robocop is of course that it is a Christ story. It is about a guy that gets crucified after fifty minutes then is resurrected in the next fifty minutes and then is like the supercop of the world. But is also a Jesus figure as he walks over water at the end. He could walk over the water and say this wonderful line, which is basically, em, to Clarence Boddicker “I am not arresting you any more.” Meaning, “I m going to shoot you.” And that is, of course, the American Jesus.
Verhoeven has what he describes as a life-long fascination with the historical Jesus and even wrote a book on the Savior’s life entitled, Jesus of Nazareth.
In his book Verhoeven makes an infamous claim about the life of Jesus. He contends that, while he does believe that he was the son of Mary, Jesus Christ was also fathered by a Roman rapist and is not the result of a virgin birth.
His feelings about the historical Jesus aside, Verhoeven’s chief vocation remains with the film industry and in his work he views America through a left-wing prism. The main purpose of much of his film work is to show this country in the worst light possible. Verhoeven personifies Andrew Breitbart’s thought that Hollywood’s most common goal is to inject bad into this country.
Now Robocop certainly is an enjoyable film. It is fun to see the steel cowboy steadily righting wrongs and eliminating the bad guys. But we cannot forget that the main theme of Robocop is that the U.S. is a bad, destructive place and that it and Christianity are rotten to the core. That main message is Hollywood’s most cherished message, one played over and over again in film after film.
These negative, anti-American and anti-Christian themes are what Slate writer Patrick Cassels is celebrating. Not much of a reason to raise a statue, is it?