Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Robocop! [Film School with Maggie Mae Fish]

Robocop! [Film School with Maggie Mae Fish]


Robocop! I used to never really get the “80s.” It just seemed like a lot of cocaine and hair,
but then I saw Robocop, and I saw something more, through that hair. I saw an incredible film. We’ve all heard about its anti-corporate
message, and its ultra-violence. But let’s dig deeper, put on our film school
hats, and ask how the visual grammar, editing, and pacing function in Robocop. Now here’s a list of things I like about
Robocop! The visual match between Lewis and Murphy. From the first moment we meet Officer Lewis,
she’s a visual and symbolic match for Murphy: their hair, their complexion, their build,
and especially their attitude. They’re equals! Murphy and Lewis are two
peas in a pod. Fast forward to the scene where Robocop starts
questioning his past, and Lewis confronts him, we see this shot. Lewis looks directly into the camera, directly
into Robocop’s visor, as she says “Murphy, it’s you.” Because Murphy is looking directly at Lewis,
who is a visual match for him as she fills the frame, she functions as a mirror. She is the “it” with which Murphy is identifying. This is a key moment in Murphy’s quest to
regain his humanity, empathy and identity. It’s incredibly rare for a male action hero
to have an equal female counterpart. Especially because she’s acting as a mirror
for Murphy, and not a fetish object. And does the fact that his mirror image is
a woman mean that Robocop is a trans icon? Not necessarily, but it’s a reading opened
up by this sequence of shots! But in any case it’s a miracle in itself
to see a male action hero identifying with a female peer. The board room long shot. Special effects and cyberpunk are cool, but
this seemingly simple, single, long take–which clocks in at just under a minute–ties the
film’s themes together in one dynamic shot. From Bob Morton’s overly aggressive, overly
loud corporate jockeying; “Don’t mess with Jones, man, he’ll make sushi out of
you.” To Dick Jones describing the friction between
O.C.P. and the C-O-Ps; “They’re union’s been bitching ever since we took over. You know, the usual nonsense.” To the company’s proposed plan for Delta
City which will bring those forces into violent collision… it’s the kind of long take
that you don’t even notice because it’s so seamless and natural. It crams three small scenes into one fluid
shot. I count about twenty actors, hitting complicated
marks, delivering fast paced corporate dialogue. And to top it off, we get a sense of space
in the monochromatic, high tech boardroom. This shot is the beating heart of the film! Michael Bay would need fifteen different edits,
a bunch of fancy graphics, and as many as three different crop tops to tie together
a scene like this! Corporations can’t feel. One weird little tick that this movie has
is the way that Robocop rattles off bizarrely insensitive, out of touch advice when confronted
with innocent people, before he’s come to terms with his identity. He tells these kids “Stay out of trouble.” Oh, great advice, robot bro. Way to vaguely threaten children. Or look at the way he interfaces with this
woman: “Madam, you have suffered an emotional shock. I will notify a crisis center.” Not exactly the emotional support she needed
in that scenario. But it’s a perfect analogue for the way
that soulless corporations are simply incapable of mimicking true humanity. Compare that to how Robocop speaks when he
actually has his mask off. “Murphy had a wife and son. What happened to them?” We see this today, in even subtler ways, with
how fast food companies try to appropriate the language of Weird Twitter. Sure, some people find it cute. But if you’re familiar with actual Weird
Twitter. So next time you see a company tweet out a
meme, I hope you read it out loud, in Robocop’s stiff, goofy voice. Try it at home, with friends and family! Every frame a critique of capitalism? If there’s one shot that perfectly portrays
the in-story relationship between the average people of Detroit, and the people who hold
the power in Detroit, it’s this one. And it’s another example of how Verhoven
uses complicated film production techniques to get across the movie’s complex themes
in striking, simple-to-understand visuals. By using an attachment called a “split-field
diopter,” the subjects on both the right and left side of frame remain in focus, even
though Emil–on the right–is way closer to camera than the gas station attendant, on
the left. But it’s not just a cool trick. It also allows Verhoven to frame the attendant
on the left as small and powerless. He’s trapped behind what looks like a cage,
imprisoned by his job, encased in machinery… an unwitting agent of capital. And on the right? Emil is an imposing figure that takes up more
than half the frame. He’s a fascist blackshirt, figuratively,
and pretty much literally, too–an agent of the same corporate culture that imprisons
the gas station attendant. It only lasts a moment, but what a mind-blowing
shot! Existential question time: What is a cop? I think the movie wants to capture what we
HOPE cops are. What we want cops to be: morally pure, selfless,
heroic. And time and time again, the movie challenges
that hope. We see ED-209, who represents the complete
lack of humanity that cops are capable of. We see it in the collaboration between OCP
executive Dick Jones and the criminals: Bodiker’s gang basically acts like a private little
SWAT team for Jones, executing his corporate agenda. And those same cops who acted as the voice
of reason early on in the movie?… “I’ll tell you what we should do. We should strike.” By the end of act 2, they’re lining up to
blow Robocop away. Some of them voice their concerns. “Hey wait a second!” “He’s a cop, for god’s sake!” But ultimately they cannot escape their position
as enforcers in an unjust system. So what is a cop? Robocop is a cop. ED-209 is a cop. Murphy is a cop. These good cops are cops. This asshole cop is a cop. The bad guy gang members are cops. Overall, the film complicates the idea that
“cops always equal good,” because it understands that cops are human, and humans are historically
known to abuse power. What’s in a name? There’s a really interesting back and forth
in this movie where we see Murphy’s name; we hear Murphy’s name “Murphy! It’s you!” But we also hear Robocop’s name:“There’s
a new guy in town, his name’s Robocop” and see Robocop’s name. So is he Murphy or is he Robocop? Well, he’s both. There’s a lot of doubles in this film: Murphy
and Lewis; Bodiker and Jones; Detroit and Delta City; ED-209 and Robocop… But ultimately, what the movie is saying is:
these distinctions don’t exist the way we want them to. And the final line in the movie, “Nice shootin,
son. What’s your name?” “Murphy.” Followed by the final ROBOCOP title card,
shove that idea right in our face. Binary choices make us feel comfy, in control,
and help us organize the universe. But in reality it’s hardly ever either or. Robocop is trapped between binaries. He is Murphy. But he’s also Robocop. He exists in a space between human and machine;
between employee of the evil corporation OCP, and servant of the public good; constantly
navigating his own identity. Just like you and meeeee! But seriously, Lewis is a badass. I would run slow motion across a field to
be wrapped up in Lewis’s arms. It’s rare you get a well-written female-identifying
character in an action movie, and if this movie proves anything it’s that IT’S NOT
THAT HARD TO WRITE STRONG LADIES, AND ANYONE’S WHO FAILED SHOULD BE ASHAMED. But really, she’s incredibly smart, capable,
funny. She’s just like the women I see in the real
world that I look up to. She also doesn’t ‘shed’ her femininity
like many other 80s action heroes… for example: James Cameron’s female leads, who are his
personal, weird, fetishized ideal of a soldier-mommy. Those characters communicate to the audience
that “femine” means “weak.” They imply that, what a woman really needs
to do, is be more like a traditionally masculine dude. But not Lewis! When Lewis sees Robocop, she knows right away
that something is up with him, because she’s intelligent and doesn’t need a whole sequence
where we see her ‘putting the clues together.’ She knows her partner. She follows her gut. She’s as good a cop as anyone else. Lewis is all lady, all powerful. I mean, she delivers the final blow after
her body is basically ripped apart because that’s just what a fighter would do. Speaking of her body getting ripped apart. This scene is clearly setting up Lewis to
be the next Robocop. Murphy even promises her: “They’ll fix
you. They fix everything.” A Robocop sequel with Lewis and Murphy as
buddy-cop cyborgs would’ve been amazing! I love Lewis. I love their friendship. I love it all. The happy ending exists only because the corporation
allows it to. Here’s a weird thing to ask yourself: who
has true agency in the final climactic scene of the movie? Dick Jones is a rich guy with a big gun. That’s a lot of power. Robocop is a superhuman robot cop with a bigger
gun. That’s a lot of power. And yet, without his hostage, Jones is powerless. And as long as Directive 4 is in play, Robocop
is powerless. “My program will not allow me to acta against
an officer of this company.” In this moment, the CEO of OCP is both the
subject and object of power. He is the object which is held by Jones in
order to exert power, and he is the subject who is able to end this standoff simply by
speaking. By the way, I had to look up what this character’s
name was, because I didn’t want to just call him “The Old Man,” but that is literally
his name in the script, because Robocop is a movie that’s painfully aware of patriarchy. Even at the movie’s climax, it’s not Robocop,
with his super machine body and big boy gun, who holds the power. If the Old Man does not will it, it cannot
happen. Robocop kills the bad guy because in that
moment, it serves the Old Man’s agenda. Which is pretty terrifying, since the Old
Man been running this whole show, and made all the decisions that led to tons and tons
of people getting killed over the past hour and 45 minutes of this narrative. The climactic moment of the movie is not Robocop
shooting Jones. It’s the Old Man saying “Dick, you’re
fired.” But Seriously, Is Robocop a Trans Icon? I mean… If there’s one person that loves finding
different ways of reading films, it’s me. So is there a reading of Robocop as a trans
icon? I think Verhoeven himself would probably say,
hell yeah. And special thanks to Carmilla Morrell for
her personal and academic insights in this section. Verhoeven’s cinematic grammar attempts to
produce a gaze that identifies with women, instead of merely objectifying women. We do see characters within the narrative
objectify women, but these acts of objectification are contextualized to us (the audience) as
ironic, perverse, and absurd. “And you need lots of stimulation, Bobby.” “Yes I do.” We are watching these men watch TV, and we
see them laugh harder than natural, as if they’re performing that enjoyment. They cartoonishly perform cis-normative heterosexuality. The film satirizes gender roles over and over
and over. “Go ahead, shake his hand.” “Come here often?” Showing a violent hierarchy where men aggressively
assert their masculinity on those around them–through violence and mocking laughter, while holding
big, phallic firearms. And amid this violent, comic, hyper-masculine
hierarchy, we meet Murphy, a cop who begins the story desperately trying to perform cis
hetero male identity in order to convince his family that he’s worthy of the titles
“Husband” and “Father.” “And you don’t want to disappoint them.” We see him spin his gun to impress his son,
whose respect Murphy hopes to earn by acting like the famous tough guy action hero on TV. But this desperate attempt to claim masculinity
is continually subverted by the narrative. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a duality
between Murphy and his female counterpart, Lewis, where staring into her face seems to
be a key to reacquiring his own identity. On top of that, at the end of act 1, when
Murphy gets murdered, he isn’t just killed. He’s savagely attacked by a pack of men,
who penetrate his body with their long guns. In fact, if we step back and look at the structure
of Robocop, it’s modeled after classic rape-revenge movies like “I Spit On Your Grave,” where
the female main character is violated. “Your ass is mine.” Then exacts revenge on her attackers, one
after another. “This woman will soon cut, chop, break,
and burn FIVE MEN, beyond recognition.” In Murphy’s quest to chase an external ideal
and become the ultimate tough guy cop, he is transformed, by external forces, into a
cyborg… a hyper-masculine ideal… a form that the authorities have decided he should
inhabit. “Well he signed release forms when he joined
the force. He’s legally dead. We can pretty much do what we want to.” Instead of just becoming the “real man”
he thought he wanted to become, he becomes more than a real man. His new body is a construction of society’s
view of what Murphy’s ideal gender presentation “should” be. He becomes exaggeratedly masculine, as if
he’s been granted his wish, but as part of a devil’s bargain, where he didn’t
quite get what he expected. He’s transformed into a bizarre, shadow
version of his desired self. In fact, he becomes comically and ironically
masculine. The gun he fetishized earlier as a symbol
of masculinity ends up replacing his genitals. His massive weapon is a perfect symbol of
masculinity in a society that respects hyper-violence. As a super-masculine machine, he’s even
got a second phallus: the computer jack that protrudes from his knuckles. And yet, neither of these phalluses function
sexually. They aren’t just non-sexual, but violent
instead of sexual. Robocop’s lack of conventional genitals
is even emphasized, and played as a gag. Murphy’s flashbacks also problematize the
masculinity he hopes to achieve. These flashbacks show Murphy struggling with
his new hyper-masculine identity, culminating in a visual metaphor where he passes through
a female body. At the midpoint of the film, Murphy’s goal
changes from the desire to become this hyper-masculine figure that his son and society wanted him
to be, to answering the question: “Who am I?” In the next beat on Robocop’s journey of
self discovery, we see a “WORLD CLASS HUSBAND” mug on the counter. But it’s shattered, as if someone has violently
rejected that title, and we never see who shattered it. And then we see this photograph from Halloween. Murphy’s son is in costume, but the parents
are not. Or are they? Murphy is performing the role of cis, male,
hetero husband. That IS his costume. And floating over his shoulder? A witch. A grotesque female form, haunting him. Only after we see this Polaroid do we see
the Halloween flashback, for the first time. Murphy’s wife appears to carve a pumpkin. Except she’s not carving it, she’s tinkering
with it, holding the carving tool like a screwdriver, as if she is constructing something… constructing
an identity. Out of a pumpkin! This foreshadows the way that Robocop tinkers
with his own head at the beginning of act 3, drilling into his own mind, and coming
to terms with the loss of his past married life. He’s constructing his identity. In flashbacks, we Murphy’s wife clearly
upset about something. “I really have to tell you something.” Something was wrong with their marriage. It’s fairly vague in the film, but with
the themes of gender and identity so clear elsewhere, it’s a fair reading to suggest
that maybe this fight was because of Murphy exploring their gender or identity. Maybe he wasn’t being “the Man” she
wanted him to be. Before Murphy’s death, Bodiker shouts at
him: “Where’s your partner! Where’s your partner!” This can have two meanings. One of course being his cop partner, Lewis. But the other is his romantic partner. She is no longer there. Later, when Murphy is on the operating table,
we see an image of his wife waving “Goodbye!” This also can have two meanings. One being that Murphy is dying, and she is
saying goodbye. Except, this is memory. So it has already happened in the past. Maybe this is his wife saying goodbye to him
as their marriage is ending. Because Murphy has failed at living up to
her hetero-male ideals for him, just as he failed to do so for his son earlier in the
film. When the flashback of Murphy’s wife is repeated
at the midpoint, it’s also clearly a different version of the memory, a different take. She conspicuously moves her arms in a way
that’s totally different from the other take, and her tone is softer. “I really have to tell you something.” Is this memory corrupted? Or is Murphy re-writing his memory as a version
where his wife accepts him for who he is? Then, after cutting back to Robocop’s visor–in
a series of shots that recalls the scene where Lewis confronted Robocop about his true identity–we
see a memory we haven’t seen before. “I love you.” And unlike the Halloween memory, which is
prompted by a photograph, this memory is new to us, unprompted by sensory input. This female face fills the frame, mirroring
Robocop’s face. She says “I love you,” softly and sweetly,
which is a pretty odd thing for a character to say in a Paul Verhoeven movie, known for
being melodramatic, satirical, and cynical. If–as this series of shots suggests–she
is Murphy’s mirror, then symbolically Murphy is saying “I love you” to himself, perhaps
accepting the female identity he’s been desperately resisting up until this point
in the narrative. We cut back to Robocop, this masculine robot
now shrouded in darkness. The next time we cut back to the wife, we–as
Murphy–enter her mind, and pass through her. This female face–or head, or mind–is a passageway
into something else. Into an empty home. A blank slate. A new beginning. Then, as Robocop continues through the home,
a man’s face, on a computer screen, asks: “Hey! Have you thought it all over?” Have you interrogated your own identity? After passing through the compassionate female
face, Robocop smashes this computerized, mechanized masculine face. Um… SYMBOLISM! So is Robocop simply the story of a cop whose
body is destroyed, and then rebuilt as a machine? Or is it the story of a person whose marriage
was already falling apart… a person whose son was already questioning their masculinity…
a person who attempts to become the epitome of masculinity, and ends up embracing femininity…
a person who navigates their own identity, while society and corporate America violently
force a hyper-masculine ideal on him… a person who, after being forced into a constructed,
metal body, rejects the product name and programming that’s been forced on them… a person who
repeatedly identifies with women? “It’s you!” To wrap things up, Carmilla Morrell writes:
“Cinema is very good at expressing universal ideas, which gender is not. Since one’s own gender is so internal, personal,
dynamic, and often not entirely understandable or consistent… where transgender viewers
often feel the most seen is in body horror and sci-fi films about robots and aliens. Transness on film isn’t lingering genital
shots and staring sadly at one’s own nude reflection. It’s processes: it’s the horror and abjectness
of wrong-body and the turmoil and excitement of transformation, it’s the physical, mental,
and emotional complexities and contradictions that can be plumbed much more effectively
by both filmmakers and audiences with symbolic and allegorical means instead of literal ones.” And honestly I wouldn’t be so adamant about
this reading if I hadn’t just watched Verhoeven’s “Basic Instinct,” which is the story of
a woman who literally needs to hide her phallic object to avoid persecution, because society
doesn’t approve of her personal relationships! You don’t have to read Robocop this way,
but if Donkey Kong can say “Trans rights! Okay!”… why not add Robocop to the mix. Thanks for watching! And a big thanks, as always, to my patrons. We’ve been able to release videos a little
more consistently lately, and that’s entirely thanks to the support from all of you. If you’d like to support, head on over to
patreon.com slash maggie mae fish. Plus, I’m going to have t-shirts soon, so
keep an eye out for those! Save Martha, and until next time: STAY OUT
OF TROUBLE.

100 comments on “Robocop! [Film School with Maggie Mae Fish]

  1. First video of yours that I've ever come across. I'm 0:27 seconds in. And already you have earned a new subscriber.

  2. Not sure if I agree with your interpretation of Murphy’s marriage because she came back in the sequel. Albeit for only one scene just for Murphy to tell her what OCP told him to say That scene leads me to believe they weren’t on the rocks. Otherwise great video. I love this movie.

  3. this is wrong in every way, murphy was just secretly gay and in conflict with who he really was, but had to keep the lie going for his son. way to totally misinterpret the meaning of the movie, SJWs are just the worst.

  4. Very insightful. While a lot of this is wishful thinking, but some aspects really were conscious decisions made to challenge gender norms that I never would have picked up on.

  5. I would argue that the old man is not a villain. His company, ocp, is apparently trying to singlehandedly fix the screwed up city of Detroit. He had good intentions in wanting to build delta city. But Dick Jones is corrupting everything behind his back. Maybe he is getting senile in his old age like they say.

  6. No, just no. Are you ignoring the fact that robocop did not choose to become robocop? And it cost him his family

  7. As a trans woman whose favorite movie of all time is RoboCop, I'm suddenly inspired to acquire a RoboSuit <3

  8. This is a great pulling together of a lot of the threads from critiques I've read. I completely buy this reading of it (The 4th man is more explicit about some of these themes).

    But my god does later Verhoven get misogynistic. I feel like if he'd had full control over this, there would have been like five rape scenes.

  9. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Cops and criminals don't have guns to be phallic. Guns appeal more to men because men have been natural defenders and protectors of property and nations, while women seek men for security because they are generally are bigger, stronger and women are more nurturing for raising children. Robocop is a cyborg so he is trans-human (not transgender) as one of the films themes is what it means to be human. Is your identity your physical self, the mind or technology that you use. But what if the technology altered your thought processes, would you still be human? You say Ripley is taking on a stereotypical masculine role because she is using guns, but Lewis uses guns and Ripley looks after Newt just as Lewis looks out for Murphy. Ripley has no superhero strength to beat up men or fight the aliens with but she is strong mentally, taking on a leadership role, so she is a positive female role model without being unrealistic. Lewis does beat up a man in the police station which might be unrealistic unless he is drunk, frail and/or her police training negates any physical disadvantage.

  10. To me Robocop was both a warning against corporatism (not capitalism) and the continuing devaluation of human life.
    Right at the beginning of the movie we are introduced to the sheer scope of Omni Consumer Products and can easily extrapolate it's influence with the various government agencies.
    In the commercial about the anti theft device we are given a hint as to how little the worth of human life is viewed upon, which is of course expanded upon with the Robocop program.

  11. I'm sorry to say, but you've totally over analyzed this movie. Inserting things/making things up that was never the intention of the script writers. Almost ruined the movie for me,… Almost.

  12. This took a left turn. I really wasn't expecting that. I agree with the number of doubles/ paired characters. You skipped over reganomics, hoodlums talking about venture Capitol and trickle down economics. Good job

  13. Thank you for that the female perspective review of this iconic film. Really, I viewed a lot of them and this was a breath of fresh air

  14. Totally dislike your take on Sara Conor being James Cameron male fetish, She’s a male fetish because she’s not your idea of what strong female character should be? She was a single mom who raised her son to be an elite soldier that lead an army. LOL YIKES.

  15. Robocop is so good that even when completely taken out of context it still works. A perfect movie? Yea. Easily.

  16. "Fascist black shirt"? – Are you leftis slap fascist on everything.. do you really know were from and what fascism is?? Next you will call Hitler as far right
    On the neutral note – you sound like Mila Kunis a bit.

  17. Boddicker's gang are NOT cops! Not even symbolically, not metaphorically. Just because they indirectly work for the same guy who the cops work for. I'll bet they don't even know that. Only Clarence knows they work for Jones. Higaelian dialect.

  18. It was good until you got to the point where he went back to his old home. Completely wrong, you have no idea..

  19. Helen Ripley's strength comes from her sense of motherhood, so I don't know where you got that all Camreon's female characters are defeminized.
    Besides that, great insights into Robocop, thanks. You put words on things I always felt but couldn't pinpoint. And also on things I never thought of before.

  20. Jesus, talk about making a mountain out of a mole hill.

    The film is clearly about resurrection and a reflection of 1980's capitalism.

  21. Having seen this 80s movie through a 2019 feminist and SJW lens, I've noticed some more things.

    Although racially diverse, Clarence Boddicker's masculine crew had no female members. It is left to the audience to decide whether Clarence is a misogynist for not employing women or he likes women and sees them as perfect and incapable of committing heinous crimes.

    When ED.209 shoots Kenny in the board room, the "glitch" was actually a secret programme to kill Bob Morton as Dick Jones had a crush on Kenny and was jealous of his closeness with Bob.

    In the scene where Murphy is twirling his gun in a masculine manner, Lewis is seen exiting a cafe with two cups of coffee, this implies that Murphy doesn't have enough cash till payday to buy his own coffee and also he always expects women to bring him beverages from the kitchen.

    When female identified officer Lewis apprehends the urinating masculine crew member (Joe) in the steel mill, he says to her "mind if I zip this up?", she briefly glances down at his masculinity tool, this implies that she is sexually attracted to that part of men and wanted what she couldn't get from her married masculine partner Murphy (bear in mind that due to the patriarchy, a woman cannot objectify a man even when she is objectifying a man). While she is distracted by the criminal's masculine weapon, he punches her (not because she is a woman but because she is a cop).

    In order to not offend left handed and/or left wing people, masculine Clarence blew off masculine Murphy's right hand with his shotgun.

    When the masculine robber in the convenience store shouts "F*CK ME!, F*CK ME!, F*CK ME!" at masculine RoboCop, it challenges the cyborg's heterosexual masculine programming, this offends the metal cop which causes him to bend the barrel of said robber's gun, this is to emasculate the robber as the gun was a representation of the robber's manhood.

    RoboCop doesn't carry handcuffs due to the fact he never actually arrests criminals, because of his violent and toxic masculine mindset he shoots, stabs and punches them to death even for the most harmless offences like dropping litter.

    RoboCop's phallic data spike was intentionally designed to extend from his hand rather than his groin area as it would make his colleagues uncomfortable if he were to enter information into a computer from his lower region or use it as a stabbing weapon. (bear in mind a data cable would be inconvenient as it could become easily tangled or snagged in a dangerous situation)

    When Emile's skin is melted by the toxic waste, his masculine friend (Leon) hears his cries for help but pushes him away due to toxic masculinity.

  22. Very interesting and engrossing interpretation. Didn't realize there was yet another layer to Robocop. Thank you.

  23. Some valid points….but I think you go a little too deep into some of the scenes and see something that's not really there…

  24. Hello
    You bring up alot of vaild points in your video , however I have one problem with the Lewis as you say "knowing her partner", this doesnt sit well with me seeing how there were only partners for like a day. Other then that ….. nice video
    Thanks
    Shibby

  25. RoboCop is about losing Humanity, not gaining Womanity. Being a Woman isn't less. And that's all you're insinuating with this vapid review. Such an insult to Transwomen. Please, stay in Filmschool and learn to see the actual narrative right front of you before going off on tangents.

  26. Murphy is looking for the thing that was taken away from him, his humanity. What he lacks as a brutal killing machine is gentle kindness, he find this depicted by the women in his life.

  27. The best part of this AWESOME movie is Kurtwood Smith! He stole every scene. Kudos to Rob Bottin's badass design! Dead or alive, you'll dig this flick.

  28. The trans theme seems like a stretch to me, but if one of my favourite movies of all time is even deeper than I thought, and more people can enjoy it on another level, that is awesome. I mean, I don't think I ever noticed that boardroom scene is one continuous take.

  29. I think that you need to go deeper, the writings of John Zerzan critiquing post modernism and its welcoming of the cyborg future. Please explore these and also the overall techno fetishism (technophilia, an infantile disorder by Bob Black is also a decent treatise). Add to this the concept of poor white women getting their eggs removed in a painful process combined with a gay husband's sperm, placed in a third world woman's uterus, not much fun involved there either I imagine. Nothing against gay people having children, but there are human children in abusive situations that need loving people. But the old man has the money, all of these things can be bought.

    Now the technology of transgenderism, children being put on hormone suppression drugs when they might need them for their entire lives will give handsome profit to the pharmaceutical industry. Ongoing counseling gives money to the professional class of psychological doctors. I'm not saying that I have all of the answers. I am asking that we collectively as a society should debate these issues. That we not just assume that better living is always through technology. So yes this film hints at the very near future and allows the viewer to ask, "Do I really want a 6000SUX?"

  30. This video is an example how people can find whatever meaning they want to in film if they look hard enough. Even if it is completely wrong.

  31. I agree with your take on feminism in this movie, but your take on James Cameron's movies is just dead wrong.

  32. Fascinating analysis. The talk of duality reminded me of the "Robocop is a Symemtrical Film" article that lays out a really interesting fact about the film's overall structure. It certainly helps to buttress this particular reading.

  33. So goooooood until the trans approach, those arguments trying to be valid just "a fortitori" or "a casualitas".

  34. I'm not sure if Robocop would really descend into that abyss of transsexual Murphy. But I do agree that he's trying hard to fill up to the clown-size shoes society expects him to wear. You can even see Murphy being a slender type guy like John Dorian from Scrubs is not the typical white male. He's the try hard wanna in a workplace full of jock type masculine type of collegues. Even Lewis seems to be more of a tough kinda guy than Murphy. And from the second movie I remember the transformation into a machine cop only worked with Murphy, maybe because it gave him what he needed to be to be this role model.

    Usually it gets deeper than that. When i was 13 years old my father collapsed on the stairs of the Cologne cathedral and was revived by paramedics. Before he realized what actually happend there was no time to comprehend he had heart surgery and received 5 coronary bypasses. Until his death in 2012 he felt violated by what has been done to him, although the procedure saved his life and gave him another 17 years to live.

    So imagine what it's like for someone to be completely stripped of his former body after being killed in that horrible act …

  35. I love the trans-reading!!!! It also makes the choices of names so obvious; Robocop's name is Alex Murphy, both names that can fit both men and women but are more often used for the latter.

  36. mind blown: I've seen RoboCop about 30 times and it NEVER occurred to me how Murphy and Lewis are "designed" to look alike.
    Wow.

  37. When I started coming to terms with my gender, and deciding that I would transition, I looked back at my childhood and realized how much it meant that Sarah Kerrigan from Starcraft was my favorite character of all time. What it meant that I had related to her, and her transformation, so much.

  38. If you are thinking 'don't you mean transhumanist?'
    …this would imply Murphy had a say in the matter.

  39. Wait…so…Basic Instinct can also be read as a trans metaphor in the other direction? …methinks there needs to be some more breakdowns of this…

  40. Great video.
    While I agree with all the bits about Murphy losing masculinity, I don't know how much he embraces femininity. He seems to become gender-neutral.

  41. Murphy/RoboCop, by film's end, favored the human side, the Murphy side, more, hence the final line being "Murphy," one of the more uplifting concluding lines I have ever heard. He was essentially reclaiming himself with just a one-word sentence.

  42. Great vid. Correct me if I'm wrong but you didn't once mention the terrible remake. Thanks for that lol.

  43. I always took the "second phallus" as simply being a middle finger or in other words Robocop is subverting his programming and engaging with the system in a way that serves his personal needs rather than the needs of the collective. We see him attempt to reconcile his duality throughout and these acts of resistance through the machine is the human element expressing itself.

  44. Maggie… my hero! Now I’m going to have to Robocop voice every piece of corporate slop in my media trough. If I’m going to be force fed gendered subliminal messaging, I might as well make it more palatable with some form of agency by injecting humour. Gobble gobble.

  45. Not trying to be a dick here, but it's wild to me that you can watch Aliens and come away with the idea that Cameron thinks that female strength comes from abandoning womanhood to act like a man. He's specifically saying the opposite – that's the whole purpose of the Vazquez character. They even have Hudson ask her if she's ever been mistaken for a man to really drive the point home. She's the most aggressive and violent member of the space marines.

    Meanwhile, Ripley's strength comes not from the masculine instinct to destroy, but in her embracing of her mothering instincts (you could certainly question the progressiveness of this message today in 2019, but for 1986, it's pretty good). She becomes strong to protect Newt. The film's iconic image is of Ripley holding Newt on her hip with one arm, and brandishing a flame thrower with the other. The climactic fight is between the two mothers (Ripley and the Alien Queen)!

    I thought the Robocop stuff was great, but I had to comment on this, as it's an issue I've considered extensively.

  46. This was great. When I first saw this movie, even though I knew no one openly gay or trans, this felt like it was more about Murphy dealing with something internal than just struggling to recapture his memories. Walking through his wife that way made no sense otherwise.
    Much food for thought here.

  47. I see! So genderless politics are pushed to prep us for a society where people will be replaced by robots? Now it makes sense!

  48. Completely disagree about that dumb shot at James Cameron. I have never once thought he was trying to marginalize femininity, in fact this is the very first time I have EVER heard someone say that. You're equating guns too strongly as masculine… which is pretty insulting to men, actually. A woman can use a gun without symbolizing the masculine, she can just be a strong woman, which is how virtually everyone else sees those roles. It's a ridiculous interpretation and reading something into the narrative that doesn't exist, much like the rest of the video about the male and female identity in Robocop. It's not actually there and stretching way too far in order to fit an agenda. It's like saying that because the alien queen is female, he's telling you that all women are monsters, right, right? No, stop being ridiculous.

  49. Another reading of Robo's "they fix everything" line comes from the dialogue spoken by the desk sergeant – shortly before Lewis' introduction – about Murphy "suddenly" being transferred from a safer district to the high-risk area where Boddicker and co are located: OCP deliberately put him in harm's way because he was flagged as a candidate for the Robocop project and if he died on duty, his body became company property.

  50. I'm a transwoman. Robocop was one of the three movies I had on VHS as a young trying-to-be-a-boy. I watched it so many times I can practically quote it from memory. I considered it a struggle about finding an identity apart from the ones that were forced upon you by family, society, and (literal) programming. I didn't catch the mirroring with Lewis or his wife. I saw it mostly in ED-209 which was incapable of questioning its role or making independent decisions. It was Murphy's humanity that made him able to change, to discover his true self and embrace it. And he was nearly destroyed for it. I never saw it as a "trans narrative", but definitely one about transformation, acceptance, and growth. I may need to go back and watch it again now that I've transitioned. Maybe I'll see something I never let myself see before.

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