Robocop: Technology’s Impact on Human Beings
Introduction Paul Verhoeven’s Robocop is a science-fiction that highlights the societal concerns of America in the 1980s. The film depicts a futuristic Detroit setting that experiences a soaring crime and economic slump. Robocop is a captivating narration about the life of an assassinated police officer, Alex Murphy, who is restored to life as a cyborg to enforce the law for the benefit of a corrupt organization. However, the corporation willingly breaks the same law to guarantee its business agenda. The film encompasses many things that concern humanity, thus making this moving picture relevant to this day. On the one hand, the movie might be a Christian tale of the Resurrection that is disguised as science fiction. On the other hand, this film is an exploration of the human identity in a period of swift technological advancement since it also demonstrates a philosophical perspective on the nature of humans.
The Portrayal of Technology in the Film In its absolute postmodern nature, Robocop is a terror film that displays the advanced world of simulation and complex technology. The film’s main character represents the mechanization of the human body (Best 47). Murphy is the imaginative expression of the new human techno-bodies which are half-metal and half-flesh. The cyborg is a totally new creature that is subjected to routine television x-rays. Moreover, it is a video creation whose body is modified into some kind of operational screen that is illuminated within the dynamics of complex communication systems. The character of Robocop explicitly shows how humans have turned obsolete and disposable things in more viable and cost-effective solutions. The film reinforces the notion that technology is changing very fast and leaving humanity behind.
Robocop sparks a strong awareness of the modernist condition among humans by articulating the fear of a totally rationalized, alienated, and a technical world where people’s bodies are mechanized artificially for various purposes. These new humans lack emotions and personal identity, have their ego ruined, and witness the perfection of simulation (Best 52). There is a two-pronged fear in this film, namely when humans start to worry about being replaced by robots through automation processes, and where they fear that they would be transformed into machines. Both developments portend the extinction of natural life in its breakdown with cybernetics. Murphy’s homecoming scene depicts this gruesome amalgamation lucidly. As he crosses the door of his previous self, he does not confront his family’s lively warmth, but the crisp technological presence of an automated salesperson directs him around the customized environment. Overall, the film addresses a message of human fear of new technologies and future of automated operations.
The film also portrays a wide range of technological predictions. Robocop premiered the concept of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) for tracking purposes (Best 53). The Omni Consumer Products (OCP) company floats above the film alongside the technology as it views and considers the cyborg as an inhuman byproduct of the corporate world. The OCP warranted Murphy’s pacification of criminal activities in Detroit, which later introduced the tracking of commodities and people. With reference to Robocop, the OCP installed a high-tech tracking system on Murphy so that it could monitor his movements, which is close to the modern-day GPS systems. In addition, the cyborg’s armor comprises a strong synthetic fiber called the Kevlar, which makes it almost indestructible. The Kevlar is so effective that it is used by the modern police officers to protect them from bullets, sharp knives, and slugs. All in all, Robocop has encouraged technology companies to develop new useful systems for humanity, thus fulfilling the future predictions made in the film.
How the Film Defines What Constitutes Humanity Robocop is the exact emblem of the postmodern state of humans and their new bodies, which symbolize an emergent form of an increasingly technologically mediated type of subjectivity. The cyborg depicts the waning effect, which does not necessarily imply the literal absence of emotions but a decline in the relativist dynamics of feelings. In a robotized life-world, humans possess mechanized emotions. People deteriorate into a locked machine-like cycle, which is characterized by a sharp decline in affection (Best 54). For instance, Robocop’s expressionless gazes through the video screen correspond to the viewer’s dull stares into it. Overall, lack of natural human emotions in cyborgs demonstrates a huge disadvantage of a future technological world. The cyborg Murphy portrays not just the decline of affection but the human body’s mechanization. He is the imaginative expression of the new human techno-body, which is half-metal and half-flesh. Therefore, the robot cop illustrates the deep human awareness of their new postmodern state. The film propagates the human fear of a totally rationalized, alienated, and a mechanized world where people are technically processed alongside their body parts, thus lacking emotions, egos, and personal identity as simulation draws close to perfection (Best 51). For instance, there is the scene where the metaphysically estranged and lonely robot cop smashes the television’s screen with his fist in defiance to the reified world in which he has to fulfill the assigned duties. Apart from dramatizing the dehumanization of unlimited technological advancement, Robocop resists postmodern fatalism. For example, Jean Baudrillard, a cultural theorist, refers to the cyborg as a Subject that has lost against the Object (Best 48). Therefore, it should surrender and welcome fatal consequences.
While the film portrays a mechanized, hyper real, and post-catastrophic world, it also shows that technological advancements cannot result in a totally enclosed entombment. Simulation strategies are not automatically translated into success, and the human subject cannot be easily erased. The utopian fantasies of human nature are, however, revealed through Murphy’s struggle to comprehend who he is and what befell him, his conviction against technological remedies, and his protest against his bureaucratic corporate creators (Best 49). In the film, humanity seems to disappear when the cyborg dramatizes its resilience in the midst of the most subjugating conditions while attempting to find a value and meaning in a corrupt postmodern world (Best 49). Consequently, the dystopian forecast of an extremely alienated future align with a blissful hope for redemption and spiritual survival. The Depiction of Technology as a Philosophical Perspective on Human Nature Robocop also offers a robust critique of the capitalistic human nature, which is considered to be inhuman, ruthless, and corruptive to the society. The theme of capitalism is depicted in the characters of Boddicker, Jones, and Morton. Another critique refers to the technology since it is seen to be out of control. Throughout the movie, viewers are introduced to the human attempts at conquering nature albeit with little success. The multiple ED-209 technical failures, the SDI space center’s power lapse, the restoration of the cyborg’s memory and previous identity are some examples of the movie's critique of the misconception that technology is a perfect cybernetic manipulation of human nature. In one scene, the cyborg tells his female partner that, “They will fix you. They already fixed everything.” At this point, it is, however, evident that “they,” the technocrats, are unable to mend everything (Best 50). Robocop, therefore, satirically invalidates the technocratic ideology.
- Quote paper
- Oliver Tumbo (Author), 2020, About Paul Verhoeven’s "Robocop". Technology’s Impact on Human Beings, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/966974