Let's get this out of the way first, it appears that we will get the cherished desire of the masses, a RoboCop statue. The people have spoken. Very specifically, some guy who owns an energy drink company in San Francisco named after Omni Consumer Products (they would be the giant corporation that built Robocop in the movie) kicked in $25,000, which pushed the project over the funding level.
Thanks to everyone who commented on the previous post. There are really some great thoughts in there and I encourage everyone to take a moment to glance over them.
This has been a really fascinating debate. And I do want to emphasize that - at least for those of us here in Detroit - it's been a discussion, not a battle. Some of you in the comments section there really got a little carried away, and I think you should have a drink (nothing involving energy drinks though). Maybe a valium. Maybe both. I had a long chat with Jerry Paffendorf of the Imagination Station the other day that was fully casual and friendly, and what I really got out of it is that - at least from my perspective - this is about different priorities.
First off, at the end of the day it's just a Robocop statue. It's not going to save Detroit and it's not going to ruin Detroit. I still personally feel it is one of the dumbest ideas I've heard in a long time, but that's just me. I will be annoyed when I see it and that's the extent of it.
The things that rankle me the most are the permanence and the placement. A cast metal statue isn't easily removed when people get tired of the joke (unless it it scrapped, of course). And there is something about taking a joke to a $50,000 extreme that really speaks to the question of priorities. I am aware that the Imagination Station folks are open to placing the statue someplace else but as of this moment, the proposed location is still on the edge of Roosevelt Park. I have a very hard time with the idea that any neighborhood in Detroit should have to be home to a RoboCop statue. I guess that's what you get when you let in hipsters. Cue gentrification arguments in three ... two ... one ...
And other issues lay where they always have with this blog - about lowered standards, and trying to raise expectations. I think the "it's art" argument is spurious, it is at best a monument to a Hollywood movie, and quite frankly for a much more appropriate location consider the Hard Rock Cafe or a shopping mall. You can call me an elitist but I've been called worse.
From Jerry's perspective, however, this is a fantastic way to put crowd funding on the map. They have worked very hard to raise money for local projects in the past, and they feel with the success of the RoboCop statue project they will be able to firmly establish this method of fundraising as legitimate, and it will hopefully lead to more and easier success in the future.
I am actually very pleased for them on their success in this regard. It's hard to make something go in this town. I just wish the vehicle for this success hadn't been something quite as polarizing as RoboCop. What's next, Kwame?
And I wish it hadn't been driven almost entirely by people outside the Detroit area.
There is no way for me to precisely track where the money is coming from, but I took a look at the list of backers this morning to do a little math. Some people have their location listed with their names, and I do know a reasonable number of people here in Detroit. What I discovered was that out of 1500 backers, there were 10 whose location was listed as Detroit, MI. Additionally there were 10 people whose names I recognized, including folks affiliated with Imagination Station. And while I didn't count specifically, there were maybe 10 others from the metro Detroit area. So that's 2%. Even if you take into account that many people have no location listed, what could we possibly be talking about, 10% of the backers were from the Detroit area? I think that says a lot, and not just that we are poor.
So the question remains, will this lead to success in future projects that are not tied to some national enthusiasm over a joke? Most Detroiters I know are not fans of this idea, will they support future Imagination Station projects? Or has IS sacrificed some local goodwill in an effort to put themselves on the national map?
We can really only wait and see. A lot will pivot on the execution of the statue, but at the end of the day Detroit just got a present from the rest of America, and it's a gag gift.