Thursday, February 10, 2011

10 Reasons Why a Robocop Statue is a Bad Idea

Someone Tweeted Mayor Bing, his office replied, and a sensation was born. In case you haven't caught wind of it yet, a movement is afoot to build a statue of Robocop in Detroit. Primarily growing through social media, there seems to be a lot of support for this “awesome” idea.  All I can say is, wow.

I don't have strong feelings about the film "Robocop," and I was as charmed as anyone when Sweet Juniper posted the pics of his son's Robocop Halloween costume. I am sure for younger folks, most of whom are newer residents to the city, a statue of this film icon from their youth seems like a really fun idea.

But building a monument to this particular character in Detroit stirs up a very deep well. So before everyone gets carried away, I just want to share with you my 10 reasons why I think the Robocop statue is a bad idea.

1. It is insulting to Detroit and to Detroiters who have lived here through the worst. The reason Detroit is the setting for Robocop is because the city is considered a hellhole. Robocop may be a man/machine who overcomes injustice, but the Detroit in that movie is no compliment. The statue would serve as a perpetual reminder that Detroit holds the distinction of being the most believable dystopia in America.

2. It's disrespectful to the police. As if there is any better symbol of a dysfunctional police force than Robocop. Good luck with your 911 response times with that statue in your front yard.

A vision of the future.
3. It's hypocritical. A major plot point in the movie is that the new “Delta City” would be built over the crime-ridden “Old Detroit.” The movie's plot does pivot on the actions of corrupt corporate overlords, but Robocop remains a tool of the corporate powers at the end. The need for a new Delta City is never in doubt.

The fact that the Imagination Station is involved is of particular interest, since co-founder and president Jeff DeBruyn has been so very vocal in the recent gentrification fear-mongering in the Corktown area (a notion that was nicely debunked by the Free Press editorial page and's Jeff Wattrick last month). Apparently it's ok to celebrate a movie that takes for granted the need for a most severe kind of gentrification in Detroit, but it's problematic when middle-class people move into a middle-class neighborhood.

Incidentally, the Detroit Works project posted “Love that Robocop trended out yesterday” on their Facebook fan page. They need to think really hard about the decision to enter into this discussion, since they are teetering on the perception of being Omni Consumer Products, the corporation responsible for making the New Detroit in the movie, themselves.

4. It proves Martha Reeves was right. When she was elected to office a major part of her agenda was to have statues of Motown stars placed around town. She said it would make people feel good. She was rightly ridiculed for this, because what Detroit needs is substantive change, not feel-good gestures, even if it is statues of actual Detroiters who made significant cultural contributions.

Of course a statue of a fictional character, conceived and created 2000 miles away from Detroit, is a great idea and if you don't like it then you should prepare yourself to be labeled a buzzkill.

5. It's the outsider's answer to the Joe Louis fist. There is a vocal group of people who can never move past the notion that the Joe Louis fist statue is a defiant gesture aimed at the suburbs, a constant reminder in the heart of downtown that they think they were told to “hit 8 Mile Road” by a Detroit mayor.

A Robocop statue, with money that will no doubt be raised primarily from outside the city limits, can be seen as the constant reminder (potentially right in the middle of one of our more vibrant neighborhoods) that Detroit will never move past its reputation as hopelessly corrupt and crime-ridden. And will be celebrated by many more non-residents than residents, for sure. Way to put a city in its place.

6. It's derivative. Public art can be hit or miss, but even when it doesn't quite work it demonstrates the creativity of a community and the openness of a population to those creative endeavors.

Placing a statue of a movie character shows little creativity, and it actually flagrantly uses somebody else's intellectual property, whether or not this particular use is legally copyrighted. It may be clever, or even ironic, in its placement, but at the end of the day it's not art.

7. It's a waste of money and manpower. The Kickstarter project seeks to raise $50,000 to make this statue. I don't doubt that is a reasonable estimate of costs for materials and manpower, and possibly administrative costs. But in a city like Detroit where $50k can make such a difference, is this really the best way to use that kind of cash? And doesn't it really squander the talents of people who could be involved in better, more creative pursuits?

Or what about projects to help the destitute in Corktown so they can get real help instead of feeling displaced from a public park?

8. It's low culture. Sure, Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky, and Milwaukee has the Bronze Fonz. But honestly, is that what we are going for? Stupid tourist attractions that appeal to connoisseurs of lowest culture? I'd argue that this is one “us too!” moment we can live without.

9. It's opportunist. The initial Tweet to the Mayor's office was a joke, and possibly the biggest error in this whole thing was the fact that someone in the Mayor's office actually deigned to reply to it (props again to Jeff Wattrick for that observation). But now it's become the movement of the moment, and it just seems a bit opportunist to take ownership of the idea.

It certainly will be plenty of publicity for the Imagination Station whether this gets funded or not – heck, they're already on Detroit Public Radio today to talk about it. Then again, maybe that's the idea? In which case Jerry Paffendorf (whom I like very much personally, by the way) continues to prove himself one of the savviest marketers in the Detroit area.

10. It will add an entirely new dimension to train station ruin porn. Tired of pictures of the Michigan Central Station? If this goes up in front of the Imagination Station, located across the street from the train station, you can expect to be seeing a lot more MCS ruin porn in the years to come.

At the end of the day, if this project gets funded, it's a private project on private property and of course people will do what they want. And that's their right. I just think that this particular idea is too rife with negative connotations.

I guess all I can say is I gave to the Kickstarter Hygienic Dress League “No Vacancy” Project, and I gave to the Save the Downtown Synagogue project, but I'm hanging on to my money for this one. I think we are better than this.


parker said...

As far as I'm concerned, this is the concept that finally reveals a doughy, naked emperor running around town with tons of great ideas.

What has been bothering me about this new movement in Detroit that is fueled by youth and enthusiasm -- as well as the illusion of a wild, wild west paradise of vacancy -- is the lack of any critical eye. Are all ideas good? Is everything deserving of support and cheerleading just because we are so "downtrodden?"

I'd go on but really, SG, this post says it all. Thanks for articulating these reasons.

film_maven said...

hahaha! Love this - Of all the 'fun' things we can build a statue to in the city of Detroit..I don't understand the whooopdie doo about this....Because the movie was set in Detroit, doesn't make this a Detroit about a statue of Slim Shady?

Unknown said...

Its real difficult to take you seriously with a blog title such as this. As a person who was moved out of Detroit as a child to escape crime and blight (burglarized 4 times) I fully recognize the interest in a Robocop statue. He was hero to me when there were no heroes, when no one seemed to care as the houses around us became abandoned crack dens, as man kicked in our door while we were sleeping, as we came home to find our dog beat-up and our possessions all gone. This was 30 years ago.

Now I am in my 30s and I fully appreciate the art culture that is building in Detroit and I believe this is related to that. Yes it would be cheesy and I hope no one would take it seriously. But was there not a time when the Heidelberg project was the subject of criticism? How about the People mover? Casinos??? But we cant have a statue of Robocop?

I dont expect the mayor to endorse it. But if some enthusiastic kids wan to do it I say go for it. No press is bad press. And in a city with few heroes to memorialize, with many statues of people that we dont even teach about in our public schools, why not have a statue that people can look up to. maybe it would give the cops something to think about.

Supergay Detroit said...

If the name bugs you, Daniel, feel free not to take me seriously. Is it the "super" or the "gay" that presents the problem?

If a group of Detroiters who had lived through the worst - or even really had an idea of how bad it has been - and said that Robocop was their hero in the darkest hours then I might have a different perspective.

But that is not the case. To me this is essentially about a lack of perspective.

Anonymous said...

"in a city with few heroes to memorialize"

Wow. You *did* say you lived here once, right?

I'm not even going to dignify that statement with a list.

Nick P. said...

Bravo, Sir. Thank you for articulating what I currently don't have the time to.

Supergay Detroit said...

#5 might seem like a stretch at first, but look what someone named "Fquattordici Tomcat" just posted on the wall of the Craig Fahle show on WDET!

OK, Lets get Real. There is that Great Big Fist in your Face at Woodward & Jefferson. If I remember right, there is absolutely NOTHING their to explain it. Welcome to Detriot, here's a Big Fist in your Face ! Erect a statue of RoboCop & the fist fighting each other, or take down the fist. Whos idea was that? Yea, I've... got enough cajounes to say it.

Plane Ideas said...

This is a joke of an idea and just another twisted incaranation of the ruin porn themes which have exploited the harsh realities of urban venues.. Some folks share the mindset that Detroit is such a clusterfuck that even fictional nonsense like this project is worthy and has merit..WTF

Stephan said...

Dear Supergay,

Thank you.

I propose the erection of a statue in your honor.

Unknown said...

I don't understand the need to pee on someone's parade. These kids are enthusiastic, and even if you don't understand it or agree with their intentions, don't suck the wind out of their sails. It's amazing anything interesting ever happens in Detroit with so much dreary negativity. As someone from Theatre Bizarre recently said, "I'm not asking for you to help. I'm asking for you to not get in my way." That is the spirit of Detroit I adore.

Jenna said...

Statues for everybody! Why not, lets get a statue for kid rock, slim shady, robocop, tim allen, madonna, bozo the clown and kristen bell.

If you are so against a Robocop statue, what do you propose we do? What are your fun ideas?

(This is meant as an effort to open up a collaboration versus the constant and easily generated negativity that comes from internet anonymity.)

Let's try being constructive instead of destructive... Isn't that the issue anyway? That we want to rebuild a city? Not further destroy it?

Unknown said...

Pardon me. I did mean few heroes to memorialize in recent years. And I still live here.

If those who have struggled through much harder times take issue with the statue then they have the right to do something about it.

I see all your arguments as reasons why we should have it and totally representative of Detroit.

1. Detroiters are constantly being insulted or exploited or misrepresented. Nothing new there.

2. The police force often disrespects itself. As many good officers as there are they have their own problems.

3. I agree with you on this point.

4. Of all the things the city has wasted money on I would be happy if one of them was a statue.

5. This is a dated and counterproductive point of view

6. The Train Station has been employed in at least three super action movies. Our downtown was turned into a Communist HQ 2 years ago. We are a movie city now.

7. Anything that involves people spending money and being active on a grass roots level in the city of Detroit positive. They could put their energy toward something better but they will always run into criticism. Thats part of this city and this state.

8. Low culture is part of any big city. Its gonna happen. And there are many people in metro Detroit that wallow in low culture. As I said, its hard to take a comment about low culture seriously from a blog titled supergay.

9. What isnt opportunist in this city. Choose your battles.

10. Good. Bring people to the Train Station. Its our Roman Forum, our Parthenon. People should see it and revel in its greatness. Detroiters need to get over the ruins and embrace them as our heritage. i would rather have that train station in photos than Southfield or Troy.

Unknown said...

BTW its the Super part and the way that its put together sounds like you are commenting on things that are "Super Gay" in Detroit and not that you are Super Gay and live in Detroit. Thats was my misunderstanding.

Plane Ideas said...

I reject the defensive posture which claims that dissent and alternative opinion about an issue is negativity and a pissing excercise on another's parade..

Some ideas don't deserve to fly and the very notion that what is "interesting" is always open to analysis and perspective..

Often being 'constructive" is the rejection of a backward idea..

Supergay Detroit said...

First of all, if anyone is going to accuse me of pissing on anyone's parade or not doing anything constructive, I would humbly suggest gaining a little more familiarity with this blog.

I'm generally supportive, but there was some perspective missing from this discussion. It just happened to be my perspective. If someone reads my points and feels that they still want to support the Robocop statue then please support it. The amount has jumped to $80,000 so they need all the support they can get.

Yes. Eighty thousand.

Perspective, people.

AmyinMotown said...

Thank you, SuperGay. This whole thing is making me so angry, and you very clearly articulated the reasons why. These hipster kids are adorable and everything and I'm glad they're here, but this really is a slap in the face who is old enough to remember what Detroit was like in the 1980s and what a wave of pissing on the city this movie helped create. It's a self-consciously ironic, silly created by people who, if tey do love Detroit like they claim to, should be channelling their energy and creativty in much better ways and understand what a thumb in the eye it is to people who have been through really awful times here.

AmyinMotown said...

"ts our Roman Forum, our Parthenon. People should see it and revel in its greatness."

Oh sweet Jesus, the ridiculousness of this statement is just too great to even argue with. It's a hulking wreck owned by a slumlord who doesn't even live here and it's blighting one of our most vibrant neighborhoods. Its continued existence runs utterly counter to what those of us who are actually living our lives in this city versus making it a hipster playground are trying to do. Put that thing in your neighborhood and see how beautful anyone thinks it is then.

Brahm W said...

Sometimes you just have to embrace the negative to disarm it. "Nigger" was used as a derogatory term historically, now the African American population uses it half-jokingly to refer to members of their own communities. Likewise, "gay" is often used by the close-minded to put down those who identify as homosexual, but here you are flaunting the term in the title of your blog. Heck, even the Christian cross could be considered a bad idea -- bringing to mind slow and painful death & persecution -- yet look at how it has stood the test of time.

The Robocop statue is the embodiment of accepting the symbolism that goes with it, but it also disarms its negativity by finding humor in the situation. Others may also find inspiration in it being a "never again"-type reminder.

As far as being a waste of money and manpower goes... this isn't the end-all/be-all of the efforts to revitalize Detroit, mutually exclusive of any others... just one, grass root prong among many. Who knows, maybe the tourism it could inspire would bring in many times its cost to local businesses.

Supergay Detroit said...

Brahm, you bring up good points. More money was spent rebranding Harmonie Park (although it included quality streetscape upgrades and renovations).

And taking a negative and turning it into a positive is one potential outcome, to be sure. I can only speak for the gay community, but taking "queer" and owning it is the closest parallel. But that was a very specific decision on the part of activists. I don't see that kind of intent on the part of Robocop supporters.

Jeff said...

New Orleans built a statue of Ignatius J. Reilly downtown. There's nothing wrong with a statue of a fictional character that captures the imagination.

Of course, New Orleans gets the main character of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, one of the great works of American fiction.

Detroit wants a robot from a 1980s sci-fi movie.

This town seriously needs to raise its standards.

Mies Davis said...

Spot on as usual SG.

IamSouthwestDeroit said...

If robocop had been filmed in Detroit then I'd see why some people would want a statue. But the movie was filmed in dallas, and dallas is NOT Detroit. Rocky was based on the idea that a simple man could overcome adversity, train, and fight his way to be champion, from no one to some one. Robocop... You have to be killed and brought back as a robot to make change, NO THANKS.

Anonymous said...

I just heard this discussed on the radio.

Jerry Puffendorf or whatever his name is has (by his own admission) floated to Detroit from San Francisco, NYC, LA, Portland, and God knows where else after growing up in New Jersey. He's been here, what, less than two years? I don't have any real problems with him or his various virtual reality simulations or whatever they are, but (while I'm not futurist) I don't think it's unfair to assume Jerry Puffendorf will probably spend as much time in Detroit as he did San Francisco, New York, Portland, LA, and wherever else before heading off to some new city or maybe moving into the computer permanently like the retarded guy in Lawnmower Man. I don't think creative young transients are a bad thing for a city nor do I want to turn this into a "new resident" versus "old resident" debate. . .

But the bottom line: if he succeeds in erecting a statue of Robocop in Roosevelt Park, chances are the statue of Robocop will outlast Jerry Puffendorf in Detroit, with all the implications and issues brought up in this blogger's excellent post.

I would hope that something as serious as a permanent figurative statue in Detroit would be the result of real discussion, debate, and ultimately civic unity rather than a tossed off tweet by an anonymous Massachusetts resident and a tongue-in-cheek response from the city's mayor, funded by Brooklyn hipsters (read the kickstarter "backers" list), and organized by a transient futurist whose future will probably not be spent under the watchful gaze of an iron Robocop.

TwelveEyes said...

You do realize the ridiculousness of this, right? Get off your lazy ass and get out from behind your worthless blog if you want to make a change in a city you seem to care so much about. The most youve accomplished with this blog post is absolutely nothing.

The Old Man said...

"Serve the public trust"
"Protect the innocent"
"Uphold the law"

Yeah, those are totally things I don't want public monuments to. Plural monuments, for that manner.

Chris Kagel said...

"It is low culture."
YES! As opposed to THIS:

Supergay Detroit said...

What exactly is your objection to Fierce Hot Mess, Chris Kagel? It is a diverse crowd, musically sophisticated and builds community in Detroit.

It may not be highbrow but it is certainly a unique middlebrow!

Anonymous said...

I like how people are bitching about this idea because the movie show Detroit as a crime ridden pit. I got bad new for you it is a crime ridden pit. The Robocop could be a symbol of what Detroit should strive not to be in the future. I for one will give to the statue. "Low Culture" or what ever you want to call it. It's going to happen so deal with it.

Anonymous said...

I agree that generally the statue is kitsch and of "low culture" but you're wrong describing the film as such. It's a clever satire of Reaganomics, deregulation and union busting. It's more "Dr.Strangelove" than it is "Generic 80's action".

Anonymous said...

You are way over analyzing this and getting your panties in a bunch for nothing.

Step back from the scene and realize it can't be a bad thing that young people are interested in your city. Getting people to raise money, and possibly getting a boost in visitors is exactly what you should want.
You can nitpick and hypothosize, but in the end it just shows that you are getting angry over nothing.

Supergay Detroit said...

Just to clarify, I'm not criticizing the movie, and I'm not angry. Do I seriously come off as angry? I'm simply saying what I think is wrong with the idea of a statue of Robocop in Detroit.

Young people are already interested in our city. And actually, if young people are interested in our city because of Robocop then seriously, they do deserve criticism. But this isn't about them.

Anonymous said...

You nailed it, Supergay. I had the same thoughts this morning and started a similar heated debate on facebook..

Some of these ten issues resonate strongly. The cost of this, although reasonable if it is well constructed, is outrageous considering other infinite possibilities for $80k. That 80k could easily be put into Detroit's schools, shelters, assistance for those in need, beautification projects, tearing down abandoned structures or rehabbing them.

I always have supported artistic ventures since I'm creative myself, but I draw a line between what is constructive and practical and either too surreal or cheezy.

Philly can have their Rocky statue, and if NYC wanted to have Superman or Spiderman, so be it. All these 'heroes' fought crime in cities, but no other city in America has experienced crime and it's effects like Detroit. So making a statue of the hero or protagonist in the movie where that crime was exploited is truly a joke. We are better than that. Even if our city is corrupt, opportunistic or hypocritical at times, we should not therefor think it's okay.

I honestly can't compare Robocop to Rocky anyways. Rocky was a far better film, Philly was seen in a good light, and now everyone who visits Philly as a tourist wants to go see the Rocky statue.

Detroit wasn't seen in a good light in Robocop. Imagine tourists coming to see the Robocop statue. Would not NOT be a obvious reminder and play into their mentality that Detroit is overburdened with crime like in the movie? It's surreal.

Watch this one slide by and get built because in the end, people think "it's cool."

Well I don't want to live in a city that has to live up to some coolness/trendy standard. Then it isn't cool anymore. The people, places, lifestyle, culture will make a place cool for me.
How many people would honestly admit Philly is cool because they have a Rocky statue? It's almost like an afterthought.

Unknown said...

I really wish you'd back off this. This is exactly the kind of negativity that discourages people and keeps Detroit in the shitty rut it's in.

It's so fashionable to be contrarian and knock down anyone with the motivation to do something they believe in. A statue isn't going to hurt anybody.

I once organized a croquet social in full Edwardian attire in the Packard. Got a lot of flack for that. Keepin' it real Detroiters seem to prefer nothing to happen, than something they might not be comfortable with.

There are a lot of people with passion for this city who are going to make interesting and unexpected things happen with your cynical approval or not.

They are the ones making this city great.

suburban hypocrite said...

Maybe they could have done a Robocop exhibit at the DIA. That would be more appropriate.

A statue won't hurt anybody. Hazen Pingree doesn't hurt anybody, but his stature in GCP stands for something. What exactly is Robocop standing for? How fast will he be vandalized and I hope the IS will keep up on that.

There is nothing wrong with criticism, constructive or otherwise. How would we then know and identify what we consider 'art', without critiquing it?

To each their own.

Cassie said...

You know what my first response was when I saw your post, Joe? Thank God! I was waiting for you to say something! I can't comment further because this statue business is making me angry!

gravitymachine said...

like cassie, this whole business is making me angry, not just negative, but ANGRY. on its own, its a fun idea, but within the context of detroit, this is the most insulting way of blowing $80K ever devised. These kids need to stop hunting internet glory and twitter stardom and think about things for a moment. That $80K would be better spent turning the Imagination Station into a homeless shelter, which would address issue #3 nicely

Anonymous said...

IAmSouthwestDetroit said that Rocky is OK because it showed a nobody becoming a somebody, but RoboCop was a good cop getting killed and then brought back as a cyborg.

Sounds like RoboCop is a perfect analogy for Detroit's past, present, and future. Detroit was a good city, is now dead, and is coming back to life.

And SuperGay; whether or not you normally are pissing on the parade, the fact is that in this instance you are. It's like an innocent man being accused of stealing simply because he had been caught stealing a few times before.

suburban hypocrite said...

I can see why so many people are getting riled up.

Frankly, there is no pressing need for this statue.

I really hope the potential benefactors see this in a different light and realize that $80,000 can be used on many urgent needs in Detroit.

We should all open our minds. And if I was in a destitute situation living in Corktown and I saw an $80k statue of Robocop erected, I'd be pretty mad.

Supergay Detroit said...

Michael, I haven't really pursued this any further than I had this morning, other than responding to comments, so I don't know how I'm supposed to back off this other than retracting the post which I simply wouldn't do.

Just because something can be done doesn't mean it doesn't have a downside. Did it not occur to the folks proposing this that people might have feelings that don't echo their own? This is not the kind of negativity that discourages people from doing things in Detroit. This is called carefully and thoughtfully expressing an opinion that apparently is shared with at least a few others.

A public statue is something that will affect everyone, it's not the same as criticizing something ephemeral like a party. That's why public art projects involve a public comment period. The fact that this would be privately funded removes that chance to comment technically, but the statue affects people just the same.

I do appreciate your opinion and your dropping into the blog for commentary on this one post, but honestly, if you actually think all I am doing here is offering cynical commentary and fashionable contrarianism then you don't know what this blog is about.

While I have reservations on this particular issue, I am generally overwhelmingly supportive of projects I write about. Take a look at posts with the "art" tag when you have a moment. You might even find something complimentary about yourself in there.

Unknown said...

Addendum: I cant support an attempt to raise $50,000 for the statue. Anything over $100 is too much.

RoboCop said...

10 reasons. Couldn't you think of any more? Or was 10 the right number? That you stretched for 10 mostly unrelated reasons really undermines anything important you might have to say.

If this was such an important issue, you'd have a main problem to address. Perspective? The is no meaningful interrelationship between your 10 ideas. That's not perspective that's nitpicking.

Call it low art, but it's not to be taken seriously. How condescending of you to suggest that anyone with interest in this statue is of low culture. It's a novelty. Oh it would also lead to more pictures of MCS. That's pretty trivial.

Waste of money? It's privately funded, who are you to say what people should do with their money, and even more, what to do with their talent? You've got a public forum here, raise money for what you want.

You have the nerve to call it opportunist and hypocritical, yet you are writing a blog entry capitalizing on its buzz. Or does a the possibility of a robocop statue just strike a chord in your heart?

You say this idea has too many negative connotations, but I think you reached as far as you could for any you could think of. It's a robocop statue for god sake. What your incoherent post lacks more than anything is perspective.

Iamsouthwestderoit said...

Robocop is a joke, you may asu well put up a statue of axel folley (beverly hills cop). The movie Narc was based in detroit, lets build a statue of that too... A statue of mickey mouse would mean more than robocop.

Tanzaneia said...

I find this so amusing to me. Only when somebody tries to put a little humor (and pride if that's what they think) back into Detroit. That everybody starts going "WE SHOULD TRY TO DO SOMETHING GOOD FOR THE CITY!" - where were you before? Sitting at home? Doing your nails? Selling drugs? What? What were you doing? Let people have their fun. As far as stupid tourist attractions go, Detroit could use one. You see people taking "fun recreational trips" to Detroit? I don't even want to VISIT, and my parents live there. Bring to light the corruption in the police department. You call 911 in the city of Detroit, they don't come anyway. That happened to my grandmother when her house got shot up by drug dealers. Fantastic. She moved to Dearborn. Whatever, make your lists. It's a great idea. At least somebody is doing something creative and interesting, instead of the city council stealing money from taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Lighten up.

Anonymous said...

Detroit needs to have a sense of humor about itself, and this project projects just that. It's the bitterness and whiny-ness about our reputation that has helped it to persist for so long.

Anonymous said...

Great post.

If there was a number 11, I would add that even if I thought pop-culture irony and internet humor was awesome (and let's be honest here, that is ALL that this is), this is lame even by those standards. It's like referencing Mr.T or something.

However, if they wanted to build a Small Wonder statue in Detroit, I could get behind that.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Daniel: you can't talk about what you experienced 30 yrs ago if you are only 30, right?
I was here 30 yrs ago, lived thru a real version of Robocops Live!
It was horrible, the beginning of Police brutality being documented and stopped. Crime isn't limited to just common folks and wearing a uniform doesn't make you a saint or above being a criminal!
Has anyone asked the residents, those who live here, what they want, what they like, what they would like to see done here?
NO, of course not, somehow for reason not mentioned by me, they are not considered worthy of that much respect, and that is the whole issue, RESPECT.
The movie was bad enough to deal with, but having it thrown in your face is a huge insult that won't go away.
how much fun is that supposed to be?
Yes it is time to move on, to go ahead and bring back the city that was beyond anyone's imagination that was born after 1980, it was a world you can't even grasp.
I cry when I see all the foreclosed homes all over town, listed for sale but never selling.
Homes where I knew the families that lived there, homes on the streets I grew up on, vast stretches of land now owned by a dozen or so slumlords who are holding the city back from progressing, rebuilding, vultures who flaunt the law and laugh at the people who are helpless to stop them.
This city is far more complex than the younger generation can comprehend in a few sound bites or quick run into town from the burbs.
Thank you Supergay for your balanced input.
Understand, I'm not a tourist, I was born here, saw it all, the good, the bad, the determination to hang in there and keep the city alive despite being declared dead, coming back to life again. It's a respect thing, and what makes the issue a mean one is those who dog the city, dis the city every chance they get and think that robocop is fun and the answer to what we need.
I've lived other places, been other places, but this will always be home.

Anonymous said...

Wow why so butthurt it's a statue and Robocop is awesome. Guess some people will find a problem with something no matter what.

not robocop said...

Thanks for this post, I completely agree.

Let's use $50,000 for Not robocop. literally. check it out.

cobayo said...

last july i went to detroit as a tourist. im from uruguay in south america,my only knowledge of detroit was michael moore and robocop.

i didnt udnersteand what that black fist was about until my friend from there explained it to me. i found no info around it, at least not easy to find.

i found detroit really interesting, downtown at least, but from all the things they wanted to show me, i wanted to see a statue of robocop (im dead serious btw :P).

cos it was all i knew about detroit. and, because as a youngling (im 33 now) he was my hero.

robocop its not about detroit being a fcked up city, or about corrupt police force.

its about a man, turned into a cyborg, wiped his memories, and still he finds the way to be the outstanding cop he was, and a good human being. the one he used to be.

of course im a SF fan, i love my science fiction shows, movies, and books, and please, i wouldnt dare commenting on casablanca. but i do about robocop, to be, at the distance, it seems like a reminder that even indark times, even if corporations, crime, and governemnte screwed you, you can still be a human being and never forget what you stand for.

oh my, i got too serious didnt i? ;)

Anonymous said...

When it gets built and eventually vandalized, you know people are going to hold you responsible, right?

Unknown said...

"at the distance, it seems like a reminder that even indark times, even if corporations, crime, and governemnte screwed you, you can still be a human being and never forget what you stand for."

Damn straight cobs. Well put.

Larry S said...

To the people who say the $50k / 80k would better be spent on other community projects: maybe you don't see that it doesn't work like that (see also: zero sum). The 80k wouldn't exist to send elsewhere if it weren't robocop. People everywhere, for whatever reason, are excited about this idea. The kickstarter exists to harness and channel that enthusiasm into a tangible result.

I work with Jerry on Loveland & the Imagination Station, and we try constantly to raise money for noble Detroit causes: it's slow going!

Nothing is stopping YOU from creating a kickstarter campaign for a project you care about. It's awesome that notrobocop is doing exactly this: I sincerely hope they succeed, but I also know it's like pulling teeth to motivate people to donate to charity unless you're unusually creative, surprising or moving.

Let the statue happen - it'll bring more attention, delight and resources to the neighborhood!

Unknown said...

Anyone pretentious enough to deride fellow humans simply for wallowing in "low culture" once in a while shouldn't be taken seriously.

Amber said...

10 Reasons why YOU'RE A BAD IDEA:

1. This post
2. This post
3. This post
4. This post
5. This post
6. This post
7. This post
8. This post
9. This post
10. This post

Anonymous said...

If anyone has a concept on how they would like to spend a certain amount of money then they can start their own project and see if it gets funded.

The concept is silly, the project is silly but sometimes things in life just need to be silly. Not everything that gets done in life has value to each individual.

You may find offense to the concept but if enough people put money towards it then we will have a statue. If it were tax dollars then I would say everyone has a right to have the funds justified.

Are the same people who are against this have the same vocal opinion on the Heidelberg project/ Ice House/ Orange Houses / hygenic dress league billboards?

You dont have to live in Detroit to love Detroit and you dont have to go put meaning behind things where there is no meaning.

I am sure the people who get paid to do the work on this sculpture will be happy they they got paid for honest work that helps feed their families. That being said they are probably getting paid by people who have never been to Detroit. How is that for helping our economy.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Corktown resident, I've been here for five years. I don't think this is an old/new resident debate-- I think that the community is welcoming of others and embraces people that are good neighbors and citizens.

That said, I will be extremely saddened to see a Robocop statue raised in Roosevelt Park. I am quite sure my elderly neighbors would not find humor or whimsy in a statue that is a symbol of how outsiders view Detroit as a lawless and violent place to be so easily maligned.

Regarding the "low art" comment - I think that critique is for art critics. I think the more appropriate argument is to look at the other examples of public art in the neighborhood. At Trumbull and Bagley stands a granite and bronze statue of Monsignor Clement Kern, who served the Corktown community for 34 years at Holy Trinity, helping Catholics and non-Catholics alike, including new immigrants, and was regarded as the "Labor Priest." The statue of the Monsignor asks us to "Lift up our hearts." To me, that is something to be immortalized. A person who was beloved by the neighborhood and tried to do right by the community. And there are many other fitting examples of people who actually lived and worked for this city to be memorialized than a fictional character. What about Ken Cockrel Sr. who worked tirelessly for social justice? That's just one example. I could go on and on.

I wasn't born in Michigan, nor was I raised here, so I feel that the Imagination Station (I hate to take a cheap shot but that is the most unimaginative name possible-for seemingly creative folks it seems you missed the bar there) crew should show a bit more respect for the fact that they are residing in the city's oldest neighborhood and one of the persistently strongest. It is now a privilege and a choice to live here, while perhaps it wasn't a choice for others in the past.

During Father Kern's tenure in the 1960s, Time Magazine called the neighborhood a "rundown, ramshackle Detroit slum." The city was portrayed as such in the film they want to immortalize. That article was printed in 1960, yet that narrative is still the one consistently making national headlines, along with the previously mentioned ruin porn. Haven't we moved past that? Guess not. In fact, apparently we want to cast it in bronze.

Is this a discussion about public art? Sure it is. But it's also a discussion about what kind of neighborhood and what kind of citizens we want to be and how we want our story told. Our story is maligned over and over, and it really saddens me that some of my neighbors wish to give gas cans to those people holding the matches.

redplasticcup said...

the internet is a powerful, and sometimes, powerfully stupid, thing.

the folks from the imagination station, who are claiming that twitter and facebook compelled them to act, really need to take a step back.

Aaron said...

Detroiters Against a Robocop Statue on Facebook.

Anonymous said...

Supergay: What are your thoughts on this becoming the most commented post on your blog?

Cedric Tai said...

I haven't said anything yet, but now I think I've got a great idea. What would make this much more strategic would be to propose that the original people that created Robocop would find a local cause that they would give the proceeds to, pe...rhaps a homeless cause considering how cold it has been lately. This way those who brought us Robocop would be atoning for bringing such a negative view of the city to a reconciliation point and those who like giving money to things that they think are 'cool' would be inadvertently supporting the city. (Which I believe is how most people end up giving money anyways, you have to dangle something shiny in their faces while they get wasted. You know?) Also, petitioning on behalf of those who actually created Robocop is the most direct way of making the statue happen, because who really gets the money for creating a 'Robocop' statue? I'll bet you no one's figured that part out yet really. People need to practice their grant writing skills to be getting this statue for free, while residents' money needs to be going to real causes or at least having a critical stance on understanding issues of privilege.

Anonymous said...

Hey John Leonard said to write him about what you feel on Robocop. His email is I did and this is what I said, in 3 posts because it is so long:

Hey John,
I am writing you today as one of the developers or organizers of the Robocop statue. I see that you were not here 24 years ago but I was, so I am enlightening you here on the situation that you missed out on. You were not here during the tipping of police cars for fun after the Tigers won the pennant in 1987, or the shootout on Gratiot that same year after the Pistons won their championship like I was. Let me tell you about Detroit in 1987. Hopefully you will ponder what I am telling you and consider what you are doing. The last thing we want to do is bring back or glorify 1987 Detroit, when the film was made. I WAS here 24 years ago, up on the west side and did witness quite a bit; the crack epidemic was in full swing and so was corruption and crime. I am going to tell you some shit that will blow your mind if you were not around then. The police were corrupt and racism within the department was amazingly strong. The white cops hung out in bars where you had to be let in by a buzzer and they did not let black people in at all; that was the whole point of the buzzer. Inside the bar the N word was commonly proudly shouted not uttered. A white cop might pretend to be a racist to avoid being treated as an "N" lover which could be fatal to them on the job. White cops did not back up black cops nor the women cops for that matter. Everyone gay had to be closeted for sure. There were violent cops that raped and beat up homeless people and got away with it. Cops were fewer than they are today; but acted as if they knew they ran the town. Every Friday for years the police would close down Eliza Howell park at dark and they would all bring their drugs that they confiscated and the party would begin at 10 pm. Cops drank at work and hid in their squad cars to sleep instead of protecting the city.

Unknown said...

All black people and those of color were treated like criminals in this environment. For entertainment cops would troll black drivers, harass them heavily and give them tickets that they did not deserve. Often they would write up what they called "ditch tickets" that the victims never knew about till they were picked up in a sweep or trolled again.
Cops shot up people and killed them without any accountability whatsoever. At 17 I attended a funeral for 2 of my friends who were shot in the back and killed because they, like a bunch of kids, scattered when the cops all came up robocop style on a high school party in the park. During six years on the force, one Detroit officer fatally shot three people and wounded another in nine separate shooting incidents. Each review of the cases ended the same way: clearing the officer of any wrongdoing. Malice Green was the first time that white cops got in any trouble for killing a black person at all and that wasn't until 1993. Prisoners were often beaten and thrown in precinct cells stained with human feces, blood, rotting food, sanitary napkins and broken glass in the cells. Detroit hate including self hate was intense absolutely everywhere. There were many areas of the city, including the massive housing projects where the police did not go even if called upon. There were special thug task forces, like STRESS and the BIG 4 that Mayor Young finally put a stop to because they seemed to do nothing but harass and wound people. The police did not protect us in Brightmoor either. A body lay across my next door neighbor's steps for 3 days till anyone responded to multiple calls. 3 people murdered, no investigation. Across the street a double homicide, on the corner lived a serial rapist killer, Leslie Allen Williams. When he was caught the cops "swept" the whole neighborhood and took a lot of people away because they owed tickets or fines. It was hell trying to find sitters and deal with the disappearance of so many neighbors at once. It was a regular practice for the police to ID every person walking out of a store and drag away a bunch of people.

Anonymous said...

We never saw any amount of protection from the police, only harrassment. The corruption seemed systemic to us. For example if you called on a drug house, the police would boldly and unashamedly let the drug house know about it. I have witnessed the cops arriving a full 2 days after they were called, drive up the driveway of the offending crack house, signal with a short siren and lights, back down the driveway and then go up the family's driveway that called them and get out to take the report or not take a report; when they were begged by the victims not to be obvious this time. 911 calls ran an average of 18 hours behind. We feared and hated the cops and did not trust them. I have witnessed out of frustration with the police and the crime, an army of the men in the neighborhood organize and rush up on a crack house with bats, 2 x 4's and hammers and under gunfire of the crack dealers, physically kick them out, bust up the house literally into pieces, disassemble it and drag it to the street, where the sanitation department would remove the debris over time. Motor City Blight Busters was built
on this practice and that is why they have organized volunteer crews that demolish blighted houses. It was already happening.
In how many ways can I explain that it is a really bad idea to put up a statue that depicts Robocop and recalls the general violence of this era?

Anonymous said...

You were not here but many residents were here and know what I am talking about. Also consider the proposed location, Where Michigan and Verner meet and who will see it there. It will not just those heading in from Corktown or Ferndale to eat at Slows or Detroit Soup. Think of the residents of Southwest and west Detroit just trying to go about their business who are people of color and therefore do not get a warm fuzzy feeling when they see the police.
I can say some positive stuff too about the same people who support the statue and many of you are friends and aquaintances; but this is about what the truth is no matter what you may feel at this time. To say that the good outweighs the bad or I don't understand why you want it or anything like that is to accept collateral damage for this decision. Why hurt anyone at all when it is completely unneccessary? And why bulldoze ahead with a plan that is oppressive to most and culturally ignorant at the least? Why justify and embrace your own ignorance and keep arguing with us?
Respectfully in Peace,
Jean Wilson
Executive Director
United Peace Relief Detroit
Detroit Artist and Community Activist

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Given all that has happened to Detroit and it's citizens, it is resilient enough to deal with a Robocop statue. Life goes on.

Anonymous said...

Why honor a movie that depicted Detroit so negatively? Plus the statue just would just remind us of how terrible Detroit actually was in the 80s!

Oh wait... I just contradicted myself. Never mind.

Ben Lundy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Hubbell said...

Put it on Heidelberg street. It would be perfect. How campy would that be?

Anonymous said...

Ceedric, however you feel about the Robocop statue, it would be completely unethical and probably criminal to take money that people donated for one purpose and just decide categorically to apply it to another purpose. That's the kind of shenanigans that got the former Mayor and his cronies indicted. And is it really up to you or any other hipster activist to decide who should "atone" for bringing what you perceive as a negative view of the city? Where do you start? Where do you stop? Is that your line to draw?

~Sean of Detroit said...

Good points. Maybe not a statue, but something like a collage mural of Detroit Pop icons, in which RoboCop could be featured?

Evoric said...

SuperGay: I take issue with only one thing you've written on this subject and before I criticize you I must say I love this blog BUT please do not say "I can only speak for the gay community"... A momentary lapse of perspective I'm sure. I'm confident that you accept that our community is "diverse" and that you represent your well educated position - luv

Supergay Detroit said...

evoric - I meant I can only speak regarding the taking of an offensive word like "queer" and turning it into a positive!

AshLW said...

pretty much, you're an asshole...supergay detroit?? clever much? find someone else's parade to rain on. really.

malthegreat said...

Bravo Supergay. Thank you for articulating so well how I feel about this dumb idea. And Ashlee Lori, really, what are you, in 2nd grade? LOL

Jonno! said...

This article is really badly written, you can barely find 10 reasons against this, and they're all your stupid opinion.

This is an awesome idea, and if people want to buy a statue and it costs the city no money, who can complain about that?

Plus, your argument against tourism is probably one that local business owners don't appreciate at all.

If 20,000 people back this project and then all come to Detroit to see the statue, are you going to say their money isn't welcome? That would be foolish indeed.

Stop being such a grouch, your city needs better ideas and this is one of many. It can't hurt anything except your stupid pride, obviously.

Anonymous said...

Who hates on a Kickstarter project? What is the matter with you? Don't give them money, and then go click on something else. Or start your own Kickstarter, for something you think is so much better. What the hell is the matter with you?

I'm not sure what will "fix" Detroit if it needs fixing. But I can tell you, from living in a bunch of other cities, that nowhere else will people simply stand in the way of other people making an art project, because they supposedly are "defending" their city. Get a life.

DJ Shiva. said...

Wow. It's amazing how bent out of shape people get when someone posts a critical opinion. Guess what? People have different opinions. If you haven't grokked that yet, you're in for a world of hurt. Anyways...

Really Detroit? Robocop? Not only an 80s movie, but a bad one. Yes it was meant to be a satire on privatization, but it was...bad. I am a sci fi nerd and I still think it would be tragically bad. Although maybe if you located it in Hart Plaza near the "Stargate", you could start a whole bad sci fi statue montage...

But seriously. Of all the great things that Detroit IS known for, THIS is where people wanna go with it? smh.

Start a project to build an art school named after Tyree Guyton or a free music school for kids in the name of Underground Resistance and maybe I'll pitch in. Robocop? Mmmm no.

Anonymous said...

Wow as a native Michiganian I just wanted to say that this post is excellent! The arguments against building a Robocop statue are great! Detroit can and should do better. This post made my day, thanks again!

Toka313 said...

People are getting too angry about something fun we could have around. What's sad, but very very true, I and most others will recognize Robocop before we'll remember Russell Alger. And this whole "Statues are a waste of money" stuff gets me mad. You wouldn't say that about the Spirit of Detroit.
Also important, Detroit has become a filmmaking venue, all the more reason to have Detroit's most famous character paid homage to.
Althought I agree, putting it in front of the train station is a dumb idea. Brightmoor seems more fitting, but also in poor taste..

Supergay Detroit said...

I would argue that the only thing that filmmakers want or require is a generous tax credit, and a replica of one of their properties is not going to make a difference one way or the other in terms of Detroit's desirability as a filmmaking venue.

Anonymous said...

i would like to inform people that it is possible to donate money to a robocop statue while at the same time donating money to whatever other charities you find worthy.

Anonymous said...

“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus.

Supergay Detroit said...

Also, all ridiculous deeds and ridiculous thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Just sayin'.

Bryant said...

Sorry to tell you if you didn't see it yet, but the Kickstarter has been fully funded with over a month left to go:

Supergay Detroit said...

Um yeah, Bryant? You might want to check more recent posts on the blog before you get all snarky up in here.

Anonymous said...

Jeez this blog entry was so negative, have a drink or something.

Ryan Meray said...

Let's use the attention from the Robocop statue to do some good - ROBOCHARITY!

Anonymous said...

You fall into the "single funding pot" fallacy - that there is a finite amount of money out there, and that there is a choice between taking $80,000 and spending it on a statue vs. spending it on schools or homeless services.

If we were talking about the city budget, this would be a valid complaint. But before the Kickstarter project, there was no $80,000. The money was raised specifically from the "cool" factor of the statue.

"But shouldn't they have done fundraising for a good cause instead?" Consciously or not, people have one budget in their minds for giving to good causes and another budget for fun. This is why so many nonprofits do galas, happy hours, date auctions, comedy shows, etc. rather than just asking for cash all the time. They know their donors may have already spent their good deeds budget and they are trying to tap into part of their fun budget.

Robocop is pure fun budget, and like it or not, it has attracted $5 contributions from people who simply would not have given to a traditional charity.

Anonymous said...

Ok only nine more reasons to refute.

Roboseyo said...

You're going too far with your article. It's a great idea. Finally something awesome would happen in Detroit (apart from Eminem) and you want to trash talk it? Shame on you.

Aaron Night said...

I'm following this down under, and am amazed at this blog post. When do you think detroit would be discussed with such fervour and excitement, otherwise? Can't remember the city ever being a hot topic... well... ever. OK, so you personally don't connect to the actual symbolism - but what it has come to symbolise is a feeling of empowerment and mobilisation, of a collective will against government, of a collective who get things done on their own. THAT is worth something, and the statue will represent this, not some indepth analysis of the ins and outs of Robocop as an actual character. You're way out of the mainstream cultural vibe around this, and this post is too higbrow for its own good. Yes, you're a killjoy. Of course it would be great if people got together and donated 50K to something directly affecting the city... but this does affect the city, whether you like it or not. I would never consider going to Detroit, but if this is the kind of stuff that can happen there, it makes it pretty cool to me. That is clever marketing, as you say, but good and worthwhile marketing.

Supergay Detroit said...

The part I find most galling about the outside interest in this issue is that fact that so many people from outside the city are under the impression that this is somehow the only cool or interesting thing that is happening in Detroit.

Let's be clear: it's only the most interesting thing that stupid internet blogs have picked up as "progress" or your friends have posted on Facebook.

The New York Times has been hot on Detroit for a couple years now. Maybe you've heard of that? It's the newspaper of record. Do a search for some Detroit stories on their website.

Or maybe, if you need things a little pre-chewed, you can go to the Palladium boots website and get a glimpse of a city that is cooler than Robocop in their "Detroit Lives" documentary. Post that to Facebook instead.

In two weeks you won't even be thinking about Detroit, and in a year you'll be like "oh they have a Robocop statue." Which - if it actually even gets done - will do absolutely nothing locally to improve quality of life.

But somehow you'll think it saved Detroit. Well, it'll be the tons of people actually opening businesses, renovating houses, building community and creating ORIGINAL art that will be saving the city. But you'll never see that because it's not funny enough to make Reddit.

The Horror! Addiction! said...

"The reason Detroit is the setting for Robocop is because the city is considered a hellhole. "

No, it's because Detroit is a national symbol of metal manufacture.

J said...

I watched Detroit Lives on the Palladium Boots website like you suggested to another reader. Thank goodness y'all are getting a Robocop statue there is nothing else going on there!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

It would be cool if someone would raise that kind of money for something detroit could use. I live in Detroit and just moved out of one of it's worst neighborhoods. My friends live here, my family grew up here, and as residents we think robocop is a complete waste of money. In fact almost every resident I've talked to about this feels that way. It makes us mad that people can come here and see our city and decide that out of everything to raise money for here, we need a statue of robocop. come on, really?

Atarius said...

You guys act as if people go around admiring statues at all. Every city has statues and Detroit has them already of dignified historical figures.

No one gives a rats ass about them and they won't about Robocop's either. I say build it. At the very least it might magnify in some instance where the city was and where it is heading. Embrace the past and other people's views in order to learn and grow from them. Rather than hide from them and pretend it doesn't exist.

Anonymous said...

Supergay sure knows how to complain alot.

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