RoboCop is fantastic. It’s a classic piece of satire, a phenomenal 80s sci-fi-action masterpiece, and one of Fernanda’s all time favorite movies. So, you can probably guess where it might end up on You Love To See It store shelves!
As always, you can listen to the show in the embed, or find it on your podcatcher of choice here. You can also read the full transcription below our show notes, if you prefer your podcast in this format!
Our full RoboCop transcript:
Danielle: Oh, hi there, and welcome to You Love to See It, Fanbyte’s movie review podcast. Every month we pick a theme, and every week we watch a movie, and then we decide where its VHS tape—and it is a VHS tape—belongs in our delightful neighborhood video store. We’ll judge whether its programming is sufficient enough to earn a spot in the staff picks shelf, whether it’s no 6000 SUX but no blown up car carcas either and therefore earns a spot in our totally fine middle aisle, or whether it’s just a straight up corporate turd burglar and destined to be sent straight into our dreaded dumpster, where everything is owned by OCP—that’s Omni consumer products—and it sits knee deep in toxic waste.
Working the counter today, we have yours truly, Danielle “Murphy! I’m a mess!” Riendeau and my fellow robo partner, Fernanda “I’d buy that for a dollar!” Prates. How are you today, Fernanda? How you doing? I know there’s a thunderstorm, but how are you?
Fernanda: I’m doing great. Yeah, there is a thunderstorm. So in case you guys hear loud thuds throughout this recording, that’s what happened. I’m doing amazing, hoping that we can get to the bottom of what that guy was looking to buy for a dollar. [both laugh]
Fernanda: I mean, there are not many things that a dollar can buy nowadays, if we’re being honest, but you know, back in the day, who knows?
Danielle: Yeah, it’s like a fifth of a gallon of gas, maybe? [laughs] That’s what you can buy for a dollar. Well, speaking– I guess, speaking of buying things and buying time, this month, we are exploring some of our all time favorite movies after, you know, oops, accidentally ripping a hole into a hell dimension and finding out that reality really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so we’re escaping it for just a little while longer. Welcome to Doom Month, friends, because, well, here we are. This week, we’re watching Robocop.
Danielle: And we’re about to fly right into our first segment, which is Setting the Scene, which is where we introduce the movie at hand and have a little spoiler free chat about our history with it, you know, kind of how we came to the movie. But first, to those somehow unfamiliar with Robocop, here’s a brief summary.
Robocop is a 1987 sci-fi action satire about corporate malfeasance, law enforcement, and sort of the city of Detroit. In it, a cop becomes a Robocop–just kind of like the title; it’s right there in the title—evil corporations run the world, and a lot of shit blows up. I mean, seriously, like a lot of shit blows up. But we’ll get into that in due time. First we shall move on to the Setting the Scene segment, where I must ask: Fernanda, this is your pick for one of your favorites to do in Doom Month, and I want to hear about your Robocop history. What is your history with Mr. Robocop? [both laugh quietly]
Fernanda: Mr. Robocop. I feel like it’s similar to a lot of people’s history, which is the movie’s from ‘87, so, it’s pre-me, but I just remember it being on TV all the time, Robocop and the sequels, I guess. And I just remember being fascinated as a kid by the figure Robocop, even though I thought the movie was scary. Like, I didn’t really…I didn’t really have an understanding of what was happening. I just knew it was scary, and I just knew it was a cop who was also a robot, and that was enough for me. [both laugh] My sensibilities were very…it was easy to sort of entice me as a child, but. And I feel like a lot of people kind of have that. It’s sort of a childhood staple, which is hilarious.
Fernanda: Because again, like many other people, I went on to rewatch it as a grown up, and I was like, this is not for children. This is barely for adults. Like, this is… [both laugh]
Fernanda: Yeah, you’ve mentioned a lot of things blow up. That includes people and, you know, there’s viscera, but there’s also like a lot of satire, a lot of just profound criticism that I don’t feel like children can really grasp. [Danielle laughs] Well, children can’t really grasp Rocko’s Modern Life either, and they want to watch that, but… [both laugh]
Danielle: That’s a good point.
Fernanda: But it is– Rocko’s Modern Life and Robocop. In this essay, I will– no, I will not. [Danielle laughs] This is just about Robocop.
Danielle: Maybe? Yeah? We got somewhere.
Fernanda: Roboko. I don’t know. [Danielle laughs] Robokocop? I don’t know.
Fernanda: We’ll workshop it.
Danielle: [laughs] Robococko?! Okay.
Fernanda: We’ll figure it out. We’ll get there, throughout the show, but.
Fernanda: It is, and to me that’s kind of like the richness of the movie, because it can absolutely…it works as sort of like a standalone classic tropey eighties action movie, late eighties, early nineties action movie. But it is much, much more interesting and richer than it appears like at first sight. And when I rediscovered it in my early twenties, I became completely obsessed with Robocop. And when I say I’m obsessed, I literally have a tattoo of Robocop on my leg.
Fernanda: And I named my dog Murphy, which was not in my early twenties. It was six months ago, so. [both laugh]
Fernanda: Safe to say I’m a little biased, coming into this episode today, but I just really– I have like so many Robocop t-shirts, including one that simply says, “Remember when Robocop shot that guy in the dick?” [Danielle laughs] One of my favorites of my collection, I must say. It really did become, like, I just remember, you know, watching it for the first time as an adult and being like, I was missing out! I just, I spent so many years thinking of Robocop as just this like cool-looking character and just this silly action movie that looks like a lot of action movies of its time, and it’s actually so much more interesting, so much weirder, so much more bizarre and contradictory and meaty than all of that. I think I’ve referred to it in this show as the perfect movie before.
Fernanda: I don’t know. I feel like we’re gonna touch on points that kind of like will maybe negate that a little bit. And it’s hard to call a movie that was made so long ago perfect, because of course the lenses through which we watch this kind of thing completely change, but yeah, I am a Robocop enthusiast, and I would like that to be known by everybody [Danielle laughs] before we venture into this today. I come in with a clear bias, and in case we didn’t clarify this, moving on this month, it’s kind of like our personal faves.
Fernanda: And this was an easy choice for me.
Danielle: Yeah. I’m so glad. When I– when you suggested actually Doom Month, it was pretty awesome, and I was pretty happy about it, because I just want us to enjoy. I want us to enjoy. I want us to jump in and dive in and enjoy, and I don’t have all that long of a history with Robocop. I kind of knew it was a thing, and I knew there were toys, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] which is hilarious.
Fernanda: It’s hilarious.
Danielle: This is like a very anti-corporate anti-capitalist movie at its core.
Danielle: It makes fun of corporations. It makes fun of the military industrial complex. It makes fun of militarized police. It makes fun of all these things, these like really, like you said, super meaty things. It makes fun especially of corporations, and yet it was like a very heavily marketed movie that has toys! It almost got an X rating, like they narrowly avoided an X rating.
Danielle: That’s how fucking violent this movie is, so sure does also, yeah, you know, the snake eating its own tail here of like, who’s making fun of what and, you know, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] corporate America, and this is a perfect encapsulation of the satire that would just continue to become worse and worse and worse in every way.
Danielle: So yes. But I only actually saw it as an adult, like in my thirties. I’ve always loved Verhoeven.
Danielle: You know, in my early twenties, I…well, I suppose I should start with Starship Troopers, which I actually saw in theaters as like a 13 year old when it came out. Loved it! Thought it was the coolest thing ever. Read the fucking book, the Robert Heinlein book, and like sort of vaguely grasped that this was a satire about how stupid this all was and how stupid military industrial complex stuff was. But like, you know, I didn’t fully fully come to appreciate those layers until a little bit later in life. And, you know, loved Basic Instinct, problematic as that movie is, [Fernanda laughs] which it’s nothing but problems.
Fernanda: I have to rewatch it.
Danielle: Still enjoy– yeah, I mean, it’s nothing but problems. It’s problems every frame in that movie. Still, I think, a bit satirical, but also problematic. I love, and I mean love…
Danielle: I think that’s one of the greatest satires ever made. Like I truly do.
Fernanda: Danielle is one of the few like serious… [Danielle laughs] Again, we’re establishing ourselves as a podcast that like unironically likes very peculiar things.
Danielle: Yes. Yes.
Fernanda: Yeah, and you’re– I love that about you, [Danielle laughs] that you remain one of the few like warriors for Showgirls, because you can tell people like, right?
Fernanda: “Oh, I love Showgirls. Like, it’s so bad it’s good.” And no, that’s cynical. Your passion, your love is genuine.
Fernanda: That’s what I love about it.
Danielle: It’s real. It’s very real. I think that movie is a phenomenal satire, just like this is. Like, not all of his movies are satires. I also don’t actually even care if they were purposefully satirical. [laughs] I actually don’t. I don’t care whether or not it was all on purpose or not. It is satire. It is making fun of things. Somebody who made that movie, many of the people making that movie knew was satire, and therefore it’s satire. I’m of that party, I suppose, that school of thought. Also, we can get anything– you know, we can have different reads on things, as long as we have evidence, right? There we go.
Fernanda: Yep. Absolutely.
Danielle: This is a long roundabout way of saying I think it’s one of his masterpieces. This is a phenomenal movie. I don’t think it’s perfect, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s like absolutely one of the best movies made about any of these subjects in the history of the universe.
Danielle: So, yeah. Also we may be watching something that I would consider a close to perfect movie soon, and I also don’t think that’s perfect, so that’s not an indictment of Robocop. Robocop’s fucking awesome. So, brief warning before we get all cyborged up. We’re about to enter our spoiler filled, in depth, Stripping It Down section. So, spoilers are here from a movie from 35 years ago. [both laugh] But there will be spoilers. There will be spoilers. We’re stripping it down.
Danielle: Stripping It Down is the part of the episode where we discuss details of the film, including specific aspects, again, of plot and characters. So, spoiler, spoiler, spoiler. And here we go. Let’s strip it down. Let’s strip down the Robocop. Okay. Fernanda, you love this movie, and I love this movie too. I love how much you love this movie. I want to talk a little bit about one of your first notes here that’s just how it’s like dark and twisted and messy and a miserable little number. That’s kind of what you call it.
Danielle: But it’s still really charming and really funny. I want to hear your feeling about that, ’cause I do love that about this movie, that like it’s truly dark and really gory and also really funny. It’s like really hitting a lot of notes at the same time, which every time I watch it, I expect to be not as impressed. Like I expect for some reason that like, oh, I don’t know, maybe the charm won’t hit me this time.
Danielle: Maybe I’ll be annoyed. And I’m never annoyed. I’m always laughing. [laughs] I’m always like high fiving myself, if I’m by myself watching this movie. So, I want to hear more in your words about like how it threads this needle between these like very dark and very biting moments and also being so silly and so funny and like charming.
Fernanda: Yeah. It’s kind of relatable. [both laugh]
Fernanda: Dark, twisted, messy, miserable, and kind of laughs at itself. I’m like, you know what, Robocop, I can understand that on a deep existential level, [Danielle laughs, “Yeah”] and this is why I love you. Well, let’s start– first of all, this movie’s one hour and a half, one hour and 40 minutes.
Fernanda: Which, as we’ve established: perfect movie duration.
Danielle: That’s a good time.
Fernanda: If Robocop can do all of that in one hour and 40 minutes, literally nobody else needs to do anything– there’s no need for more time for anything, okay?
Danielle: That’s right.
Fernanda: It did everything in that specific period of time, okay? Okay?
Danielle: That’s right, The Master! Put that in your pipe and smoke it! [both laugh]
Fernanda: Okay, Paul Thomas Anderson, Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, okay? [Danielle laughs] But it is. I will quote a lot probably during this show from a writeup by Vince Mancini, who I love, I think is awesome, on Uproxx. He has like a little piece in which he defines Robocop as a Spaghetti Western gunslinger in spirit and Arnold Schwarzenegger meets the rear end of a Cadillac in body. [both laugh] And I think that is the perfect definition. It’s just a weird, weird movie, and I say that because it just– it goes so many unexpected places. It is very gory, but it’s gory to the point where it’s comical, and I think that’s why it could kind of get away with so much. I read a couple of, obviously, oral histories.
Fernanda: Because of course I did, [Danielle laughs] because if there is an oral history out there, I will read it. I will read it, and I don’t– I’m not sorry, okay? I’m not sorry. [Danielle laughs] I actually read two. [laughs]
Fernanda: The writers– so, there were two writers, and the script stayed pretty much intact, because Paul Verhoeven, he had only directed one movie in English. He wasn’t that proficient in English, and he didn’t really understand American culture very deeply. Apparently he said in the extras of the blue ray, he called the movie a piece of shit [both laugh] and said that he had no interest in it whatsoever. And then, once again, as it usually happens in the history of the planet, a woman, his wife particularly, came in and saved the day and told him to give the movie another shot, because he had completely missed the satire, so it just looked freaking silly.
Fernanda: But the writers were talking about how that was kind of like a blessing, because maybe another director would’ve come in and cut a bunch of stuff, and Verhoeven was kind of like, “What is this joke? Explain this joke.” [both laugh] Like, he was just– he wanted to understand it and respect it. And he talked about how his main interest wasn’t in all of that but mostly in the kind of human aspect of Murphy slash Robocop and his sort of like that existential aspect of it, because the movie really is about a lot of things, but among those, this guy who loses sort of his humanity. He gets turned into a machine, and then humanity persists. What a beautiful message. [Danielle laughs]
And he talked about like kind of like how he died kind of like Jesus. There’s a lot, when you start, uh, [Danielle: “Yeah, yeah,” both laugh] looking into how this movie was conceived. But yeah, there– so, you know, and one of the writers was talking about how his co-writer, he believed that– it’s Ed Neumeier is one of the writers and Michael—I forgot his name; it’s here somewhere, I’ll remember it—is the other writer. And he was saying that Ed believes like almost to an annoying extent that you can say a lot more when you say it funny.
Danielle: Mm. Yeah.
Fernanda: And I feel like– ’cause there were versions of the script. There were versions that weren’t as funny. There were versions where there was a romance between Murphy and Lewis, the female agent, who is also the villain in Carrie, mind blowing to me.
Danielle: Oh God, that’s right!
Fernanda: She is, and I watched Carrie coincidentally—for the first time; I hadn’t watched it, the original—the day before watching Robcop, and I was like, [gasps] that’s her! Lewis!
Danielle: That’s her!
Fernanda: See, character development. Nothing like getting killed by Carrie to really turn your life around.
Danielle: Yeah. [both laugh]
Fernanda: But you know, this movie, like, and they ended up landing on this version that was more comic. It’s not necessarily haha funny, but the humor is there all the time. They can get away with so much of the violence, I feel, because it’s bizarre to the point where it is kind of funny, right? They did cut some things, like the scene where…one of the best scenes of the movie, of course, where they’re in the meeting room [Danielle: “Yes”] and the guy gets shredded to freaking pieces by the big bad robot, the ED-209.
Danielle: The ED. Yeah.
Fernanda: Who cannot walk down stairs. [both laugh] Can do a lot, but not stairs.
Danielle: Not stairs.
Fernanda: Poor guy. We all have our limitations.
Danielle: We all have our moments. Yeah.
Fernanda: Yeah. Like that scene, they had cut it a little, because it was too violent. But then at the same time, what stayed is already pretty fucking intense. [laughs] So, to me, that’s kind of like what’s amazing about it. You have sort of these weird little inserts that we’re gonna talk about, like the little commercials that kind of mock so much of the context that the movie is inserted in, right?
Fernanda: Like the movie ended up becoming this big commercial product. Robocop, like you were saying, became a doll, and this is all like– it ends up being a kind of like meta movie in some ways, and sort of like, it’s very tropey.
Fernanda: And we’re gonna talk about this as well, I’m sure, because they talked about how it’s a movie that plays dumb to be smart, and I think that’s very obvious. Like, it appeals to a very classic sort of Republican, Reagan-like tropes. [Danielle laughs] It uses a lot of that, but then it kind of turns it on its head, and it’s a very obviously very anti-Reagan type movie. And I feel like a lot of the things we see in it might not feel as fresh now because it’s been done so many times, but I feel like the way– not only the message, but the way it was delivered was innovative.
Fernanda: I can only imagine watching this movie in ‘87. I don’t really know how I would process it watching it at the time. But also in a way that doesn’t feel too much in your face when it starts to get like a little bit too preachy or, you know, too, quote, unquote, “political” or whatever. Like, there’s not– everything is like, it keeps switching directions on you.
Fernanda: You think it’s going a certain way, and then it goes a completely different way. It’s just a kind of disorienting experience but still within like this sort of very enjoyable format, and I think it’s just such a win for that. That’s why I think it’s such a delicious movie. Like, it manages to pack in a lot and go so many different places. And not all of it is perfect, and sometimes you might feel like maybe a different twist here and there would have made it better, but it doesn’t need to be perfect to kind of like achieve what I believe is a very unique effect.
Danielle: Yeah. I mean, this is a movie about blowing shit up that’s also about how the ultimate evil is a corporate shit bag. [both laugh]
Danielle: And like the worst people in the world are the boardroom people.
Danielle: And that, you know, the criminal man, the drug dealer guy who kills Robocop in a rain of, you know, hellfire Jesus bullets is in cahoots with the same corporate guy. They’re all the same.
Danielle: Like, they’re cut from the same cloth. They’re all fucking awful. You know, they talk about making a more beautiful Detroit, but really it’s just like, oh, they’re just creating more chaos for the drug market. That’s like all they’re really doing, right? That’s kind of the thesis of the movie.
Danielle: But yet, because shit is blowing up all the time, you know, it’s like, oh, everybody can kind of enjoy this. [laughs] Right?
Danielle: On every level, this movie appeals to me as a person who loves sci-fi and loves like the fucked up thoughts about, you know, sort of identity and personality and who are you if you’re not completely you anymore or if you are a cyborg.
Danielle: Like, I’m big into that whole thing, right? Like, I love Star Trek. I love the character of Data who is like, you know, he’s a robot guy. He’s an Android.
Danielle: I love Seven of Nine, who’s like half cybernetic. Like, I love the whole conceit, the whole concept of like, are you you anymore? Which is like kind of what the movie’s also about to some extent, and that is also part of what Verhoenen’s wife like said. [both laugh quietly] I love that quote where he’s like, “It’s a piece of shit!” reading the script, [Fernanda laughs] and then she’s like, look, this is about not knowing who you are anymore if something changes and all this other kind of stuff. Like, there’s so much philosophical weight here.
Danielle: Like, every little sequence of this movie has a few meanings, right?
Danielle: Except for, I suppose, just the explosions?
Danielle: Like just the explosions are almost like palate cleansers. Right, that’s your delicious sorbet in between the meaty courses of like, you know, frankly like political philosophy and really, really interesting more existential philosophy, especially when it comes to like, “Are you Murphy anymore?” you know? “I can feel them, but I can’t remember.” The things like that, right?
Danielle: Like really genuinely deep stuff, and then it’s like a fucking guy, you know, falls in the toxic waste, and now he’s a mutant, and he is a mutant inexplicably for like five whole minutes across several like parts of a sequence. [laughs] All of this appeals to me in my brain. And of course the fact that it, you know, adheres at least largely to like my politics, where the corporate shitbags are shitbags.
Danielle: And they should, you know, be treated as such. And it’s great when the old man falls off the fucking building, ’cause he’s evil. You know, I have some stuff I want to talk about with like, just the fact that we are talking about cops too.
Danielle: That’s a whole-ass thing, for sure, in my notes. But generally, like this is hitting all the bases for me, right? And one of my favorite parts of the movie, always– I talked about palate cleansers, how the explosions are palate cleansers, but we also have like actual palate cleansers, these sort of Mediabreaks, these segments that are sketches and skits [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] and like this misery like news in the apocalypse, like these two plastic ass newscasters who are just like, “Ha ha! Well, the Star Wars peace platform killed a million people today, aha!” You know?
Like, they’re just absolutely [Fernanda: “Yeah”] just taking pot shots at, you know, Reaganomics and the entire political, you know, atmosphere of the time. And also the, you know, “buy it for a dollar” guy. Who doesn’t love him? But I want to ask you…I know you have a good quote here, so I’ll definitely let you read that part as well, but I also genuinely want to ask you what your favorites are. Like, what are your favorite media breaks in this movie? ‘Cause there’s so many. There’s a lot of little segments.
Fernanda: They’re all perfect. I love the little like SUX 6000 dinosaur little…
Danielle: The dinosaur!
Fernanda: The first– one of the early ones, right? When the surgeon is announcing the heart, and you can choose like your sports heart.
Danielle: Ugh, yes!
Fernanda: And there’s an extended guarantee. [laughs] It’s like warranties. “Remember, we care.” But my favorite has to be the family playing like a nuclear holocaust game called Nukem.
Danielle: [laughs] Yeah!
Fernanda: “Nukem: Get ’em before they get you.”
Danielle: Oh my God.
Fernanda: This is like– in a way, it’s very like college project, I feel.
Danielle: Oh, sure. Sure.
Fernanda: Like this is something that like clever-ass like college students would just like, “I’m being so smart right now criticizing corporate America and commercialism and, you know, military culture being like enmeshed with propaganda.” It does feel that in a bit, but again, in the context of this movie, it just works. It’s delicious.
Danielle: Yeah. [laughs]
Fernanda: It’s really delicious. Like, this, and to me, like also, for example, the scene where they’re transforming Murphy into Robocop [Danielle: “Yeah”] and you see it all through his point of view. And people are having, you know, a Christmas party, and, you know, there’s these funny little things, and you can see people rolling their eyes at the sort of the bad guy that created him, right? Because they’re all bad guys, pretty much. [laughs]
Danielle: Yeah, Bob, the corporate shitbag who created him. Yeah. [laughs]
Fernanda: Yeah. So, it’s just, to me, like all those little pieces, I just remember watching it for the first time and being like, “This is so cool!” And then another scene, “This is so cool!” And another scene, “This is so–” [Danielle laughs] like, you– it’s very like unique of an experience, right? Like I feel like there’s value of everything. There is value in some slow movies where kind of nothing happens and you have to see the subtext or whatever. There’s kind of every– there’s a time and place for everything, but to me there’s always a time and place for Robocop, because it’s just so… [laughs]
Danielle: Yes. Yes!
Fernanda: Infinitely entertaining and meaty in that sense, but yeah, it would be– to answer your question directly, it would be the Nukem, ’cause [Danielle: “Yeah”] that family playing that so seriously and the guy talking– the dad talking about like militarizing and attacking his son is just, [kiss sound] it’s very much, chef’s kiss.
Danielle: Uh huh. Yeah.
Fernanda: What’s your favorite?
Danielle: Yeah, I– oh, I love it.
Fernanda: Is it the dinosaur?
Danielle: I mean, I love the dinosaur. [Fernanda laughs] I love the dinosaur, but like, the doctor and the heart gets me every time. Like, every time. The smarmy asshole and like, “We’ve got the sports heart!” and he just like, “Whoa, look at this!” “We care.” I don’t know. There’s something about it that like…I know, cliche, cliche, cliche, but like, my feelings on the American healthcare system [laughs despairingly] and how that works and medical insurance and what a fucking fraud it is. I just sit there, and I’m like, “Ahh, this is good. This is good. This is good. Let’s talk openly about this. This is good.”
Danielle: So yeah, that’s probably my favorite. [laughs]
Fernanda: Yeah, you mentioned like there is a little bit about, uh…it’s Michael Miner, sorry, one of those co-writers.
Danielle: Yes! The other writer, yeah.
Fernanda: The other writer. And he mentioned something about the segments. I’m gonna read sort of this quote that I found in a oral history from Esquire.
Fernanda: “The media segments were Ed Neumeier’s and I attempt at a very snarky, satirical humor. Ideas were bounced around organically, like gags in the writer’s room for a sitcom or Monty Python. Both Ed and I were in the room the whole time for those. There was a lot of back and forth. And Ed is an old hippie who protested the Vietnam War in the streets [Danielle: “Nice”] with an FBI record and everything. [Danielle laughs] Because we were in the midst of the Reagan era, I always characterized Robocop as a comic relief for a cynical time. Milton Friedman and the Chicago boys ransacked the world, enabled by Reagan and the CIA. [Danielle laughs] So when you have this cop who works for a corporation that insists, ‘I own you,’ and he still does the right thing, that’s the core of the film. That’s the fan base, the film’s audience, because they’d been so disenfranchised that it now feels like they could stride back.” So I feel like this is very much like the core of it.
Danielle: [sighs] Yeah.
Fernanda: And I do imagine them just having the time of their lives doing the Mediabreak segments. [both laugh] Like, “What if we did this? Oh, it’s a–” It does feel like one of those like very giggly moments, like, okay, we have kind of like carte blanche to do whatever the fuck we want here. The director doesn’t really speak English that well, and he seems to really trust us, [laughs] so let’s just go bananas with it.
Danielle: Uh huh.
Fernanda: And that, to me, the marriage of that works so well. These two writers and Paul’s sort of like vision, I don’t know if it would have worked in any different way, like if the elements were just slightly different, it feels like it wouldn’t have worked so well. down to like Peter Weller as Robocop.
Fernanda: It just feels like this was the perfect combination for it. This weird movie worked the way that it did– ’cause it could be bad. And reading the oral history is like, several of them were like, “I kind of was interested, but I knew this could just go really bad.” [laughs]
Danielle: Ah, yeah.
Fernanda: They all felt like it had the potential to be a complete stinker, so [both laugh] I do feel like there was a very specific combination of factors for it to be as good as it was.
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah, I…oh God, I so agree. And I also want to pick up on what you’re saying about Weller here too.
Danielle: ‘Cause again, on this viewing…I probably last watched this maybe a year and a half, maybe two year–
Danielle: You know what? It was probably pre-pandemic, so at least two and a half years, [laughs] but definitely like in my thirties. So like, in the era of my life that I’m generally in. This time I’ve really noticed what a phenomenal job I think that Weller did [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] acting in a ridiculously difficult circumstance. When actors need to play a character that doesn’t have many emotions, like again, you know, something like Data or Seven of Nine. I’m picking my Star Trek buds here because they’re just like an easy reference for like, oh, these are like cybernetic people or robot people, right?
Danielle: What a hard job! Or, you know, even Spock, you know, all the actors who played Spock in Star Trek over the years, [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] like a person who struggles with their emotions and tries not to have them. Like, how you do that as an actor and not [Fernanda: “Yeah”] be just boring and flat affect?
Danielle: That’s a massive challenge. And he does such an incredible job here being like, honestly like a fairly warm presence, [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] even when he is in his most Robocop-ass Robocop, [Fernanda laughs] you know, before his programming gets a little fucked up and he has feelings again [Fernanda: “Yeah”] and, you know, has like real human moments with Lewis, ’cause he does, and they have like a real connection, but I love that it’s a bromance and not a romance. I really do love that.
Danielle: It’s just, she’s his partner, and, you know, they care about each other on a real level, but they’re not fucking, and they don’t have to have a romance, and it doesn’t have to be cheesy like that. It can just be, yeah, they’re helping each other. “Murphy, I’m a mess!” Like, that’s so much better than like, [goofy swooning voice] “Ah, Murphy, sweep me off my feet!” Sorry, I’m– you know, listen. Heterosexuals are allowed, and I’m not against it. I’m just saying, it doesn’t always have to be the same shit.
Fernanda: No, it’s refreshing. Exactly.
Danielle: That’s all I’m saying at all. Yeah, again. But yeah, Weller does an amazing job as, you know, in limited scenes as a person. And then–
Danielle: Well, he’s always a person. Sorry, that was not the right way to put that. Limited scenes as like a just completely normal human, I suppose. And then, you know, extensive scenes as a robot man, you know, a cybernetic man who’s part robot. Even like the funniest shit that happens when he is like the robot guy, like when he shoots the– uh, content warning here. Content warning for, you know, it’s in a very ridiculous setting, but it is like implied that there are two men who are trying to assault a woman.
Danielle: When he shoots that guy in the dick, and then the woman comes over– like, this is actually like really funny. And again, like it’s played with humor, even though he has to have a very flat affect, it’s still played with such humor. You know, the woman kind of comes over. She’s like, “Oh my God, you saved me!” She’s real happy about it. And he’s just, [robotically] “Madam, you have suffered a shock.” Like, there’s just something…he’s both being robotic, and it’s still funny. There is some warmth there. There’s some presence there. I’m just like really, really impressed by his acting in this movie where he was also in this massive suit, he could barely move, and he’s still emoting, and he’s still a person in there.
Danielle: And that’s impressive to me.
Fernanda: That’s a guy who is invested, right, in this thing.
Fernanda: A fun like little fact is that they considered Schwarzenegger for the role, [Danielle laughs] which would’ve been freaking ridiculous. Like, he had just done Terminator.
Danielle: It would’ve been funny in a different way. [laughs]
Fernanda: But like, why would you keep doing robots?
Danielle: Right, right.
Fernanda: But like, they thought that he was gonna look too bulky, and he would have.
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah.
Fernanda: He would’ve looked absolutely ridiculous, while Peter Weller was a less sort of imposing presence, and he apparently was very interested in the role.
Fernanda: And Peter actually trained– Peter, uh, we’re on first name basis. Peter and I have…
Danielle: He’s our bud. Yeah.
Fernanda: I’ve watched him enough times in this movie that we’re… [Danielle laughs] He’s my personal friend.
Fernanda: He actually trained with like a mime for months and apparently like [Danielle: “Wow”] used like a football outfit, like the football gear to walk around the park to kind of like simulate the difficulties of wearing the suit, but he– [laughs] but the suit was very delayed. They were already like a couple of weeks, I guess, into filming when the suit was finally ready, and…
Fernanda: Verhoeven admitted it was his fault, because like he kept wanting things that weren’t doable, apparently, for the suit.
Danielle: Ah, sure.
Fernanda: And then he says like, “And they kept saying, ‘No, it doesn’t work.’ And then I would see it, and it didn’t work.” [both laugh]
Danielle: Oh no! Paul!
Fernanda: Like, at least he admits it. I don’t know.
Danielle: Yeah, that’s good. He’s honest about it, you know?
Fernanda: But the suit was super delayed, and then when Peter Weller put it on, it was much, much harder to move in than he even expected. So there was a crisis, apparently. The mime guy who trained him and was called in– I read another oral history, but I could only read like part of it, ’cause it was on the Wayback Machine, and the second page was an error message. But the mime guy’s really like overplaying his role that he had to [Danielle: “Ah…”] come in the studio because Peter Weller was having a breakdown. He didn’t want to do it. He was very like despondent, and he had to come in and– I don’t know how much of that is actually true, but yeah, apparently like just the suit proved to be challenging, and he had to really adapt to a new movement, and that’s kind of like how his gait was created.
But this– I mean, imagine it not being this. It’s hard to. The suit is so, so perfect. It’s just like streamlined and discrete but also like, it does– it is menacing but not too much. It really feels like what they would put a cop in. And then Peter Weller also talked about how he needed a lot of like zenlike patience [Danielle: “Ah”] to be Robocop, because he was in makeup for like six hours, six hours and a half, and you know, his shooting days ended up being very long, because he obviously required a lot more pre-work other than actually shooting the scenes than everyone else. I think he was preparing for like a triathlon or a marathon at the time.
Fernanda: So he was like very healthy and straight-laced, and he talked about how he hung out with the bad guys in the movie, [Danielle laughs] because they were also like the health nuts of the crew, [Danielle: “Yeah”] and he was like very slim. And he talked about like, it took a lot out of him. Like, he needed to be a person who was invested in this character to make it work. And it needed to be a person who I think was aware of the humor but didn’t play it up, [Danielle: “Yeah”] because it could have gotten goofy real fast, and it didn’t, like it really is a perfect balance. So I agree with what you said. Like, he finds a way to– we can only see his chin, and still like, it’s saying something. And it’s a good chin. Good chin.
Danielle: It is!
Fernanda: Good on you, Peter Weller.
Danielle: [laughs] Good chin, Peter!
Fernanda: Congratulations on that. But yeah, like, it…of course a different actor would’ve been a different thing, and maybe it would’ve been better. Who knows? But I do feel like he just…everybody in this movie, like the acting is just completely spectacular. Like, Clarence Boddicker is the most under–
Danielle: Oh my God.
Fernanda: He’s truly one of the baddest baddies, completely underrated all time villain played by Kurtwood Smith, and he’s just so good as this like nerdy-looking, weird, coldhearted, evil villain guy. Everybody who plays the corporate suits, who I guess are all famous actors; I don’t know them. But like all the corporate suits, they’re so good at playing these slimey, like uptight, greedy asshole bastards who deserve to die. And obviously like, Lewis—I forgot her name, Nancy something—like sort of being this sensitive sort of break just really works.
Danielle: Right. Right.
Fernanda: The acting like, again, the acting also– the tone had to be very specific for it not to end up being ridiculous. Nancy Allen.
Danielle: Ah, yes, yes, yes.
Fernanda: Thank you, our wonderful producer Jordan for reminding me. It had to be played a very specific way for it not to go like full parody, for it to stay in the satire realm and not go into parody, and I just feel like everybody kind of did their parts really well for it not to go that way, including…Verhoeven is in a scene.
Fernanda: The scene in the club where everybody’s dancing. He was showing people how to dance, and they kept it in the movie. So even Paul contributed with his acting chops in it.
Danielle: [laughs] I love that, that that’s like, he’s like, “This is how you should dance!” [laughs] There he is, like having a great time. That’s extremely funny.
Fernanda: I mean, that club did look like a good time. Everybody looked amazing.
Danielle: It looked like fun!
Fernanda: I’m just gonna say–
Danielle: One of my favorite– yeah, go ahead, please.
Fernanda: The bad guys are really well dressed. I’m just gonna say.
Danielle: They’re really well dressed. They’re having a great fucking time.
Fernanda: [laughs] Right.
Danielle: Like, they’re having the time of their goddamn lives. Like they’re just like, we’re having a party. We’re blowing up cars. We’re having fun, man. Like, they are having a good old time in this movie. My God, they super are.
Fernanda: We’re gonna shoot this guy to pieces, and we’re just gonna laugh at it. It’s just gonna be like a very enjoyable experience for all of us. And you know what? I kind of admire this commitment to being a psychopath. You know?
Danielle: If you’re gonna do it, go all the way. [laughs]
Fernanda: Just like, man, don’t be all like, “I’m sorry. I repent.” No. Just, if you’re gonna be a bad guy, get the gun and start exploding cars and melt in a tub of acid. Like, that’s what I want from you.
Danielle: All the way.
Fernanda: And I would argue [Danielle: “Yeah”] that Paul McCrane played a worse villain later in his life, because he was Dr. Robert Romano in ER, [Danielle laughs] and that is objectively the most detestable character in the history of everything that’s ever been made. So, I feel like… [laughs]
Danielle: Yeah, it’s a lot worse than like dancing guy with gun, right? Like. [laughs] Right?
Fernanda: I mean…
Fernanda: My personal– maybe like, you know what? I don’t think Romano ever like literally shot anyone to death, so there’s that.
Danielle: Yeah, that’s true.
Fernanda: Yeah, not to minimize homicide. We’re generally against it, but…
Danielle: Right, right, yes. Yeah.
Fernanda: And he…and think about it this way. This guy had two of the most memorable deaths in the history of things that happen on screens, because [Danielle: “Yeah”] obviously, this villain dies. Well, he first melts, [Danielle: “Yeah”] literally, and then explodes, which, metal as fuck.
Danielle: All over. Like, all over, like the most…so there’s a lot of explosions, right? But like, this is an explosion of like the stuff going everywhere, which you don’t really see in most of the other explosions in this. [laughs]
Danielle: So, yeah.
Fernanda: This is– it’s very visceral, and I mean that very literally.
Danielle: Yeah. [both laugh]
Fernanda: And then he dies as Dr. Romano, first a helicopter removes his arm. And then, years later, a helicopter falls on top of him. Amazing.
Danielle: Absolutely. Iconic deaths.
Fernanda: So, good on Paul McCrane for having… [both laugh] Whatever happens, he got to claim these two beautiful deaths and also the fact that he was in two masterpieces, because ER is arguably one of the best TV shows of all time. But again, again, subject for another time, just wanted to speak it.
Danielle: No, no, I’m with you.
Fernanda: I feel like we don’t have a lot–
Danielle: Yeah, I’m super with you. [both laugh]
Fernanda: We don’t have a lot of occasions to bring up ER, so I just slid that in there.
Danielle: It’s true, we don’t. And that’s, you know, that’s on us, really. There should be more occasions to bring up ER, I think. I agree.
Fernanda: This is me pitching my ER rewatch podcast.
Danielle: The ER– yeah, the ER, like, Scenes from the ER, like Watching the ER? I don’t know. There’s like terms. We’ll come up with a term. I’ll think of a term.
Fernanda: [laughs] We’ll workshop it.
Danielle: There’s a lot of ER terms. I know a lot of them. [laughs] I do want to talk about the things that are complications with the movie.
Danielle: Again, I love Robocop. I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s very good. There are some bits and pieces that we can maybe talk about, and there are– you did also have some great quotes for these, so I do want to kind of dig into this. Obviously, the biggest thing, I think…this is a pretty progressive movie, I think, in general.
Danielle: Especially for the eighties. And it was prescient in certain ways, like the militarization of police. Like, it was like funny to see police going out in armor in this.That’s what they do now. They wear…a lot of cops wear, you know, body armor. They wear the vests. That’s a thing that they all kind of do now. Pretty common.
Danielle: A lot of, again, a lot of prescient things. Corporate like ownership over law enforcement. Well, you know, the prison industrial complex. What is that, right? However, we are still somewhat glorifying cops here.
Danielle: Our main character who we love is a cop.
Fernanda: He’s a cop.
Danielle: He’s Robocop, right, but he’s a cop.
Danielle: And this is a little bit complicated to, you know, kind of sit here and, and deal with in 2022. So. [sighs] It’s not that I think everything needs to, you know, conform to what I think is good in the world. I don’t think that, by any means. But I have to admit that that is a complexity to kind of deal with, to kind of reckon with, and I wanted to know how you kind of reckon with that . This is a movie that you love, and you should, because I love it too. [laughs] See, this is me saying, “Oh, you know, things don’t have to conform to my ideal.” [laughs] But yeah, I kind of want to know how you do reckon with that, and I know you have some stuff here about that as well, so.
Fernanda: So, I don’t. I pretend it’s not happening. That’s my… [Danielle laughs] That’s how I go about the problems in my adult life, and that’s why I’m thriving, clearly. [Danielle laughs] Everything is going swimmingly for me. Now, the…you know, absolutely, and here’s the thing, right? Like, I have a cop tattooed on my leg, sometimes when I think about it. [laughs]
Danielle: Sure, sure. I mean, I get it. It’s a satirical Robocop, [Fernanda: “Yeah”] and there are there things with it. So it’s not like you just have like a thin blue line or something. [both laugh] Like, don’t…you know, don’t throw yourself all the way under the bus there for that, please.
Fernanda: I just kind of go like, no, so here’s my thinking, right? Like, no, it’s an homage to the movie. It’s not an homage–
Fernanda: It’s not me glorifying this character, which again, like the movie has a lot more layers than that. But it does…it does read different now than it did to me 10 years ago, right?
Fernanda: When I first saw it as an adult, when the conversation around like the cop glorification situation wasn’t as strong as it is now in the year of our lord 2022. So.
Fernanda: It’s like I said, it’s not that even they necessarily glorify them, but it’s also not not glorifying. [laughs]
Danielle: It’s kinda sympathetic to them, right? ‘Cause we show…
Danielle: And like, Verhoeven does this with the soldiers in Starship Troopers too. He shows them as like working stiffs, right?
Danielle: That’s kind of the idea. They’re almost like the crew from Aliens.
Danielle: Right? Where it’s like, these people are soldiers, but like, we see them like in the shower room, we see them caring about their colleague who died.
Danielle: And like, that’s a very direct contrast. That’s really set up almost exactly against Bob the corporate shitheel not caring about the guy who just got killed in the board meeting. “That’s life in the big city,” and instead like the cops care about each other.
Danielle: They seem to care about human beings. So it’s like, maybe glorification isn’t…if I put that, I apologize.
Fernanda: No, I don’t think you did.
Danielle: It may not have been the right word, but like sympathy for this point of view, right?
Danielle: They’re very much– and they’re in a union, right? And they talk about striking. Like, they talk about just kind of being blue collar workers [Fernanda: “Yeah”] more than anything, in like a very sympathetic sense that the film has for them.
Fernanda: Yeah. On the other hand, it’s pro-union, ’cause the cops strike.
Fernanda: And also Lewis and Murphy are kind of dumb, so. [laughs]
Danielle: Definitely true. [laughs]
Fernanda: The way they enter that situation in the warehouse [Danielle: “Yeah”] is just like, guys, no. What are you doing? I’ve never been a cop a single day in my life, and I’d be like, maybe I’m not gonna go without reinforcements, without backup into this warehouse full of criminals. And then Lewis–
Danielle: And they have 30 minutes to backup, and they’re just like– there’s no pressing– there’s not like a person being killed or tortured in that moment.
Fernanda: Exactly, there’s no need!
Danielle: Y’all can wait. [laughs]
Fernanda: But alas, they do not.
Fernanda: Maybe that’s one way of critiquing it. And then this leads into another aspect, right? Like, it is a very white dude movie.
Danielle: Sure, sure, sure.
Fernanda: There are some characters of color, but it’s like far and in between. They’re not the main characters.
Danielle: Like eight lines each. Yeah, basically.
Fernanda: Yeah, exactly.
Fernanda: Like the guy, the criminal who laughs a lot, like basically.
Danielle: Yeah, that guy. Yeah. Right.
Fernanda: So it’s like, that’s very much the sensibility of the time, right?
Fernanda: And the only female character is Lewis, who gets distracted because she looks at a guy’s penis, so kinda like…
Danielle: Right. Like, hrrmm.
Fernanda: Hmm. [Danielle grumbles] She does get a chance to prove her value and her courage.
Danielle: She does.
Fernanda: Obviously, she’s the one who saves Robocop later on.
Fernanda: You know, running risks of her own. So it’s not like this female character is reduced to this, but you know?
Fernanda: Like, that kinda thing, and then considering it’s the only female character in the movie, or you know, the woman being raped.
Danielle: Yeah, yeah.
Fernanda: You talked about it. Again, content warning, but it’s an attempted assault. We don’t see an assault, fortunately, [Danielle: “Right”] but it is a very kind of like, it’s an attemptedly humorous scene, and as satisfying as it is to see like a guy who was attempting to assault a woman being literally shot in the dick through her legs… [laughs]
Danielle: Yeah. Yep. [laughs]
Fernanda: It is. And I think it was Michael Miner who said in one of the pieces I was reading, I can’t recall if it’s the oral history or Mancini’s piece, but he was talking about how Verhoeven had this sort of like juvenile sense the humor that appeared sometimes, and this was one of the cases where he was very much a 13 year old.
Danielle: Sure. Yeah.
Fernanda: You know, there are certain things that, in hindsight– [laughs]
Danielle: Right, right, yeah.
Fernanda: When I’m like looking at them with my 2022 eyes. But especially, like you said, sort of the cop aspect of it all. They read a little…mm. I don’t know about all that.
Danielle: [laughs] Yeah, yeah.
Fernanda: But to quote…I’ve got a quote from the Mancini piece, which includes a couple of quotes from Neumeier and Miner that kind of address this that I think is interesting.
Fernanda: And I quote, “Of course, the movie also posits a future beset by cackling sex-crazed criminals who rob banks, kill cops, rape women, and sling drugs, the kind of fear that would fit nicely into an ad for Reagan himself, [Danielle laughs] especially the younger version running for governor of California on a platform of playing hardball with the longhairs. Moral blight was the problem, “law and order” was the solution, personified by a gun-twirling cowboy—albeit a cyborg version designed by a corrupt corporation—come to clean up the town, all imagery that the Hollywood cowboy Reagan surely would have loved.
Fernanda: “‘That is a cop trope, right?’ Miner says. ‘Crime was out of control, blah, blah, blah. It’s a very Republican idea.’
‘We were trying to be tropey a little bit, even though that wasn’t a word then,’ Neumeier says. ‘We were trying to say there’s a guy. He’s a cop. His name is Murphy. We were trying to go for cliches, running with a lot of cliches as it were. I mean, basically, the movie’s playing dumb to be smart.’” So.
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. I’ll buy that for a dollar! [both laugh] Sorry.
Fernanda: Perfect placement. Amazing.
Danielle: I had an opportunity. I saw it. I took the swing.
Fernanda: Amazing. Truly terrific timing.
Danielle: The playing dumb to be smart, yeah, I get it. [laughs]
Fernanda: But it’s like, you can’t expect a movie to be completely, entirely progressive and perfect.
Danielle: From 1987, especially. [both laugh]
Fernanda: Exactly. Things would read a little different. And then when you think about like how, okay, the writers were progressive, admittedly, like we’re talking about a hippie [Danielle: “Yeah, yeah”] and somebody who like, you know, people who opposed Reaganomics. Even Peter Weller in one of the things I read was like, “Yeah, fuck trickle down economy,” basically. And he–
Danielle: Nice. Yeah.
Fernanda: And Paul Verhoeven has like a PhD. These are like smart people, all of them.
Danielle: [laughs] Right.
Fernanda: I didn’t know about it, but he has a PhD in like physics or some smart people shit.
Danielle: That makes sense, yeah. [both laugh]
Fernanda: But him being from– yeah, like him being from outside of the country and not necessarily being invested in some of those aspects, like we have to sort of understand these new nuances. And we talked about this with several films, right? Like, and it becomes especially complicated when we’re talking about movies that we actually love that we have to sort of balance out the understanding of the time, the, okay, this isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t necessarily subtract from the rest. ‘Cause like we were saying, it’s not the perfect movie, but I don’t know necessarily if that exists, ’cause at the same time, a movie that would be worried…a movie in those lines that would be worried more about the social, the issues and the questions that we have now, might not have necessarily the same type of humor or the same type of, you know, quirkiness that a movie like Robocop did. Like, Vince Mancini said something that I also thought was very interesting, that a hero now, the stakes are really high, right?
Fernanda: And that has to do with technology and CGI, but like a hero now, to do a heroic thing, it’s like, he would have to save an entire planet. He would have to like save the world, [Danielle laughs] and Robocop just– I don’t remember his exact words, but like just wanted to fuck up some guys who were getting on his nerves. [both laugh]
Fernanda: So it’s like, perhaps because of technology, you know, and just natural barriers, the fact that the stakes weren’t as high actually made it more interesting. It’s easier to be invested—and that’s something he said—on like a single character than it is sometimes to be invested in the whole entire planet.
Fernanda: So, you know, it’s hard to think. And there was a more modern Robocop, and I saw it, and it was directed by a Brazilian director, Padilha.
Danielle: Oh, interesting.
Fernanda: And I remember literally zero of it, so… [Danielle laughs] That must say something. I’m not even saying it’s bad. I know some people don’t like it. I literally don’t remember enough to say if it’s good or bad.
Danielle: Gotcha. [laughs]
Fernanda: But it’s certainly not the masterpiece that this one was, with all its flaws.
Danielle: Yeah. God, yeah. I remembered that they had made another one, but I didn’t remember that they had made another one. So yeah, it’s one of those! [laughs]
Fernanda: I think it was 2017, even. Like, it’s very–
Danielle: Not that long ago.
Fernanda: I saw it in the movies. Yeah.
Fernanda: And I was like, oh, it’s Padilha. He directed a very famous Brazilian movie called Elite Squad.
Fernanda: It was…literally everybody in Brazil could fucking quote that movie. Like, it was enormous.
Danielle: Oh, wow.
Fernanda: And it’s from 2014. So it was the thing like, oh, that’s so cool that a Brazilian director gets to do this like super high budget Hollywood thing. Like, for Brazilians, it’s always a– whenever we see like one of our own doing a big Hollywood thing, we’re like, “Fuck yeah! Do that, guy.” but I just don’t remember literally anything about the movie. [Danielle laughs] Like, I…complete– I remember Abby Cornish is in it. That’s what I can tell you about it.
Danielle: Okay, okay. Sure, sure, sure.
Fernanda: Yeah, it’s from 2014.
Danielle: Wow. Gotcha.
Fernanda: And apparently Gary Oldman and Michael Keaton are in it, so.
Fernanda: There’s that, but I don’t know who the–
Fernanda: Yeah. I don’t know who Robocop is, so. Joel Kinnaman. Yeah, whatever. But yeah, so, you know, we have to kind of like…many of the things that make it stylish and even some of the things that we were talking about, right? Like the assaulting or, you know, Lewis, “Mind if I zip this up?” [laughs]
Fernanda: Looking, you know, basically helping get her partner kind of killed—’cause he didn’t die—because she was looking…
Fernanda: ‘Cause she couldn’t resist looking at a guy’s penis or whatever. [Danielle laughs] Like, that’s…I find it maybe less sexist than it is a reflection of what was considered funny or humorous at the time.
Danielle: Sure, sure, yeah.
Fernanda: And any product that is humorous…dude, comedy ages in very specific ways. We know that. [laughs]
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah. That’s for damn sure. Yup. [laughs]
Fernanda: Maybe if it was in like a straight up serious movie it would be better? Still would have the cop situation? I don’t know. Yeah.
Fernanda: But I agree with you. It’s not perfect. There are some things that now we kind of don’t necessarily…don’t read as progressive as they did, and it’s a movie that purports itself to be sort of anti-conservative.
Fernanda: But that I can kind of forgive, given the rest.
Danielle: Yeah, then there are things– yeah, of course. This is a 35 year old movie. It’s almost funny. It almost feels fresher than it is, in a lot of ways, [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] because of like what it’s kind of saying about, you know, the carceral state more or less is like, yeah! of course! this was made like 10 years ago, right? And it’s like, oh, yeah, right. This is an entire era, several eras of American politics ago. That is almost wild to sort of consider, to think about it. But yeah. Fernanda, are there other things you wanted to address before we move on to shelf life? I want you to have your time here. I know this is a special movie for you.
Fernanda: [laughs] No. I feel like I’ve ranted a bunch. if this didn’t convince you to watch Robocop, I don’t know what will! [Danielle laughs] Honestly, what are you waiting for? It’s literally one hour and 40 minutes.
Danielle: It’s one of the best hours and 40 minutes of filmmaking you’re gonna watch, like honestly.
Danielle: Yeah, it is.
Fernanda: It’s not gonna take up too much of your time, and you’re gonna get so much out of it. No, I kind of wanted to recommend, again, the Mancini piece [Danielle: “Yeah”] on Uproxx that is just…it’s not a review, ’cause it’s not like, “Oh, this movie’s good because of this and that.” It’s very much a [Danielle: “Right”] Robocop is awesome, here’s why. [laughs]
Danielle: Yeah, I mean, sure.
Fernanda: I can respect. And he touches on this thing that you just mentioned, that much of the joy of watching Robocop today comes from the sense that it couldn’t be made today, even as the content seems almost eerily relevant.
Fernanda: And that’s kind of it, right? It’s a contradictory movie in many ways. It feels very fresh and relevant in many ways, and then in others, it’s kind of like, this is very spec– it speaks very specifically to a time. It wouldn’t necessarily make that much sense now, which to me makes it special. It makes it like a very…to me, that’s kind of like the goal, right? You can make something that is sort of a capsule of a time that speaks to a moment, and also that you can apply it, even if it’s in your own head, to current contexts. And that, to me, is where it’s just like very successful. But also I wanted to share a bit of gossip. [laughs]
Danielle: Please. Do the goss– bring out the hot goss, the hot Robocop goss. Let’s do it.
Fernanda: It’s such stupid gossip. I was reading–
Danielle: No, I love it.
Fernanda: And the oral history has a stuntwoman, Jeannie Epper, talking in it, and then she’s talking about how the car chase scenes were her favorite, and then she just literally drops this, okay? Quote, “My brother Gary and I were both going through a very raw, horrific divorce. My husband ran off with my brother’s wife.”
Danielle: Oh my God!
Fernanda: [laughs] “We didn’t know whether to kill each other or chase each other off a cliff. The car chases were a great way to get rid of all that stress. [both laugh] We were so happy to be together, because we didn’t blame each other, but we sort of did blame each other. [both laugh] All my friends were there, and I felt comfortable with everybody. That made me feel better.” Like…
Danielle: Oh my God!
Fernanda: What? And this is in the middle of an oral history about Robocop, and like then there’s this stunt people drama with the wife and the husband running off with the–
Danielle: Oh my God.
Fernanda: Amazing. Amazing.
Danielle: Wild. Wild! Oh my God! [both laugh]
Fernanda: And one last recommendation before I close it off, there’s also a…uh, Guernica Mag writeup [Danielle: “Yes, yes”] that talks about Robocop and the groin kicks. And it’s a whole thing about how the whole movie is just basically a giant dick joke, which makes sense, [Danielle: “Mm-hmm”] because it talks about Johnson and Dick, and they repeat–
Danielle: Yep, yep.
Fernanda: Like, it is, and how like–
Danielle: Isn’t ED, like, maybe– alright. Maybe it wasn’t even a reference, exactly.
Danielle: But erectile dysfunction.
Danielle: I know that like Viagra wasn’t a thing yet, so I don’t know if people are saying ED all the time. That’s why I’m like, is it or isn’t it? ‘Cause I don’t know if that’s me applying my brain now. I mean, erectile function was a thing, but like, did people talk about it like that? I don’t know. I was three in 1987. I had no idea what that meant. [laughs]
Fernanda: Look, everything–
Danielle: Anyway, that’s a possibility. [laughs]
Fernanda: It is. Everything is a dick joke if you have the right mindset. That’s all I’m gonna say.
Danielle: Sure, sure, sure. Yep.
Fernanda: And you know, it kind of like dives into how the last resort for all the criminals trying to beat Robocop is kick him in the balls that he doesn’t have.
Danielle: He doesn’t have ‘em. Yep.
Fernanda: Because he’s not a sexual being, and how that does nothing, and just kind of like how that…and sort of how that plays into the masculinity tropes, and…
Fernanda: The name of the essay is called “Austerity Economics Is Like a Kick in the Groin: Robocop’s lessons for our time,” [Danielle laughs] and it was with a wonderful illustration.
Danielle: Ah, fantastic.
Fernanda: It’s just, it’s spectacular and very trippy, and it also like makes you look at the movie in a different light. So I guess that’s– I feel like we’ve given you enough here [Danielle: “Ah, yes”] to understand why I appreciate this movie so much and why, if you haven’t watched it, fix it immediately.
Danielle: Fix it.
Fernanda: Literally, what else is there for you to do with your life right now? Nothing. Do this.
Danielle: [laughs] Highly recommend it. Well, I do think I know where we’re gonna come down, but we are moving into Shelf Life!
Danielle: This is where we decide where the movie belongs in our video store. If it’s a bona fide staff pick displayed proudly– there’s no way it’s not gonna be, but anyway, I gotta say the rest of this stuff. [laughs]
Fernanda: The suspense is killing me, Danielle.
Danielle: I think we know on this one. If it’s a middle aisle placement, or if the deuce needs the dumpster out back where famously only one movie, [Fernanda laughs] only one movie actually went to the dumpster. However, there were a couple that are sniffing the dumpster. They’re pretty close, and we know about that. Now, Fernanda, I think I know.
Fernanda: Mm, I wonder.
Danielle: I think I know, but listen, formalities do exist, occasionally, for a reason. Where does this sit for you?
Fernanda: In my defense, even some of my beloved Van Damme movies, I was like, to me, this is not a stuff pick.
Fernanda: Like, I love it, [Danielle: “Right”] but I don’t think it is like a spectacular movie, right?
Fernanda: In this case, however, it is the easiest decision I’ve had on this entire show. [Danielle laughs] It is, to me, like if we have a little section, like on my birthday, like Fernanda’s picks, like to celebrate my birthday by watching my favorite movies [Danielle: “Yeah!”] and there’s like three movies there, Robocop will absolutely be there. And I will say this: I dove deep today. I was reading so many reviews, not all of them positive.
Fernanda: And I was kind of like, you know, and the things we were talking about, they were all festering in my mind. And I’m like, could it be that I don’t love this movie anymore?
Danielle: Aw. [laughs sympathetically]
Fernanda: Or that I don’t love it as much? Or, you know, I can see these points. I can see these things, and maybe I should reevaluate. But no, Danielle, no. [Danielle laughs] Even reading all of it, after our conversation, after deep contemplation, marination, [Danielle laughs] this is a staff picks shelf.
Danielle: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I like it even more after talking about it. I often like the movies that we talk about even more [Fernanda: “Mm-hmm”] or dislike them even more, like I often… [Fernanda laughs] No, not–
Fernanda: It magnifies.
Danielle: I don’t even want to say more calcified, to be honest, because sometimes I’ve gone into something being like, [groans in disgust and rage] and then talked about it and actually loved it. So it’s not like calcifying, it’s more like I’m uncovering a little bit of, you know, I’m like, unburying some feelings as we talk about these movies kind of thing. And, oh, I love it even more after talking about it with you, absolutely. And I like that we can talk about things that, hey, maybe it’s not perfect. Maybe it hasn’t aged well. Maybe there’s some things that weren’t the best thing in this movie. It’s still a fucking classic. It’s still a fucking banger. It’s still awesome in so many ways, and it still has like a lot of really genuinely good things to say. [laughs]
Danielle: While having the time of its goddamn life saying them. So yeah, absolute staff picks shelf. Pretty high up there too, I would say. Oh, fantastic. All right, well, there you have it, dear friends. That’s Robocop. That’s the scoop on Robocop here in Doom Month. I’m gonna say that’s what we have for you this week. Thank you so much to my wonderful co-host. Now that we are hanging out in the depths of Hell, watching movies that we love, [Fernanda laughs] it’s cozy here. You know, it’s cozy.
Fernanda: It’s warm.
Danielle: [laughs] It’s warm.
Fernanda: The weather is surprisingly nice.
Danielle: You know, it’s relatively pleasant in the bunker in Hell that we’re watching the movies in.
Fernanda: Yeah, and there’s bottomless mimosas on Friday.
Fernanda: I love it.
Danielle: ??? mimosa. That’s what it is. [both laugh] It’s a bottomless pit of mimosa. I love it. Thank you so much, Fernanda, for joining me. As always, it’s such a pleasure, and also, thanks, just thanks for doing this with me, you know? Thanks. Thanks for hanging out in Hell with me.
Fernanda: My pleasure. Thank you for your cooperation. Ha!
Danielle: [laughs] Uh huh.
Fernanda: Slid that in there, slid that in there.
Danielle: Yeah, just throw that in. Throw it in. I like it. And thank you.
Fernanda: Dead or alive, I’m going with you. No? Okay, I’ll stop.
Danielle: Honestly, I’d pick you. [Fernanda laughs] I’d pick you to hang out in Hell, I’m not gonna lie. We would have fun together. We would talk about movies. We would play with like some Van Damme kicks. It would be all right, you know? We would make it better. It’s the company you keep.
Fernanda: Van Damme might even join us there at some point. [laughs]
Danielle: Van Damme might be there. You know, he might come through.
Fernanda: Sorry, Van Damme. I don’t know.
Danielle: Who could say?
Fernanda: You seem like a good guy. I’m sorry. Just a comment.
Danielle: Yeah. It, you know, it’s kinda…I feel like it’s down to administrative issues too. [Fernanda laughs] I think we’re both pretty good people too, so it’s like, listen, sometimes the paperwork gets fucked up. You spend a few days in Hell. I don’t know! You know?
Fernanda: We just slip through the literal cracks of earth all the way down to Hell.
Danielle: Yeah. We made a little bit of a Hellgate. Hey, maybe we were swimming at the bottom of the lake. I don’t know. You know?
Danielle: Sometimes you just swim in a lake, and you’re a teenager in the eighties. I don’t know. These things happen. But anyway, thank you, Fernanda. Thank you to my dear friends at home. Thank you to every listener. We really do appreciate it. Thank you so much, of course, to our fantastic producer, Jordan “Excuse me. I have to go. Somewhere, there is a podcast happening” Mallory. Thank you so much, Jordan. [laughs]
Fernanda: Perfect nickname! Chef’s kiss.
Danielle: [laughs] It’s really good. That’s really, really good. That’s perfect, Jordan. Thank you. Ah. If you are tired of just listening and want to say some stuff too, that’s just dandy, ’cause as it happens, we’d love to hear from you. If you want to get in touch with us, go ahead into our lively Discord at fanbyte.casa or send an email to YLTSI@fanbyte.com. That’s You Love to See It but YLTSI@fanbyte.com. You can send reviews, recommendations, anything you’d like. And if you do like the work that we do and want to show us some support, please rate and review us on Apple Podcasts or rate us on Spotify. It goes a very long way in helping us out. You can find links to our other podcasts, our Discord, and our socials in the show notes. And until next time, dear friends, you love to see it.