January 30, 2014


I liked this movie. Why? Not because of the action packed scenes- Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit definitely wins in terms of intensity and heart pumping action. However, i guess you can’t really complain about watching a shoot out here and there. What i felt was the main highlight of this movie though which I was pleasantly surprised about were the ethical issues it brought out- man and technology as well as the subversion of truth in marketing. Now that wasn’t something I was expecting! From the trailer, Robocop seemed like another typical superhero movie where the good guy saves the day- which he did in the end, but I didn’t expect such effort to be put into developing these issues. In the end, it became a pretty thought provoking movie for me. Here’s why.

People all start with noble goals in research and ambitions to develop ideas and take advancements to the next level but at what point does it need to stop? What are the limits? It’s definitely not the sky.  In Robocop, we see how a doctor started out with research aimed at giving people better lives with prosthetic limbs. It was all great- a musician who lost his hands was able to play a guitar again. Murphy ( Robocop) could jump higher, run faster than he could ever have imagined when he was a normal, human police officer. However, here comes the part that gets uncomfortable- toying with emotions to make his reflexes on par with a pure robot with the effect that he doesn’t share the same affection he has for his family anymore. We see Murphy become a total pro at catching criminals but at the expense of his human nature.  In the movie, it is explained that our brain is what makes us who we are ( debatable). When someone loses the use of his body-You are still you because you have your own conscience and your own feelings that govern our reactions to the world around us. So what happens when someone tampers with that? Man, machine or hybrid? We are left with the conundrum expressed by the Doctor- He is a machine that thinks he is human in combat. It is arguable that Man over Machine still prevails because the statement is quantified and maybe these ‘ robocops’ really do decrease the crime rates everywhere. However, at what cost? We see that the cost is his humanity and the hurt it caused to his family.  This taking away of human nature can be justified on grounds that it is for greater good/ or the person gets a new lease on life. However, does the ‘ greater good’ give us the right to essentially ‘ kill off’ a person? It’s like pitting evil against evil and we choose the lesser of 2 evils. Who or what is to determine which is worse? Also this ‘ new lease on life’ isn’t really there if the person now doesn’t even have the mind to process it.

Another problem that surfaces is that the system is flawed. This is because behind every invention is a creator and the creator has ‘ full monopoly’ over the product. However, in this case the creator would be the inventor as well as those that fund the project. The problem with the creator is that he is not God. He is not perfect. Hence the phrase ‘playing God’. Firstly it’s really difficult to be God because it takes a lot of talent, money and time. Secondly, we aren’t God because man is corrupt by nature. We can’t trust ourselves. It’s great that the man is in control over his mechanical side but man also wants to control man because of the high risks they are playing with. A near ‘ super human’ can’t be allowed to wander around like any normal person because the heart of Man can’t be trusted. Yet, retention of control is in itself a dangerous thing. The invention was not allowed to touch his inventors – Robocop was programmed to shut down if he pointed a gun at the cooperation even though they were criminals.

How true is the Bible in Mark 7:20-21 which states that what defiles a man comes the heart. ‘For from within the heart of men, proceeds the evil thoughts, fornication, thefts, murders adulteries…’ This is the core problem with us- the reason why advancements are dangerous. How easy it is for people to let greed, pride and fear get in the way of what is right.

Even the very morally sound doctor when he realized he was going too far, was tempted to sweep things under the carpet with the prospect of being funded further. There is no perfect creator or perfect controller of our inventions and this can make technology a dangerous weapon – The argument is always ‘ what if it falls into the wrong hands’ and hence much precaution is taken but it’s just so easy for it to fall into the wrong hands….heck it already starts off in the wrong hands.

Second issue I’d like to trawl through  ( tired already…) would be the subversion of truth in marketing.  The script was definitely critiquing the methods of marketing that are used today. Half truths that cut out so much- sometimes even the most important bit. The scene where Robocop’s wife, Clara was told that her husband had lost his rationale to think because he had ‘ pointed a gun at a non-armed police officer’ was just extremely lawyerly. They left out the word ‘ corrupt’ and that omission just changed the entire truth from white to black without lying. At the same time, the art of persuasion is pretty impressive to see in action. The way the boss of Omnicorp convinced the doctor to continue working with him was so manipulative that it was actually scary. He knew exactly which buttons to press and exactly how to neutralise the negative impact of the situation.

Thankfully, at the end of the day, Robocop saves the day and the doctor keeps his moral conscience but the movie is pretty realistic in showing how easily persuaded humans can be to hide the truth, to sail to greater heights at all costs as long as it is beneficial to themselves. And the thing is, we can all relate because we’ve all experienced those same temptations before. Humans are truly selfish at the core and although good still prevailed- it really was by a hairline. To quote Star Wars ‘ There is still good in (us)’ but there is so much tendency to compromise when we face our own evil nature and as values and truth become more and more relative, it gets tougher to stay morally upright (I really submit that the trials can only be overcome with God and the Bible as our anchor), but then the light of those that do just shine brighter than ever as the times get darker.


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