What Robocop Tells Us About the Neoliberal City, Then & Now:

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Robocop 1987 vs 2014

The recent release of Jose Padilha’s reboot of the RoboCop franchise offers ToM another opportunity to indulge in extreme historian geekiness. As an unabashed lover of the original 1987 RoboCop, I jumped at the opportunity to write a dual review of both films, reflecting on their contrasting messages and cultural commentaries.

Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 version was a masterpiece. No, seriously. Taking place in an unspecified, but not too distant future, the film is set in a dystopic, post-industrial Detroit. The film’s Motor City is riddled with crime and drugs, where police are killed with shocking regularity. The thinly veiled illusion to urban blight during the Reagan years is hard to miss.        RoboCop ’87 is a biting indictment of neoliberal urbanism. The central villain of the film is the Omni Consumer Products (OCP) corporation, whose maniacal plan is to bulldoze the slums (which seems to be most of the city)…

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