Tag Archives: Film

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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Modern Family: ‘Mr. Mom’ & Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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“My brain is like oatmeal,” jobless auto worker Jack Butler (Michael Keaton) tells his newly employed wife Caroline (Teri Garr) in 1983’s Mr. Mom.  “I yelled at Kenny today for coloring outside the lines!”  Having lost his management position at a local Detroit auto manufacturer, Butler found himself adrift, watching over his two boys and infant daughter Megan while Caroline climbed the advertising industry ladder rising to executive as sort of comedic proto-Don Draper.  With a faux Grizzly Adams look replete with faded flannel shirt, scruffy beard, and an expanding waistline, Butler admits that his time as a stay at home dad had not gone smoothly. “Megan and I are starting to watch the same TV shows, and I’m liking them! I’m losing it.”

While hardly Oscar material – Roger Ebert called the movie a “great idea” that didn’t follow through and other critics described it as “sitcom-like”– Mr…

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