I presume your school was like mine, in that most of the teachers had nicknames. Actually, the teachers’ nicknames in our school weren’t particularly cruel or inventive. I had maths teachers called Why So and Buddy, after something they probably said repeatedly in their early days that just stuck. Maybe we were all bored.
One of the teachers in our school was known as Bobo. Don’t ask me why. He had been teaching there for around 20 years by the time we arrived, so his origin story had been long forgotten. Like most of the teachers in our school, he seemed an easy-going man and happy in his job, and there were no serious trouble-makers among us.
One time Bobo was in a car accident and as a consequence he had to get a metal plate in his leg. When he returned to school, Bobo was now known as… BoboCop.
The concept — the meme, in the original meaning of the term — of ‘Robocop’ is now embedded in our culture and parlance. A quick look online turns up a recent news article about artificial intelligence in the police force which is almost inevitably headed ‘Robocop on the beat’. You will have seen and heard others.
Only lately I realised that, despite it being such a famous film, I had never seen RoboCop. (That capital C is how it’s written, pedants.) It never seems to be on TV. So, I got a cheap DVD of it and watched it last night.
Turns out RoboCop is only alright.
I was expecting it to be on a par with two other wise-ass action thrillers from the same era, Predator and Die Hard. However, it falls way short of the brilliant dialogue, characterisation and tension of those classics. In fact, it’s just a step up from the trashy Cannon flicks of the ’80s. Officer Murphy’s shooting, a pivotal scene, is especially cheap and contrived. As for its commentary on Reaganomic corporate greed, RoboCop’s parody commercials and boardroom confrontations are harmlessly ridiculous compared to Die Hard’s more realistic coke-snorting executive weasels.
The main flaw with RoboCop, though, is that having an indestructible hero takes away all sense of jeopardy. Bullets bounce off him, for God’s sake! The Terminator films got around this by making the indestructible one the bad guy — even when Arnie turns nice cyborg for Terminator 2, he’s put up against a cyborg who’s even indestructibler. (That’s an actual word.) And even though we know James Bond will probably survive ski-ing off a cliff, half the thrill is in finding out how he does so. Spoiler: thanks to his webbed hands and feet, James Bond can fly.
Perhaps all of RoboCop’s creative capital went on the title and the concept. In that case, it was money well spent. There’s at least one secondary school teacher who has a much cooler nickname because of it and can walk those unforgiving corridors a lot taller, albeit with a limp.
Here’s the trailer for the original RoboCop. Trivia: the music in the trailer is from fellow cyborg-flick The Terminator; both films were made by the same studio.
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