Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Problem with Private Practice

Private business is the future of a nation, correct? Not if those businesses begin to control other aspects of life. The film Robocop is a social commentary on the evils of privatization by large companies. Ideally, we could believe that CEO’s of conglomerates heading this privatization are pure and would keep the company on the straight and narrow, but as Robocop demonstrates, corruption at the top of the ladder is inevitable when profit is involved.

In our discussion last night, we discussed why Robocop’s quest to regain some humanity was important to the storyline. Most argued that it was pointless, but I have to say that I disagree. In a way, I think director Paul Verhoeven was trying to show that a completely loss of humanity could just as destructive. By regaining some sense of who he his, Robocop can be more than a set of predetermined actions. In the movie, another law enforcement robot is juxtaposed to Robocop, and it is large, terrifying, and has this deep, growling, malicious voice. Overall, it is an inhuman creation, and ultimately ends up shooting down an innocent corporation employee due to a “glitch” during a prototype presentation. Never in the movie does Robocop have such a glitch where he targets innocent people; because he chooses to find what remain of his family (even if all that remains is his last name), that search for himself keeps him from becoming a completely unfeeling metallic monster. Perhaps Verhoeven is warning society against a completely robotic future. There will always be a need for a sense of humanity.

Now, I step onto my soapbox. Robocop is divided by “news breaks,” which offer a satire in themselves. The news institution is made to be laughable, over the top, quite ridiculous actually. The discussion ended up being based around how even today the news is becoming more and more liberal, privatized, and how basically they are trying to tell the public what to think. Before I begin to rant, let me legitimize why I think the way I do. I am a Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations double major. I want to be a news anchor. I don’t like when people constantly say that the news is trying to sway what people believe.

Due to the journalism side of my degrees, I’m taught certain things. Aren’t we all? I can understand Robocop’s criticism of the “infotainment” that news has become, and I agree that news networks should focus on delivering unbiased news without weaving in stories about the latest celebrity breakup. But think of it this way. What is the public asking for in their news? The majority of people has a short attention span and get bored with straight news for an hour-long broadcast; they are asking for a mixture of hard and soft news. So don’t go blaming the news industry for giving you infotainment when in fact it is YOU, the public, demanding it.


  1. You make a really good point that we are the ones who choose to watch the infotainment, but do you think that people are totally aware that this is what they are demanding? Considering Robocop as satire do you think that the movie works to make us aware of this demand?

  2. I'm not sure that they realize that they are demanding infotainment. But I think it takes an ignorant person to blame the networks without first evaluating the public's desire for television broadcasting.

    I think Robocop COULD work to make us aware of our demand for infotainment. Conversely, it could also feed the growing resentment for television news, especially if the public doesn't realize that TV is simply meeting THEIR requests.