So I was tossing and turning over night, agonizing over a specific question: is pop culture dead?
Of course, “pop culture” can never really “die” so long as there’s entertainment, fashion, etc. But has it fundamentally shifted in a way that requires new methods of critique?
Guys like Theodore Adorno were critiquing “pop culture” way back in the 1940s, claiming things like movies, music, etc. were massed produced commodities and were therefore not genuine (or whatever). But maybe the pandemic and the prolific use of the internet has changed the game.
Obviously these things have changed the way we interact with pop culture, but the question I’m concerned with is: “has the pandemic, and specifically the internet, changed the very nature of pop culture itself.”
(This is all from my dementia-driven perspective, btw)
Anyways, what made me agonize over this question is that everything feels a little passé. When people talk about reading tweets, I’m thinking “you’re still using Twitter?”. Even at 106 years old, I feel like I’m more “in the know” than most 20 year olds. It’s not because I’m “cooler” than them, it’s because they don’t give a shit. So how can “pop culture” be pop culture if it’s not popular?
So I was at a writer’s workshop where some dude was trying to get under my skin. Then we became best friends. Tom Brady also showed up because he was trying to get his acting career started. Why he was at a writer’s workshop was never explained.
Then, like a ghost from the past, appeared an old friend. In real life I haven’t spoken to him in nearly 15 years. His brother was actually my best friend and our friendship ended in the worst possible way: in a courtroom (we both lost btw). It’s one of my biggest regrets, and in truth, I dream about him often.
But his brother shows up, and I confide in him that I think highly of his sibling and I miss them both. In fact, I tell him that I am at this workshop because I am writing a fictionalized version of our friendship.
The Brother tells me that I can’t do that. I ask why and he disappears into a bookstore. I go looking for him and I find him with three small children. I ask him again why I can’t write the book. He tells me that his brother’s dead and that one of these children is his son.
It was a poignant moment in the dream. It reminded me of the passage of time, how we were once small children, and how we are now creating the next generation. I tell the Son of my best friend that I too have a son, how fortunate he is to have his uncle, and that his father was a good man.
The Brother disappears once again, and I help the Child find his uncle. As I walk with the Child, he tells me to not have regrets, and that he hopes to meet my son. I tell him that “that’s a very nice thing to say,” and that I hope they meet someday too.
Finally, we find his uncle standing outside. He’s with two men in suits. I tell the Brother that per his wishes, I won’t write the book. One of the men in suits spoke up and said “that’s a wise decision.”
“Are you an attorney?” I ask.
“What if I changed all the names and events? Can you sue me then?” I said.
“Well clearly he (my best friend) is everything that he’s not,” the lawyer replied. Whatever that meant.
I look over to the Brother. “Did you invite these guys here?” I ask.
“Well fuck it,” I said. “I’m writing the book.”
I then pointed at the lawyer’s shirt like he had a stain. When he looked down, I lifted my finger up to his face.
First off, thank you to those who continually read this blog. I love all of you like a bastard child I never knew I had. But if we did have a child together, then I don’t know you and please don’t reach out to me.
Now on to the subject at hand:
The first RoboCop is one of my favorite movies. Paul Verhoeven really knows how to tell a story from the perspective of the film’s ideology while simultaneously letting you in on the joke.
It’s a tough act to follow, and most claim that RoboCop 2 failed to live up to its predecessor. But I disagree. The reviews on IMDB are all over the place. Many say that it’s not a great movie, but there’s no consensus on why it’s not a great movie.
Yes, certain plot details go nowhere. This is probably the result of studio interference, which is typical for highly anticipated sequels. But my question is: who gives a shit? RoboCop 2 was made in the same vein as another infamous sequel released a week earlier: Gremlins 2: The New Batch and it should be viewed in that light.
Is it a GREAT film? Lol, no. It’s not supposed to be. When you make a sequel, you have two options: do something entirely different or double up on the same shit that was done before. The filmmakers chose the latter (which was the right choice).
Now Verhoeven definitely handled the gratuitous violence much more effectively in the first film, but that’s his specialty. At its heart, RoboCop is a satire on consumerism and corporate culture. The horrific violence and sci-fi aspects, which most people remember it for, was just the vessel to tell the story. RoboCop 2 threw up its arms and said “fuck it, we’re just gonna be satire”.
The villains are much more over-the-top, the commercials are much less subtle, and even RoboCop himself is more exaggerated. Many praised RoboCop for its self-awareness, well the same is true for RoboCop 2. In fact, it’s straight up mocking itself.
I’d say that RoboCop 2, along with Gremlins 2, might be the two most self-aware films ever made.
Does it deserve the 5.8 rating it currently has on IMDB? No.