Not everyone wants RoboCop in Detroit

I haven’t mentioned it here, but I have friends in Detroit who don’t want the RoboCop statue. Most notable among these folks is my friend Joe, who blogs under the name Super Gay Detroit. He thinks the whole thing is kind of stupid. Here are a few of his points. If you’d like to read more, click here.

…The things that rankle me the most are the permanence and the placement. A cast metal statue isn’t easily removed when people get tired of the joke (unless it it scrapped, of course). And there is something about taking a joke to a $50,000 extreme that really speaks to the question of priorities. I am aware that the Imagination Station folks are open to placing the statue someplace else but as of this moment, the proposed location is still on the edge of Roosevelt Park. I have a very hard time with the idea that any neighborhood in Detroit should have to be home to a RoboCop statue. I guess that’s what you get when you let in hipsters. Cue gentrification arguments in three… two… one…

…There is no way for me to precisely track where the money is coming from, but I took a look at the list of backers this morning to do a little math. Some people have their location listed with their names, and I do know a reasonable number of people here in Detroit. What I discovered was that out of 1500 backers, there were 10 whose location was listed as Detroit, MI. Additionally there were 10 were people whose names I recognized, including folks affiliated with Imagination Station. And while I didn’t count specifically, there were maybe 10 others from the metro Detroit area. So that’s 2%. Even if you take into account that many people have no location listed, what could we possibly be talking about, 10% of the backers were from the Detroit area? I think that says a lot, and not just that we are poor…

And, here, for what it’s worth, is the opposing view from my sarcastic friend Leighton.

This is terrible. Giving private funds to frivolous art projects, employing local artists who also rehab abandoned homes and neighborhoods. And to think, the money raised over the goal is going to “branch this project and fundraising into bigger and bigger things with a better and better impact on Detroit.” JUST TERRIBLE!

This is much worse than spending tax subsidies on socially conscious things, like movie production.

I guess I’m somewhere in between the two. I acknowledge that it’s kind of silly and self-indulgent in-joke, and that the funding in large part is coming from outside the city, but, at the same time, I don’t think, in the whole scheme of things, that it’s that big of a deal. Even if it just puts a few people to work for a few days, and draws one tourist to the city a month, I think it might be a good thing. But, from here on out, I’ve decided to stay out of it and let the good men and women of Detroit fight it out amongst themselves.

Closer to home, my friend Jeff is wondering what the Ann Arbor equivalent of the RoboCop statue would be. I suggested a life-sized statue of Ann Coulter, erected right outside the U-M Law School, where she was educated. If you have a better idea, though, leave a comment. (If I’m not mistaken, there was talk around the time that Ron Asheton died about erecting a statue to him in Ann Arbor. The conversation, however, as I recall, got detoured when people started debating whether or not he’d be wearing his beloved Nazi uniform.)

Oh, before we move on from the RoboCop debate, I had one more thought to share. On this day in 1935, a great Detroiter was born. His name – Sonny Bono. And, to my knowledge, he’s not celebrated anywhere in the city. What if, instead of using Peter Weller’s face beneath the RoboCop helmet, we substituted Sonny Bono’s distinctive jawline and mustache? What if we created a BonoCop for downtown Detroit? Could the city perhaps rally around that?

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  1. Monster Lover
    Posted February 16, 2011 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone inspired to join me and start raising funds for a statue of Aileen Wuornos/Charlize Theron to be placed outside of Troy High School?

    Maybe some people from Troy can then raise money to put a statue of Tom Monaghan in Riverside Park?

    And, speaking of Hitler, how about a nice statue of him in Tel Aviv? (Awesome!)

    Maybe we can raise enough money to put Ronald McDonald in front of Big Boys and Big Boy in front of Ronald McDonald. That would be AWESOME!

    The best way to spend money on any public project is to give a big fuck you to the people who live there! Bing, you been PUNKED! Ashton Kutcher rocks!!!

  2. Karlos
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    I chipped in a buck to the Kickstarter campaign. As I have said on Facebook (as perhaps Mark has noted) if it actually gets built I will come to Detroit to see it, and I’ll spend some tourist dollars while I’m there.

  3. Ale Roka
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    You know that little triangle traffic island at Huron and Cross? I’ve long thought it was screaming for a noble statue of this great local son.

    I’m sure we could raise the money pretty quickly if we got the word out to constituents in Florida. (You think I’m kidding?)

    And, hey, as long as it brought in a few bucks from the occasional pilgrim visiting the sacred statue, what harm could it possibly do? Really, who among us in Ypsi wouldn’t just be happy to see Monaghan smiling at us every single day if we knew that one or two people a year might stop off the exit to see the statue and maybe even buy some gas on their way back to the freeway?

  4. Ale Roka
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:22 am | Permalink


    That’s great news! Just for a little perspective, how many times will you visit and roughly how many tourist dollars do you anticipate spending (in the city limits), just so we know how excited to get.

    As an aside, where do you live? I just ask because I’m sure we could recommend some great statues for your neighborhood that would bring our tourist dollars right back (don’t want to be selfish hosts, happy to return the favor)!

  5. Leon Spinks
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    No Dan O’Herlihy statue, Mark?

  6. Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    It’s a massively stupid and self-gratifying idea being fueled by white, college educated idiots who have never been and never will go to Detroit. $50,000 would go a long way for a lot of things in Detroit.

  7. Knox
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The difference is, that plot of land on Cross that you reference is publicly owned. The site of the RoboCop statue is private.

  8. Posted February 17, 2011 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    Seriously — if you want to raise $50,000 for something else in Detroit, start a facebook page and a KickStarter campaign and do it. If the idiotic Robocop thing can get done, then what the hell is stopping you? The I-like-to-tell-everyone-else-what-to-do-with-their-shit crowd is always quick to peck, but slow to lay eggs.

  9. Edward
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “My memories of the University of Michigan are NOT pleasant,” wrote Ted Kaczynski.

    I say Ann Arbor should have a statue of Ann Coulter riding on the shoulders of the Unabomber. We should put it outside a Starbucks.

  10. Edward
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Oh, here’s a reference for that Unabomber quote:

  11. Kassandra
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I’m in agreement with Black Jake. Poor prioritization is not unique to this argument.

    Statue or no, there is still brilliant ingenuity going on in the D and still opportunity for others to take advantage of it.

  12. Eel
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    I support your BonoCop compromise, if only because it would be considerably smaller.

  13. Aaron B.
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    God forbid anyone try and do something fun and playful these days….. people get less frazzled over murder rates and drop out rates in Detroit but god forbid someone wants to make a goofy sci-fi statue. Though I no longer live in Detroit, I was born there, and lived there before moving to the Ann Arbor area… I am not offended.

    Wait, better yet, maybe they should raze money to build a statue of Kwame?

  14. Andrew Jason Clock
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Hey, these folks are well within their rights to build a statue. Just like I’m well within my rights to call them stupid hipster assholes or to be frustrated that they have put the time and effort into such a colossal waste of time and money. From now on, I’ll refer to this project as the Hipster Circle Jerk.

    I wonder if they are all too busy laughing at their brilliant inside joke to realize that Robocop is the original Detroit Ruin Porno. Except its worse than what we get now, because it wasn’t even made in Detroit. Nope, in stead of exploiting actual urban decay, they went to Texas, dirtied it up, and played off the IDEA the Detroit is a hopeless hell hole and would only get worse. (don’t forget, the movie came out in the 80’s and was set in the future)

    Also, if you insist on building a statue of Peter Weller, lets go for Buckaroo Banzai. At least a comic-book-hero/rock star/samurai/brain surgeon/rocket scientist/super hero would be an inspiration to continue your education.

  15. Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Knock yourselves out:

    Raise money for something that would meet your moral approval. I dare you.

  16. karen
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    I would commit one thousand dollars towards a statue of people bitching about people who are trying to build a different statue.

    They could call it “Blogging”.

  17. Posted February 17, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    You mean Sonny Bono of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act? Eff that.

    But god forbid someone try doing something fun in Detroit.

    Yeah, it’s “fueled by white, college educated idiots”—me included—but some of us actually have been and will continue to go to Detroit as long as there’s something interesting or amusing to find there. How do you think cities are built and rebuilt, anyway?

    You want Sarah McLachlan to come by and film rundown buildings to sad music to guilt money out of people?

    If you have a better idea of where $50,000 could go in Detroit, start fundraising. Someone can probably hook you up with a Kickstarter account. See if you can motivate people any better by calling them hipsters and idiots.

  18. Robert
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Why not pool everyone’s resources and build one giant monument to stupidity in general.

  19. Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Even if it just puts a few people to work for a few days, and draws one tourist to the city a month, I think it might be a good thing.

    You know what’s an even better tourist draw than fictional crime? True crime. If Detroit doesn’t want a RoboCop statue, we should offer to use the money to erect a statue of John Norman Collins on Emmet Street. Just think of all the tourist dollars it would bring to Ypsi!

  20. Posted February 17, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Black Jake, since when does not liking someone’s idea amount to forbidding it? I don’t think I have that kind of power.

    I just think it’s a stupid idea. That’s just an opinion. It’s more to do with the way that Detroit is portrayed in the movie than anything else. Sure, it may be fun and give some people some gratification and even a job, but to me, it’s a spit in the face to Detroit by people who likely aren’t even from Michigan. Essentially it is a sign that says “This place is a hellhole and always will be. Give up on this shithole.”

    A statue of Mark Maynard in Ypsi would be something I would pay for, though.

  21. karen
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    Officer Alex J. Murphy was a HERO. John Norman Collins was a murderer.

    Detroit needs heroes. Robocop is that hero.

  22. TeacherPatti
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    I would pay for a statue of Mark looking adoringly at his puppet. I don’t mean his junk; I mean the actual puppet. I think that picture appeared in that Concentrate article. Anyway, it was one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen.

  23. Posted February 17, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Who said you were trying to forbid it, Peter? All’s I’m saying is it’s more constructive to do what they did (but for a cause you approve of — like helping blind kids) than it is to self-righteously finger-wag people for not spending their money the way you think they should.

  24. Stephen
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

    Ayn Rand was infatuated with a killer named William Edward Hickman. She thought that he was the perfect man, as he was so powerful and did what he wanted without concern for society and its conventions. He hacked up a 12 year old girl, and Rand referred to him in her diary as the “ideal man.” Anyway, as she seems quite popular these days, I don’t see why a statue of John Norman Collins wouldn’t be looked on favorably by a large number of people. I think a lot of people, like BA and EOS, would actually dig it.

  25. Karlos
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    “Just for a little perspective, how many times will you visit and roughly how many tourist dollars do you anticipate spending (in the city limits), just so we know how excited to get.”

    Ale Roka —
    I will visit once, and only once, and I will place a single $2 bill in your own personal waistband. So you should probably get pretty excited, I’d think.

  26. Posted February 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    Will someone with some Photoshop skills please make me a BonoCop?

  27. Christine M
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s a massively stupid and self-gratifying idea being fueled by white, college educated idiots who have never been and never will go to Detroit. $50,000 would go a long way for a lot of things in Detroit. – posted by Peter Larson above.

    Very well said!

  28. Ale Roka
    Posted February 17, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Black Jake,

    I don’t need to start a kickstarter campaign. The ones I’d start have long been started. There are dozens of organizations in Detroit doing work I support. I’ve donated thousands to them over the years (just as a couple thousand folks who didn’t start their own thing donated to RoboCop). Westboro Baptist Church has the right to show up at service members funerals to represent Jesus. I have the right to disagree. I suggest I don’t have to start my own Eastboro Church to somehow “earn” the right to disagree. I don’t have to shut my mouth unless I start something with my name on it. Like the people paying for this proposed statue, I have the right to fund what I believe in. I also have the right to criticize what I don’t. Just pleeeease stop telling me I don’t have the right to voice my opinion if I chose to give to Detroit Rescue Mission rather than starting some Ale Roka poptart campaign.


    You said you will continue to go to Detroit as long as there’s something interesting or amusing to find there.

    Therein lies the problem. Detroit doesn’t really exist for your amusement. It’s not a place for you and Karlos to stuff your dollar bills and leave with wet panties and a contented smirk. I do thank you both for being so candid about what you really value in Detroit.

  29. Edward
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    What about a statue of RoboCop cooking a raccoon over a trash barrel fire?

  30. Posted February 18, 2011 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Ale, of course you have the freedom to criticize, moralize, and finger wag all you want, even if it’s something that’s none of your business (private funds paying for a statue on private property). I, in turn, have the freedom to criticize, moralize, and finger wag you for doing so, which I am doing. Your problem is not that someone’s trying to squelch your freedom of speech (which I couldn’t do if I tried, anymore than your criticism is an attempt to squelch the freedom of these Robocop people); your problem is that you can’t take your own medicine when faced with an object lesson that’s actually analogous for a change.

    But I was talking to Peter anyway.

  31. Posted February 18, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    There was once a finger-wagging moralizer friend of Jesus that got all in a huff about a woman anointing Jesus with expensive perfume. His gripe was that it should have gone to pay for the poor. But the truth was, he was not so much concerned with the poor as he was with controlling other people’s property for his own personal gain. They call those people thieves, and that man’s name was Judas.

    So remember, the poor you will have with you always, but you will not always have Robocop.

  32. Ale Roka
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    It’s private money on private land, but it’s not like some guy quietly putting up a statue in his front yard. It’s being done by a nonprofit organization, as an art installation, which they are widely promoting and intend for very public display and benefit. It’s art. Art has its critics.

    I think it’s a dumb idea.

    I don’t see how saying so is any different than seeing a movie, play, exhibit, etc. and saying it sucks. If I think a movie sucks, and I tell people not to see said privately funded movie in a private theater, am I a thieving Judas? Are we to hold our tongues but not our applause?

    Or course, the real question that’s being overlooked in all this is WWRcD?

  33. John Galt
    Posted February 18, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Fuck RoboCop and his humanity. I want us to raise money and have a few of these built and set loose in Detroit.

  34. Posted February 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Again, Ale, you can criticize what you want, and so can I. You put your criticisms in a public forum for all to see, and I think they are dumb. Am I to hold my tongue? Do you think you can dish it out freely, but are immune from criticism in return?

    Also again, I was addressing Peter about finger-wagging them for not spending the money on something he would rather they’d spent the money on, not about whether he thought it was artistically dumb or not.

    The issue was clearly framed as one of morality — of telling other people what they should do with their own property (money/time/etc.) — rather than on artistic criticism. To try to reframe it in hindsight as an issue of your freedom to offer artistic criticism is a disingenuous smoke screen. I called you (actually Peter) on some bullshittery, and you couldn’t take it, so you’re trying to pretend I’m attempting to restrict YOUR freedoms.

    This is a failed attempt to shift the debate from whether or not you can morally tell other people what to do with their own stuff (even though they’re not actually violating anybody else’s rights with it), to one of my being inconsistent with my own philosophy. The idea being that if I am a hypocrite, than my philosophy isn’t true. (Of course that in and of itself is a logical fallacy. If I preach against murder, but then I murder someone, the inconsistency between my words and my actions doesn’t discredit my thesis: that murder is wrong. It just makes my actions wrong. But that is an aside, since I am not being inconsistent with my philosophy.)

  35. karen
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    I for one think it’s immoral to build a statue to honor Robocop considering no one has built a statue honoring “Evil Dead” and Ash Williams.

    Bruce Campbell would kick Paul Weller’s ass all over town be it Detroit or Dallas.

  36. Ms. Pacman's Lover
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    I think they should put up a “Clarence Boddicker” billboard up at the Detroit city limit, with a p.a. system that says “Bitches…leave!” when you drive by.

  37. Ale Roka
    Posted February 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    Yes. I think we were talking to other people (me Mark, you Peter, sadly, no one St. Paul). But, I’m happy to take up discussions of art, morality and free speech in the future.

  38. Ted
    Posted February 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    I vote for a Roomba big enough to suck up entire buildings. We can just let it go on Detroit and see what happens over a week or two.

  39. Beetle
    Posted June 6, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Only THE CRIMINALS are against this!

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  1. By Made in Detroit… the armored riot coat on November 15, 2011 at 9:37 am

    […] to mind, but the first thing I thought when I saw it was that it would have been cool if the movie RoboCop had been made in the 50′s, starring an actor like Richard Carlson in this “riot […]

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