I’ve been cautiously optimistic about the Robocop remake ever since they hired Brazilian badass Jose Padilha to direct, but today brings us an excellent example of why people have such a knee-jerk hatred of remakes before they even know the details. Speaking at Comic-Con over the weekend, Padilha confirmed that the Sony/MGM remake, unlike the hyperviolent Paul Verhoeven-directed original, will be rated PG-13. I, for one, would NOT buy that for a dollar.
Padilha: “We were shooting the movie to be seen by the broadest possible audience, which means PG-13. This whole idea about ‘RoboCop’ has to be “R” because the first one was amazingly violent… I never really bought into that. You know, ‘The Dark Knight’ was PG-13, so you can get away with a lot.”
Sam Jackson added, “It would be “R” for its time, not “R” now.”Padilla agreed, “Yeah, maybe now it isn’t.” [DreadCentral]
“The original Robocop tonally was very ironic and very violent, and also a critique of fascism,” said Padilha. “It dealt with concepts that maybe not everyone caught on to. The relationship between fascism and robotics is very close. Like, the war in Vietnam ended because soldiers were dying; if you picture that war with robots then there wouldn’t be the same pressure at home. The issue is now posed by drones. Our movie is about that, that’s one part of it.
“Once you replace man with autonomous robots, accountability goes out the window. Say you have a robot hunting drug dealers and it shoots and kills a kid – whose responsibilty is that? That’s going to be more and more the issue as robotics evolve.” [YahooUK]
First of all, no one who has actually seen Robocop recently could ever think it wouldn’t still be rated R today. It’s not even close to PG-13, watch the clip I put after the jump if you don’t believe me. I get it, Padilha and Jackson aren’t in a great situation, and they’re trying to put a happy face on a bullsh*t studio decision, based on the idea that making a film PG-13 means it’s automatically going to appeal to a larger audience. Which is true in theory, but it also alienates a big chunk of the people who are fans of the original for whom PG-13 is blasphemous. If you ask studio people why they remake these movies, they’ll say it’s because the films already have a built-in brand and fanbase, but then they turn around and start changing the brand, which seems self-defeating. Sony already tried the PG-13 thing with Total Recall and it didn’t work out that well.
It’s not that we need to see Robocop drop N-bombs or disembowel people, but like Padilha says, the original was a sly critique of fascism. And the thing about fascism is that it’s a system that’s all clean and orderly and sanitized on the surface, but the nice, orderly facade is all built on a foundation of brutality and repression. How do you make a critique of fascism without the brutality? The weird gleeful brutality and casual violence of it is the whole damn point, without it you just have a fun society. You know who wants you to think fascism isn’t brutal? Fascists, that’s who. A PG-13 Robocop? No thanks, Hitler. (*puts on pants, starts filling up Molotov cocktails*)