Robocop (1987)

In the near future crime is reaching epidemic proportions and extreme measures must be taken. In Old Detroit a private corporation has taken over the police department. The corporation, Omni Consumer Products, has decided to turn to modern robotics for their solution. They are intent on eliminating the police in favor of crime suppression robots. Their first attempt fails badly but then they strike pay dirt in the form of a recently slain police officer who is transformed into a law enforcement cyborg.  This cop, Alex Murphy, was killed by a street gang in future Detroit.  Murphy's body is reconstructed within a steel shell and named RoboCop.  Unfortunately, there are many criminals on the street as well as in the corporation itself that will stop at nothing to destroy RoboCop.


1.  What is the role/function of the robot? Why was it created?

Robocop's chief duty is to put a stop to crime in Detroit and he is a part of Omni Corporation's attempt to create a robotic police force to supress crime.

2. How human is it? How human is it meant to be?

Robocop is made from a human combined with steel and electronics, making him a very human-like cyborg.  He has super-human strength and abilities but a limited memory. He is meant to be human enough to operate on his own while machine enough to make him subject to his mission and more difficult for criminals to escape from. "He is guided by an on-board, computer assisted memory that displays the three Prime Directives guiding his actions, while a fourth--which prevents him from arresting Omni Corporation senior officers and thus from interfering in its operations--keeps the source of his subjection effectively free from analysis." (Telotte, 155).

3.  How does it interact with society? How do humans react to it?

Robocop proves to be effective in fighting crime until his human identity begins to emerge. Criminals are terrified of him, and to this end he serves his purpose. But it is when he begins to faintly remember his past that he finds that he truly does not have a place in society. It struggles with its identity and tries to retrace its roots.

4. What are the consequences within the context of the world of the work?

The consequences of using a killed or disabled human and turning him into a fighting machine results in creating a confused being that is not sure of its identity or its purpose. Although he is supposedly under control by his on-board computer memory his human identity surfaces. "What short-circuits such fail-safe planning, though, and allows this very public body to foreground and subvert these restraints is the sudden resurgence of Murphy's human identity." (Telotte, 155). Once Robocop is told by his former partner that he is really Murphy, he decides to go after those reponsible for his murder.

5.  What is its influence on the notion of robots?

It is another robot along the lines of Terminator that is meant to kill and destroy without experiencing emotion.  It further enhances the idea of robots as killing machines. The film goes a step further than Terminator by combining an actual human with machine, an idea seen before, yet it takes into question issues of identity and control.