Culture Shocking Blocking


Image for Robocop

In an effort to explicate Jacques Lacan’s distinction between an all-too-human demand (in the act of making which you might gain insight into what you truly desire) and a monstrous, mechanical drive, Slavoj Žižek once pointed to the titular protagonist of RoboCop.

Lacan’s own examples of fictional ex-humans embodying relentless drives — e.g., Antigone, who “died” when her brothers killed one another; or the ghost of Hamlet’s father — are highbrow ones. But Žižek, a good postmodernist, prefers lowbrow fare like Paul Verhoeven’s dystopian shoot-’em-up flick, in which, unlike most other unstoppable inhuman horror and sci-fi movie characters, the cyborg Murphy/Robocop (Peter Weller) undergoes “resubjectivation,” becoming gradually less monstrous.

How best to convey the pathos and tragedy of what we might call the Ex-Ex-Human Condition? The violence-charged blocking in this cyborg vs. video-salesbot scene, set in a bedroom haunted not only by a vanished wife so truly desired that we can count the hairs on her all-too-human upper lip but by a relentlessly driven talking head, suggests that no matter how alluring it will surely become (and this was a quarter-century ago!), we must resist our own cyborg-ization.

Tags: Movies, Robocop, Science Fiction