Detroit’s RoboCop love won’t die

Posted by David Gomez

There are some causes that people believe in so much that they’ll organize their efforts to achieve a common goal. For citizens in the city of Detroit that goal is a statue of their cyborg hero, RoboCop.

According to the Detroit Free Press a group of sci-fi fans, artists and business leaders have pledged to raise up to $80,000 for a statue of the main character from the 1987 sci-fi classic. If everything goes as planned, supporters will erect a statue, created by a Detroit artist, at Imagination Station, an outdoor art project near the abandoned Michigan Central Train Station in downtown Detroit.
    
Support for the idea came from all over the country through social media networks after Mayor Dave Bing rejected a suggestion on his Twitter account Monday to use city funds to build a statue of RoboCop. The character, played by Peter Weller, is a dead police officer who is reanimated, upgraded and repurposed as a crime fighting machine by an immoral corporation in a dystopian, crime-filled Detroit.
    
"That's the magic of the social network," said Jerry Paffendorf, a cofounder of Imagination Station who plans to raise donations on the site www.detroitneedsrobocop.com. "With the amount of energy coming from the Internet, I don't think we'll have problems raising money."
    
After Bing said no to the statue, over 3,000 people joined a Facebook page, "Build a Statue of Robocop in Detroit," to make their dream a reality. They think a statue would increase tourism and help clean up Detroit's negative image; much like the hero does in the movie, except he uses graphic violence to get the job done.

Surprisingly, the Twitter user who suggested that Bing commission a statue did so jokingly and now regrets writing it.

"I honestly never wanted to waste the mayor's time," he tweeted. "It was a joke."

Even though Bing said no to a tax-payer financed landmark, he said he would consider using public land for a statue that was donated.

"We recognize and respect public art, and are receptive to the varying tastes and preferences for such," mayoral spokeswoman Karen Dumas said. "Should the opportunity present itself to receive a donation of this, or any other works of public art, we will consider acceptance and appropriate placement. Until then, we continue working to make the tougher but necessary decisions that will positively impact financial stability, public safety and overall quality of life."

Putting up a statue to generate tourism has been done in other places.

Sylvester Stallone ordered a bronze statue of his character from the movie "Rocky," to be placed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1980, where the boxer famously sprinted up the steps to the song "Gonna Fly Now."
    
It's one of the more popular attractions in Philadelphia, said Eric Cortes, a tourism expert at visitphilly.com.
    
"We created an entire itinerary for people visiting the statue," Cortes said. "People still run the steps. When people think of Philadelphia, they think of history, the Liberty Bell, and they think about the Rocky statue."
    
Artist John Leonard, 29, who is helping to raise money for the RoboCop statue and started the Facebook page, said he's excited to get to work on immortalizing the fictional Detroit icon.
    
"RoboCop is something that people have a really strong emotional connection to," the Detroiter said. "This really is going to happen."
    
I cannot speak for the rest of my colleagues here at TG Daily, but I will go on record and say that as a lifelong metro Detroiter I love this idea. Sure, in the grand scheme of things a RoboCop statue is small potatoes. But if the insanity of so many people voicing their preference for such a landmark makes Detroiters feel pride for their struggling city then I’m all for it.