Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses, and RoboCop

In a city, plagued with poverty, crime, and blight, a corporate entity looks to cut away the cancerous tissue and rebuild a newer, more modern city on top of it. The old city is viewed as broken. The new sleek and sculptural city will provide public housing for those displaced while also building towering skyscrapers that will print money for the top 1%. One hero will emerge to fight for the people, to stand up against the corporate greed, and rally the people to stand up for the city that they live in...


It's funny, it occurred to me in the shower this morning that a project that I'm working on about the legendary New York City Power Broker Robert Moses and his grassroots activist rival Jane Jacobs, is the exact same plot to the 1987 sci-fi Paul Verhoeven classic RoboCop.

In Post-World War II New York City, the wealthy looked to destroy the slums of New York City, its inhabitants be damned, and replace it with new top-down planned infrastructure with super-highways running throughout. Everyone is in their pocket down to the cement mixers that are pouring the foundations.

In RoboCop, evil corporation OCP looks to replace the entire city of Detroit with its vision of a streamlined and clean future that they call Delta City. They put everyone in their pockets, right down to the police force that's charged with keeping the city safe and crime free.

Jane Jacobs looked around her and saw what was happening. She rallied the people to save public spaces like Washington Square Park and stop the building of a Lower Manhattan Expressway from completely eviscerating part of Manhattan. One woman, who was dismissed as a mere "housewife" went toe-to-toe with the powerful figure head and won.

RoboCop, though he was part man and part machine and under the operating protocols of OCP, saw what was happening, fought his programming, and stopped the construction of Delta City. One officer, dismissed as a mere beat cop inside a heavily armored suit, went toe-to-toe with his own creators. He fought the stop-motion ED-209 to battle his way to the top of OCP headquarters and stopped the head of the corporation.

Take a look at OCP's vision for Detroit, MI replacement Delta City...

And look at these real life people at the 1939 World's Fair looking down on Corbusier and Robert Moses' vision of the future city.

Oh my god, now that I'm thinking about it... Robert Moses actually even kind of LOOKS like OCP Chief Operating Officer, Dick Jones! Dude, now I would totally pay to see a strange alternate reality sci-fi version of New York City's history where this all went down.

What's the point of this? Well, point of fact it's mainly to make two people laugh. Yes, this article was written for an extremely targeted audience. But I guess you could say it's also a strange correlation of art imitating life. Topics that were relevant in terms of city planning and the people who inhabit the dense city were at the forefront in the 1930s, they were in our minds in the late-1980s, and it's still relevant today.

That actually sounded intellectual, boy I really pulled that off. Especially considering that most of this was just an excuse to Photoshop this image.

Posted on April 15, 2016 and filed under Movies.