If you took a sentient bag of mescaline to Cirque Du Soleil, its Yelp review would be the Robocop screenplay. A film willed into existence by Paul Verhoeven, a gasoline-blooded sex wizard masquerading as a movie director, Robocop grabbed Reagan-era policies by the throat and chokeslammed it into nitrous dust. It then spat that dust into our eyes like Rick Flair with a handful of cheat powder, and the result blinded us with such radical bodacity that 30 years later an alarming number of people still take the movie at face value.
Don’t get me wrong – Robocop is objectively awesome. I endorse all movies that combine disparate nouns with the word “cop,” be it your Kindergarten Cops or your Wolfcops or your Beverly Hills Cops, or even your One Good Cops. And of all those films, Robocop is the Robocop-est. But Robocop is, very pointedly, a dystopian nightmare satirizing the privatization of social services, taking the recklessly excessive policies of Reagan’s 80s to their most extreme conclusions. Remember when they remade Robocop in the early 2010s as a glossily chaste action figure commercial with some light commentary about the pitfalls of drone warfare? If they’d just waited a few more years until 2021, when America has reached the point where the media is unironically suggesting that Amazon and Facebook should be allowed to join the United Nations, a reboot would’ve practically written itself. That sentence I just typed is indistinguishable from any of Robocop’s goofily dystopic in-universe commercials trying to sell us performance health care on a pre-approved line of credit. The fact that it was dressed up as a story about a metal man dispensing “justice” the only way he knows how – with psychotic violence – was the spoonful of sugar to help us choke that medicine down.
Anyway, I bring all of that up because today I want to talk about Robocop. I always want to talk about Robocop. I cry out his name in my sleep, so insatiable is my need to keep his mechanical spirit alive in the hearts and minds of all Robogod’s children. But today, on this blessed Punching Day, I specifically want to talk about Dick Jones, the testicle-crushing president of Omni Consumer Products.
That’s not even a completely accurate description of Dick Jones. Dick Jones doesn’t crush his rivals’ testicles so much as flatten their testicles like a prom corsage in a textbook about the advantages of beating children that he stole from a prison library and display the book in a glass casket as a warning to future disrespectful scrotums.
Dick Jones is the villain of Robocop, a perfect distillation of 1980s corporate culture right down to his smart wingtips. He’s Marvel Comics’ the Kingpin on a juice diet. He’s the last boss of Final Fight sprung to glorious life. Dick Jones would drown Gordon Gekko in a bathtub. He would feed Patrick Bateman’s thumbs to an ATM machine. Dick Jones would show up three hours late to a dinner with Tony Montana and then order off-menu for the whole table, and Tony wouldn’t say shit.
Perpetually sporting tailored suits and a veneered sneer, Dick Jones doesn’t give one piston-legged fuck about anything but collecting all of the money in the universe. He spearheaded OCP’s acquisition of Detroit’s police force, primarily to use as a staging ground for his Tyrannosaurus mandroid ED-209. ED-209 is a tank with feet, the kind of thing a kid doodles in the back of a police car. It’s an avatar of violent whimsy. It has the vibes of a murderer working on his standup routine. It’s like a Teddy Ruxpin with bloodshot eyes. If Hasbro built a razor-beaked Furby that only spoke German, Dick Jones would’ve deputized it as a school resource officer, and it would be ED-209’s partner. What I’m getting at is that ED-209 is the absolute last thing you’d ever want to put into contact with the general public, and Dick Jones wants it to be a policeman. It’s the public safety equivalent of giving every elementary school student a flesh-bound book and a ceremonial dagger. The population of the city is about to be dramatically reduced, and in an historic fashion.
We’re introduced to Dick Jones when he brings ED-209 to work like a therapy dog and it kills someone in front of his boss. Just absolutely obliterates a junior executive in the middle of a quarterly strategy meeting. Slams that fucker into meat confetti with bullets the size of Pringles cans. And this is the robot Dick Jones built to ticket unruly motorists and guide children through crosswalks. Everyone in the meeting reacts as if the robot malfunctioned, but if you ask me, nothing could be further from the truth. Based on everything we come to learn about Dick Jones, that robot was functioning as designed. Dick Jones didn’t accidentally build ED-209 to massacre people for littering or breaking curfew; he built that shit on purpose because that’s what he thinks about everyone who isn’t Dick Jones. He’s every auto executive who griped about having to do a product recall simply because a few lousy jagoffs got decapitated by the automatic seatbelts.
Dick Jones is such a nail-shitting bastard that balding reptilian crime boss Clarence Boddicker screams his name into Robocop’s face to avoid getting policed to death. Clarence Boddicker, a man who graphically executes his fellow human beings like a Ghostbuster but for people, invokes the name of Dick Jones in his moment of greatest terror. That’s the kind of letter of recommendation I wish my guidance counselor had written for me.
But what really seals the deal for me is the scene in which Dick Jones plans a man’s murder while finishing a shit. Just muscling out the tail of a monster dooker while paging Clarence Boddicker a coworker’s home address.
You see, after ED-209 turned an employee into bone paste during a budget meeting, OCP defunded Dick Jones’ murder bot project and turned to Bob Morton, an up-and-coming executive with a dream of fusing mangled dead flesh with remorseless metal and circuitry to create The Future of Law Enforcement™. Morton swoops in to pitch his Robocop program and becomes the new star of OCP, stealing Dick Jones’ thunder. If anything I’ve written up to this point has been coherent, I apologize, but what should’ve been clear is the fact that stealing Dick Jones’ thunder is the last thing you should ever do. That’s like calling an Uber Pool to take you to Hell. Both the journey and the destination are an eternity of suffering.
The Robocop program is a big success, and Bob Morton becomes the talk of the town. OCP promotes him to executive vice president, which puts him in prime position to come gunning for Dick Jones’ job, and if you aren’t screaming “Bob Morton, no!” at your screen by this point then I have failed at my duty of spreading the gospel of Dick Jones.
Like Icarus before him, Bob Morton flies too close to the sun, and the sun in this case is the OCP executive lounge. Dick Jones is busily baking a considerable tube loaf loaded with the bones of previous Bob Mortons when Bob Morton comes whirling through the door in a cloud of hubris.
Chatting with a fellow executive, tragically unaware of the extremely occupied stall behind them, Bob Morton brushes off his friend’s advice to watch his ass for Dick Jones and breezily calls Dick Jones a pussy. I’ve sat through approximately 127 viewings of Robocop, and I gasp every single time.
Does Dick Jones come harrumphing out of the bathroom stall, crabbily tugging up his trousers with a face full of bluster to confront Bob Morton? Absolutely not. Come on. This is Dick Jones we’re talking about. Dick Jones patiently lets Bob Morton continue to hang himself while quietly finishing his shit.
The rest of the executives in the lounge correctly panic and flee as soon as the disparaging wind of Bob Morton’s words pass through his lips, so extreme is their fear. It’s unclear whether they saw Dick Jones enter the stall or if they simply recognized the scent of his turds, which we can only assume must be rhinocerotic in both size and odor. He’s painted the room with the scent of his butt-shouts, is what I’m getting at, so Bob Morton is making his casual declaration of war against Dick Jones while breathing the warm air from Dick Jones’ asshole. He’s unwittingly signing his own warrant while smelling the farts of his destructor.
When Dick Jones finally emerges from the stall, revealing himself to Bob Morton and his friend, the friend pisses all over the front of his pants and rushes out of the executive lounge. This is both a result of his frantic hurry to escape, and a cunning display of fealty. Indeed, had Bob Morton also peed on himself, he might have avoided Dick Jones’ wrath. With the patience of geologic time, Dick Jones corners Bob Morton in his executive fart chamber and informs him that he has just fucked up big time. I don’t want to belabor the robopoint, but it truly cannot be overstated that Dick Jones delivers the prophecy of Bob Morton’s doom five feet away from a magnificent pile of his own shit. That’s like serving your partner divorce papers at Disney World. It’s a flex of pure cruelty, like the Ultimate Warrior in inquisitor’s robes.
Bob Morton struggles to recover and stand his ground, but it’s far too late. Dick Jones holds grudges like a mummy curse. In a final display of ultimate power, Dick Jones grabs Bob Morton by the skull and yanks his head back, to maximize his intake of the shitty breeze wafting through the executive lounge. “Suck my farts,” Dick Jones all but hisses. “Breathe in the rich scent of stained oak and dead horses that is your demise. My ass belches beckon you to the abyss.”
The very next day, Bob Morton is trying to forget the terror of that assy encounter by throwing himself a cocaine party with some attractive young models in his den, which has five (5) TVs. But Dick Jones is not a man who rests on his laurels. He sends Clarence Boddicker to murder Bob Morton with a lethal combination of gunfire, hand grenades, and a sassy DVD message. Clarence Boddicker chases the models out by uttering, “Bitches leave,” but with the subtle understanding that he is also speaking to Bob Morton’s immortal soul; a moment immortalized in the official Spanish lobby cards:
He then blasts Bob Morton’s legs into a divergent timeline wherein Biff Tannen becomes president and pops the DVD into Bob Morton’s admittedly impressive entertainment center. Dick Jones appears on all five televisions to erase what little remains of Bob Morton’s dignity with one savage final windmill dunk, the gist of which is, “Yesterday, you smelled my shit. Today, you’re gonna eat it.”
Clarence Boddicker then leaves a grenade on Bob Morton’s coffee table next to the cocaine and walks out, gently closing the front door behind him, which is possibly my favorite detail in the entire film.
Bob Morton claws feebly at the grenade as Dick Jones’ prerecorded roast continues to play, but only succeeds in knocking the bomb out of reach before it finally explodes. Bob Morton’s final thought before being catapulted out of this world is, “I’m about to be murdered by a guy who forced me to smell the colossal dump he took at work yesterday.”
That’s what happens when you call Dick Jones a pussy, Bob.
Tom Reimann runs the Gamefully Unemployed podcast and streaming network with David Bell. He also writes for Some More News, and is allegedly a Senior Editor at Collider.
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