We at The Hub and probably lots of you have noticed that the issue of the week in Detroit has been the RoboCop statue. Below is a “Con” view. Here is a direct link to the “Pro” post.
Rat traps, racism, raccoons and RoboCop. That is what Detroit will be known for if we keep this up.
Yes, this is another diatribe about the Imagination Station project to raise $50,000 in an effort to create a RoboCop statue in Detroit. Personally, if you want to throw money into a foolhardy enterprise like this, God bless you and your empty wallet. If you want to put on a show of how cool you are, if you want to amuse your friends with how witty you are or if you want to pretend your efforts will do something for Detroit, then fine. I’m not going to change your mind. Erect your statue; I’ll be the one cheering when some teenagers knock it down on a late-night bender.
But don’t pretend this thing – this meltdown of social-media doofusness – is doing anything for Detroit but making us look irrelevant and misguided. It’s not art. It’s not tourism. It’s not boosterism. It’s a bunch of kids goofing around, pulling a prank akin to Ashton Kutcher. And without the trucker hats, there’s nothing cute or funny about it.
Really, people. Get a grip on yourselves. The New York Times and ABC News wrote about the RoboCop statue. This is like getting on TV because you made your dog ride a skateboard or your stuffed squirrel went water-skiing and you brought along a video camera. It’s plain-old buffoonery, and it’s stooping to the lowest level to amuse someone.
If this had happened in June or July, we’d all have been outside and no one would have noticed one foolish Tweet to Mayor Bing. Even the guy who wrote the original question admits it was a JOKE. (In fact, he added it was a “joke run a muck.” I think he meant amok.) Nothing good has ever come out of Tweeting – for goodness sake, Tweets are just a way to kill time between coffee breaks. It’s about as deep as a kiddie pool, and we all know what those toddlers are doing in there.
And don’t get me started on the company that so generously gave the project $25,000 to finish the deed. Anyone who has that much money to throw away is already questionable. I don’t think the company in question should go build a school in Africa. But at some point, don’t you say to yourself, “If I’ve got this much extra money on hand, perhaps I could do something with it?” Bill Gates isn’t sitting around snickering with Warren Buffet about putting up an “Adventures in Babysitting” statue in Chicago. Grow up, Company X. I refuse to reprint the name here because that’s just one more piece of promotion this enterprise doesn’t deserve. You are using Detroit to generate a buzz, some chatter about your goofy name and goofy products. You are doing nothing for this city – it’s all about getting your name out there. And there’s no way I’m adding to your treasure trove of press clips.
If it feels like exploitation, walks like exploitation, then it is…
And to those who think this might be the start of something for the city…It isn’t. No one is going to contribute to Kickstarter projects about Detroit just because of RoboCop. Most of the boobs that gave their dough did it because it was just a kick in the pants to do it. It was funny. They could post about it on their Facebook status updates using their iPhones while sipping a Tall Mocha while wearing their Ugg boots while reading “Catcher in the Rye.” You get my drift.
Yes, like most of us Debbie Downers, I’d prefer to see donations to the Greening of Detroit. To a homeless shelter. To a school that needs books. To a legitimate project that doesn’t mortify the city or its denizens. And kudos to Geekweek for thinking of giving its collective money to Forgotten Harvest. And in case you were wondering: Yes, I am a member of the “Detroiters Against a RoboCop statue” Facebook page — and I don’t even need a reason to goof off at work.
I will say this RoboCop stuff reminds me of that Ice House Detroit project last year. (As an aside, they only asked for $11,000 to create something; why does RoboCop deserve $50k?) Granted, those two artists did get involved in the neighborhood where they froze a house. I didn’t think that was much of a statement about Detroit. But at least a few people got fed and some good came out of what otherwise was two guys playing with water. And I did indeed donate to their cause; it was an interesting idea. But no way am I giving any money to a cybertron police statue.
Yes, we all need to have a little fun in our lives. But we also need to get serious when the moment comes. And the moment is now. Don’t use this money for a statue; find some higher purpose. The bottom line: Don’t be a wiseacre about Detroit. Life is too short to waste on something like this. We’re already the Kmart of cities; let’s not do anything more to become a punch line on Jay Leno.
To date, more than $58,000 has been pledged toward Robocop. More than 2,000 people have pitched in. You might think that’s something. But to me…that’s a whole lot of nothing.
P.S. I tried to get Peter Weller to weigh in, but he was too deluged with media requests to chat. And the Mayor’s office never called back. And I did try to get the Imagination Station people to call, but they’re busy (fielding requests to be on Glee? Guest judge on American Idol? The mind reels).
P.P.S. My favorite Tweet from the guy who started this all? “Raising $80,000 for a RoboCop statue is cool. But raising $160,000 & using half of it to help Detroit would be a lot cooler IMO.” I’m just saying…