Demolition Man: Sci-Fi or Terrifying Prophecy?

“Demolition Man” from the early ‘90s wasn’t just an action adventure/ sci-fi comedy starring Stallone, Snipes and Bullock. It was an oracle in movie form, a prophetic finger pointing toward certain roads we were traipsing down which, in retrospect, we did end up traversing: enthusiastically, merrily, and blindly, in my opinion.

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The more benign predictions included Tablets, instructional videos (like YouTube), self-driving cars, GPS. Well, as benign as technology can be, considering the more we depend on machines for our everyday existence, the more our self-reliance, patience, and even empathy shrinks in direct relational contrast.

Maybe fostering that change in temperament and diminished thought processes has contributed to the slow takeover of the more malevolent predictions of Demolition Man, namely these things, as spelled out by Sandra Bullock’s character in one scene:

“Ah, smoking is not good for you, and it’s been deemed that anything not good for you is bad; hence, illegal. Alcohol, caffeine, contact sports, meat…Bad language, chocolate, gasoline, uneducational toys and anything spicy. Abortion is also illegal, but then again so is pregnancy if you don’t have a license.”

When I was living in Brooklyn in the early ‘90s, I first heard the phrase parents were implementing with their kids: “Use your words.” There was a story about a child having a tantrum, and in the midst of it, grabbed his mother’s hand and bit down on her finger so hard, he drew blood. Her only response to the over-the-top, hostile and violent behavior of her child was to bend down, look into his eyes and say, “Use your words.”

Today if your child bites down on your finger hard enough to draw blood and you have the normal reaction of screaming, jerking your finger out of his mouth, then whirling him around and spanking him….you could actually be arrested for “child abuse.” That is, if an armchair conservative with Tea Party sensibilities and an unshakeable disbelief in evolution is quick enough to pull out their cell phone and, drawing on a ‘50s-style McCarthyistic sense of righteousness, call the police.

In “Demolition Man”, Stallone is reawakened into a futuristic L.A. which has been reformed and renovated into a Disney-like crime-free utopia, similar to the “faux” Times Square Giuliani created during his tenure in New York, along with the “gentrification” of many other neighborhoods and areas, which actually means, of course, that he pushed as many low income and/or ethnic people out as possible, and then spray-painted glitter over graffiti and century-old bricks, paving the way for Starbucks and Sephora to take center stage.

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At one point during the movie, Sandra Bullock and Benjamin Bratt start singing the Armour Hotdogs song because jingles are part of the popular entertainment. Their child-like behavior was a prophetic shoe-in for the eternal adolescence that people in general seemed to be mired in today. Nothing else can explain the popularity of the Kardashians, Snooki, The Housewives, Survivor, or the myriad other reality TV shows featuring full-grown adults talking about nothing, doing nothing, and behaving as if they’re 20 years old. Behavior which has become fully accepted! It’s not like 45 is the new 35. 45 is the new 18. And I think it all stems from those kids in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, who only got a “firm talking to” after they had chewed one of their parents’ fingers off!

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With intelligence rapidly plummeting and maturity being delayed for decades, it’s no wonder the Nanny State has blossomed into a full-fledged oligarchy starring the well-known and nameless corporations that direct every inch of our reality. If you think that the helmet laws and seatbelt laws and the tax on cigarettes and now sugary drinks are rules and regulations meant to help you, please take a moment to think again.

Nobody cares about you. Nobody cares if you smoke or get fat or fly through the windshield of your car when you smash into a tree. It’s an oligarchy. An oligarchy that cares about business, and what bigger business is there than insurance companies? Insurance companies  definitely do not want to pay for your rehabilitation after you crack your skull open on a motorcycle because you weren’t wearing a helmet. They do not want to pay for surgery and/or medication after a lifetime of junk food consumption and obesity issues.

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It definitely looks like Demolition Man was cued into something, like the guy that wrote Future Shock, Alvin Toffler, was the co-writer or something. Like maybe they had been there when the kid bit down on his mother’s finger until it bled and watched in amazement as she talked to him in a calm voice instead of a normal reaction of smacking him hard on his rear and screaming into his face, “DON’T YOU EVER DO THAT TO MOMMY AGAIN!”

Because I think if that had happened, the normal thing, and not this new, scary, Big Brother nee Nanny State, we-are-sheep-tell-us-what-to-do-keep-making-mindless-entertainment-tell-us-what-to-eat-make-smoking-illegal-although-booze-and-cars-and-fracking-aren’t-and-let’s-not-even-get-into-cops-murdering-unarmed-black-men-and-arrested-minorities-to-keep-the-privitazation-of-prisons-alive society never would have happened.

And “Demolition Man” would have remained a charming, tongue-in-cheek sci-fi adventure instead of a template for what was to come. And the reality we are living in now.

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