Ramone’s Rendezvous with Robocop: A Retrospective
Alliteration aside (sorry, I did it again), I love Robocop. Robocop was the first film my parent's wouldn't let me see, and what happens when you're not allowed to do or see something? Some of the details are fuzzy, as I was five, but I remember enough.
I was five years old when I first rented Robocop. I rented it from Blockbuster Video in West Bloomfield, MI, which had just opened (here's a fun little side fact: the first film I rented from this new Blockbuster Video was Super Seal. I rented it because it had a seal on the cover wearing a Superman cape. The seal did not have super powers. The box art lied to me. This would not be the first, or last time, a video or album cover has lied to me). Granted I was five, and it had an R rating, this somehow didn't stop my mom from letting me rent it. I'm assuming I grab the VHS tape and just gave it to my mom. I don't know how much you remember about Blockbuster Video, but when you rented a film, the clamshell case didn't show the artwork to the film you were renting. It did however give a brief synopsis of the film and give the rating. Again, the details are hazy, but I guess my mom never bothered to look at the rating; she probably saw the film was called Robocop and figured it was an all ages action film.
That evening I watched, or should I say started to watch, Robocop with mom and dad. The night started off well enough; being five, I sat in front of the television while mom and dad sat on the couch. If you've seen Robocop, you know how brutal and violent it is, but it doesn't start off that way. Let's cut to the part where the fun starts: about 20 minutes or so into the film, Alex Murphy wonders into an abandoned warehouse with his partner Lewis, and the two become separated. Well, Murphy is a cop and Clarence Boddicker and his gang don't like cops. So guess what Clarence Boddicker and his gang do to Alex Murphy when they see him? They get Ramone's mom to turn off the tape, that's what they do!
Clarence Boddicker and his gang start taking Murphy apart, piece by piece, by shooting off his limbs. And when Clarence Boddicker and his gang shoot off Alex Murphy's arm, Ramone's mom ejects the tape and returns it Blockbuster, returning with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. I've hated that film ever since.
Now, my mom was only doing what any good parent would have done. And I can't blame her, I would have shut the movie off too if I were her. I mean, a dude was getting his limbs blown off, do you expect a parent to let their five year old son watch this kind of filth? So, Robocop gets returned to Blockbuster and I have to watch Willy fucking Wonka.
In case you forgot what I told you in the first paragraph, what happens when you're a kid and you're forbidden to watch something? I had tasted blood and I wanted more! But how does a five year old kid get his hands on Robocop? There was no internet, so I couldn't YouTube it, and I don't think we had HBO at the time. So, I waited, until the day came when I would somehow get to finish my Roboadventure.
About two years later, mom and dad were going out of town and dropped me off at my Bubbe and Zaide's house (that's Yiddish for grandma and grandpa) for the week. For the next week, I would reside with Bubbe and Zaide in Hamilton, Ontario. To pass the time, my cousin Barry brought over a bag of VHS tapes, and guess what was in the bag! (At this point, I would like to pause for a moment and mention that my Cousin Barry is a mother fucking pimp!) Barry must have been 17 or 18 at the time, and I told him I wanted to watch Robocop. He's 17, he doesn't have any common sense. I told him mom and dad wouldn't mind, so Barry figured, "what the hell," popped in the tape, and forever sealed my fate as a Robofan.
So, the week ends, mom and dad return and guess what the first words out of my mouth were? You can imagine how pissed my mom was at Barry.
My rendezvous with Robocop was my introduction to violent films, and I've been watching them ever since. One of these days I'll tell you about my dad walking in on me watching Make Them Die Slowly.
So there it is, my introduction to Robocop and censorship. I hope you enjoyed reading another one of my poorly written blogs.