If you look up any scene for this movie, you have probably seen this comment floating around. “Demolition Man was a silly movie until it became a reality”. “We are all living in Demolition Man’s world now”. “I cant say a bad word without being ostracized, just like in Demolition Man”. This actually very fun 1993 blockbuster is mostly referenced due to the apparently new tendency that we are living in a society where everyone, everywhere feels offended and/or has “gone soft” somehow. Little do they know this movie is about how such a society is unsustainable. Pretty much just like in the movie.
People who comment on Demolition Man this way tend to criticize that society as a whole gets offended by everything. That saying something that might offend someone, somewhere will cause them to get “cancelled” or banned from public forums. Another criticism is that public opinion is run by marketing and brand affiliation. That “wokeness” and virtue signalling have become the norm in a sort of oppressive regime that supports censorship. There are some truths in our tribal-driven culture, and yes corporate power and greed are not something to be underestimated in the status quo. But lets be honest, aside from extreme examples, the vast majority of people’s identity isn’t driven by one affiliation and tribe. People in general are not that dumb and simple.
To be honest this says more about the circles and bubbles we put ourselves in. The line between humor and downright bigotry is quite subjective, and as always Context is King. Sure, black humor is a thing, and I personally don’t think dark jokes are that harmful if we make a point of keeping them as a joke. Does that mean I would tell the same joke to my lifelong buddies as I would to my aunt at the family dinner? Of course not. I wonder if these people tell the same jokes between their own buddies, their family, professional setting or the cab driver they met 20 seconds ago. We fail to understand social media is mass media now. They´re private platforms that must appeal to the lowest common denominator, and have to set their terms of service accordingly. Im not a saint when it comes to brashful comments, I don’t think anyone is, But even if I make a joke on my buddy Jimmy´s stature knowing he won’t be offended by it, I sure won’t be making the same comment to Jimmy´s mother, for example.
Some would even say society in general has gone so soft, that it emulates the movie´s premise, where even the police are not able to deal with a Tough Guy like Simon Phoenix and have to call on Tough Guy Number 2 Stallone’s character, John Spartan (Can you think of a better Tough Guy name than Spartan?) to take him out.
But, are’t we missing something here?
Yup. This guy, and the entire society he lives in. The’re called The Scraps in the movie.
In Demolition Man, we discover that the real villain is not Simon Phoenix, but Raymon Cocteau, the man who set him free. Why did he do that? Because he wanted Phoenix to kill Edgar Friendly and his impending revolution. Read that again, His impending revolution. The whole point of the movie is that Cocteau’s Crystal Spires and Togas utopia is not sustainable if he doesn´t get rid of the people he marginalized.
Demolition man is not about how society has gone soft. It’s about how such a world would not be possible without brutally putting down those who opose one man´s regime. It’s more about people in power stomping on everyone else to get to live a lavish and problem-free life. It’s a Kill/Bury the Poor and Then Noone Will be Poor kind of story. How Cocteau managed to do this so far with an incompetent and pretty much useless police force is anyone’s guess. Here is where some would say “See? its an oppressive regime, just like the one we are living in!” Give me a fucking break. And the fact that I can say it this way is proof of that. The fact that this movie came out and is still around is proof of that.
“But I got banned from Twitter for saying stuff about the X!” some might say. Really? That’s your freedom of speech getting stomped? Or are you trying to say something in the platform that has to catter to Jimmy’s mom and her son and violates the Terms of Service you agreed upon? “I got called a Boomer by a bunch of 14 year olds in Tumblr and felt sad about it!” like, really? In a world where we have actual oppressive regimes that will beat, incarcerate and even execute people because of their race, religion, sexual preference or political views? People who complain like this are not The Scraps, They are Spires and Togas and dont even know it.
Thats the real beauty about Demolition Man. The people with the real, actual problems are the ones that are trying to rise up, and the regime is trying to forcefully put them down. It is about how fake and unsustainable their utopia is. Even John I-levelled-an-entire-building-in-a-hostage-situation Spartan aknowledges the use of violence is not the sign of a healthy society and calls out Sandra Bullok’s character, Lenina on this.
My only criticism in the movie is how they made the police force part of the ignorant utopia. There’s literally thousands of people under their feet trying to break out and they seem to be completelly ignorant of their existence. I guess they had to make the police force the good guys, when in reality they would be the ones enforcing the regime. Maybe Cocteau could’ve used mercenaries to keep the oppressed, well, oppressed, instead of the police force, but then why would he need Simon Phoenix for? It’s an excuse for the plot for an action movie so I guess thats ok. We shouldn’t take it that seriously in the first place.
There’s plenty of other specific things a lot of people like to complain about and compare to the movie, so we decided to make a part 2 of this article. and compile a list the things Demolition Man actually got right and wrong.