Prior to his (insert any mid-’90s Stallone
movie here) inspired downfall, Sylvester Stallone starred in a
little sci-fi action flick named “Demolition Man” opposite a Dennis
Rodman-hairstyling Wesley Snipes and a then unknown (but always
untalented) Sandra Bullock. Critics dismissed it as mindless,
mindless and mindless.
Now, on the 10th Anniversary of that film’s release (actual
release date: Oct. 8th, 1993), the genius of this picture can truly
be realized. While critics have hailed films like “2001: A Space
Odyssey” and “Gattaca” as honest, intelligent portraits of a future
us humans may one day encounter, the viewing public now recognizes,
thanks to the recent recall election of Governator Arnold
Schwarzenegger, that Marco Brambilla’s opus “Demolition Man” is the
true prognosticator of a world we will one day call home.
Brambilla is a master filmmaker, now also known for his only
other two projects in the past decade – the Oscar-winning “Excess
Baggage” (well, it didn’t really win the Academy Award, Benicio del
Toro’s Oscar win for “Traffic” was just a make-up) and the ABC
mini-series “Dinotopia,” which is equaled only by Alex Haley’s
“Roots” on the cultural-awareness scale. In “Demolition Man,”
Brambilla did not surround his crystal-ball predictions with the
same pretentious “I’m so smart” heir of Kubrick’s “2001,” instead
he hid his genius behind the coating of a run-of-the-mill,
destroy-everything-that-moves action comedy.
Let’s take a look back at the subversive series of events that
drive the plot: As the tagline proclaims in a daring jab at
chronological actuality, Simon Phoenix (Snipes) is the 21st
century’s most ruthless criminal and John Spartan (Stallone) is the
21st century’s most dangerous cop. In 1996 Los Angeles, Spartan
finally gets a conviction on Phoenix, sending him into the all-new
punishment of suspended animation, but Spartan is also sent to this
land of the cryogenically frozen for a crime he did not commit.
Cut to 2032 and the paroling of Phoenix into the crime-free
society of a newly-named San Angeles (get it?) megalopolis. With
the blonde-haired Phoenix unleashing his flames on the city,
Spartan is called upon to once again save the day. However, not
only does the plot force Spartan to do battle with the ferocious
Phoenix, but he must also survive the very different world of 2032.
Culture shock at its best. Brilliant, Mr. Brambilla. Just
Spartan is assigned a partner named Huxley (Bullock) who
smoothly educates Spartan on the Big Brother-like realm into which
he has awoken. During a seemingly humdrum patrol, the pair walks
past a municipal building. And it is the subsequent conversation,
and its obvious relevance in our 2003 world, that lends credence to
all other elements of Brambilla’s 2032 reality.
Spartan: “Hold it! The Schwarzenegger Library?”
Huxley: “Yes, the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn’t he
Spartan: “Stop! He was President?”
Huxley: “Yes. Even though he was not born in this country, his
popularity at the time caused the Sixty-first st Amendment.”
Put the pieces together. Yes, the California govener-elect will
be our president one day. Back in 1993, “Demolition Man” said so.
So it must be true. It really isn’t that absurd, we’re only 34
amendments away from it being legally viable.
And now that the brilliance of “Demolition Man” is clear to
everyone, let’s analyze the other 2032 truths we will hold self
evident. There will be no booze, no cigarettes, no meat, no human
contact and no classicism. Profanities are illegal and wrongdoers
are immediately issued a fine. This is your future, America,
embrace it and bow down to the 20th century’s Nostradamus – Marco
Also, 20th century commercial jingles will be the Top 40 radio
hits. The road to this actuality is even clearer in 2003 than 1993,
as popular radio has been essentially boiled down to the simple
market rules of supply and demand. Bands and artists are no longer
musicians, but products to be sold. If that’s the case, then why
even hide the true nature of popular radio? Just turn to actual
jingles for actual products, from the Coors Light “Wingman” tune to
the Chia Pet theme.
In 2032, Taco Bell will be the sole survivor of the Franchise
Wars. As cloaked in secrecy as the Clone Wars of the “Star Wars”
trilogy, no one explains the actual events involved in the epic
battles between Taco Bell, McDonalds, Bennigans, Shenanigans,
Chotchkies and so on and so forth, but Taco Bell comes out on top.
Soft tacos and Mexican pizzas for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This
actually comes as great news to Ann Arbor residents, as we sit here
amid a local war between Wendy’s and Jimmy John’s.
One other piece of futurality left undefined is John Spartan’s
2032 kryptonite: the three seashells. It appears that toilet paper
becomes a relic of the past, with these beach elements serving as
the cleaner-uppers for our toilet encounters.
I for one am unafraid of 2032 and its foreign truths. I look
forward to witnessing President Schwarzenegger’s “I’ll be back”
four-more years speech and I must live to the day to understand
just how those damn three seashells really do work.