In the “RoboCop” Reboot, Samuel L. Jackson Is Basically Bill O’Reilly


Samuel L. Jackson in RoboCop

RoboCop/Facebook

Paul Verhoeven’s sci-fi action movie RoboCop (1987) is a famous satire of the excess and greed of the Reagan era. José Padilha’s 2014 reboot of RoboCop (in theaters on Wednesday) is also a critique of American society and power. The remake—starring Joel Kinnaman, Gary OldmanAbbie Cornish, Michael Keaton, and Jay Baruchel—takes place in the year 2028, mostly in Detroit. The American military is occupying countries all over the world—with the help of completely autonomous killer robots called “drones.” (Get it?) In this not-at-all-distant future, the United States has apparently invaded Iran in “Operation Freedom Tehran.” OmniCorp, which designs and manufactures these military robots, wants to put this technology to use in law enforcement on American soil. Thus begins a debate over civil liberties and human emotion.

But the best thing about the new RoboCop is Samuel L. Jackson‘s turn as the smartly dressed, flag-pin-wearing host of a cable-TV news and commentary show. His perspective is jingoistic, pro-US-empire, and staunchly pro-RoboCop and tough on crime. (“Why is America so robophobic?” he asks during a broadcast; he later asks if the US Senate has become pro-crime.) He cuts the mic of guests he disagrees with and is prone to loud swearing on camera. As you might guess, many critics have already compared Jackson’s character to Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. For instance, the name of the fictional show is The Novak Element, which sounds a bit like The O’Reilly Factor.

O’Reilly and Fox News did not respond to a request for comment regarding RoboCop‘s possible nod to The O’Reilly Factor. Jackson points to a different conservative host as his inspiration (via Blastr):

I play a character by the name of Pat Novak, who’s sort of a combination of Rush Limbaugh and Al Sharpton, if you can combine those two people. So I refer to him as Rush Sharpton…He has one of those shows that’s an opinion show, and his opinion is that automated policing is a good idea, so he’s a proponent of RoboCop.

You can check out Novak in action in the trailer below:

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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