RoboCop Fans Raise $50,000 To Erect Detroit Statue, Officials Fear Dystopia
DETROIT — Your move, Detroit.
A group working to build a statue of the fictional crime-fighting cyborg RoboCop in the city said it has reached its fundraising goal of $50,000 after a social networking campaign exploded in support of the project. The next step: convincing the mayor and city officials it's a good idea.
"I am very positive that it's gonna happen," organizer Brandon Walley said Wednesday.
The 10-day-old RoboCop saga started innocently enough when Detroit Mayor Dave Bing's social media manager answered a Twitter query about a possible statue. That response – "There are not any plans to erect a statue to Robocop. Thank you for the suggestion" – led to a firestorm of commentary online, with Twitter users making it a top trending topic for days.
As recently as Wednesday morning, "RoboCop" was still one of the 10 most-searched terms on Yahoo!
Imagination Station, a Detroit-based nonprofit that latched on to the topic's viral fervor, set up a way for backers to donate to the project via the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.
The effort yielded more than $25,000 in donations. A private source matched the funds, and now Imagination Station has the $50,000 it has been told it would take to erect such a statue.
Bing, for his part, remains skeptical, and no timetable exists for construction.
"My own personal opinion is that I don't see where we get a lot of value from that," the mayor said.
Walley said he sees potential for the planned 7-foot sculpture in the city, hoping RoboCop would draw the curious and tourists, just as the Rocky Balboa likeness does in Philadelphia and the Fonzie statue known as "Bronze Fonz" does in Milwaukee.
Plus, it's just a cool idea, said Walley, 35, who lives in the city.
"There's definitely a pop icon, kitsch factor to it, for sure, but it's definitely in the light-humorous end. It's not funny in that it's a joke on Detroit or anything like that," he said, referencing fears the statue would play to the perception that Detroit is plagued by crime and violence.
The 1980s science fiction film was set in a futuristic Detroit in which crime ran rampant and centered on police officer Alex Murphy (played by Peter Weller), who is killed in the line of duty and resurrected as an alloy-encased part-man, part-machine being prone to equal parts crime-fighting and butt-kicking.
Weller, who was recently nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award along with the other members of the "Dexter" cast and is pursuing a Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history at UCLA, was clear on one issue: He doesn't care about the statue depicting him personally. On one hand, he says he understands people who say that Detroit has more pressing issues to deal with, but he also sees that it's an emblem of what's great about Detroit, too.
"I think it's a great thing as far as a public service. As far as a personal emblem, it doesn't make any difference to me," he said.
Associated Press writer Corey Williams contributed to this story.