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Demolition Man is an action and science fiction film released in 1993 and set in 2032 in Los Angeles. It starred an established Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock, who would later become “America’s sweetheart” in the 1990s, in one of her first major roles, and Wesley Snipes before he achieved stardom with Blade and was sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion.
Demolition Man was largely inspired by Aldous Huxley’s influential novel, Brave New World. In fact, Sandra Bullock’s character is named Lenina, like the novel’s protagonist, and her last name is Huxley. Although it only takes some general ideas from Huxley’s dystopia, it shares with this work a series of premonitions.
The plot of the film consists of the fact that in 1996, John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is a bold and energetic policeman who, trying to stop a dangerous sociopathic killer named Simon (Wesley Snipes), gets himself involved in the death of hostages due to his unorthodox methods.
Both Simon and Spartan are punished with a novel and experimental sentence, the so-called cryo-prison, by which the criminals are frozen in a kind of hibernation where a computer program re-educates them for future reintegration.
36 years after the sentence, in 2032, Simon is awakened for the evaluation of his parole, which he takes advantage of to kill the prison director and escape, sowing chaos in the futuristic city of Los Angeles. In this new world things are very different and the police are not trained to use violence, since crime has been eradicated thanks to the iron-clad genetic control and educational programming invented by the new mayor, Dr. Cocteau.
Faced with the manifest inability of the soft police officers of the future, they decide to revive John Spartan from his cryogenic lethargy, so that he can help the police to arrest Simon. Spartan is assigned the company of Lieutenant Lenina Huxley, a young police officer who is a fan of everything to do with the 20th century.
During her mission, Lenina helps Spartan to try to understand the workings of this strange new society, and in turn Spartan helps her to discover what the 20th century was really like, since she had a totally distorted image of it.
Together with Spartan, we discover that this seemingly happy and peaceful world is actually a dystopian nightmare of government control, hiding its miseries in the sewers, where the revolutionaries led by Edgar Friendly are to be found, who are nothing more than the misfits of this new regime. Unlike on the surface, the prohibitions and restrictions of the new world do not exist there, and although there is violence and misery, freedom, emotions and feelings, totally outlawed by Dr. Cocteau, continue to exist.
In the end, with the help of Spartan, not only did they defeat the criminal Simon, but it was discovered that he had been reactivated by Cocteau himself to destroy the resistance in the sewers, which threatened to overthrow Cocteau’s tyranny, disguised as false peace and harmony.
Many of the situations that Demolition Man posed in 1993 and then seemed ridiculous, today, with 11 years left until the film’s development in 2032, no longer seem so far-fetched and can even be considered premonitory.
Only one restaurant and food brand, Taco Bell, is allowed in the new Los Angeles. Although in the future all food served is of vegetable origin, with veganism being mandatory, alcohol, caffeine, meat, spices, unhealthy foods in general, salt and tobacco are prohibited.
Totalitarians like Cocteau love that everyone has to adjust to their particular tastes. They do not have enough with not consuming what they do not like; they feel the impulse to prohibit it to all the others, in the name of the tiresome “it is for your own good” and with the endorsement of “the scientists.” Does it ring a bell?
Insults are forbidden. Any swearword or minimally offensive expression is a violation of the “verbal morality statute,” and the offender is punished with a fine issued by omnipresent machines that monitor everything. Freedom of expression is non-existent. It seems as if these machines have been programmed with the source code of the current Facebook and Twitter algorithms.
Neo-language and euphemisms keep society infantilized, everything is potentially offensive and needs to be softened. Murder is called “unsanctioned termination of life,” songs are banned and only advertising jingles are heard that do not refer to love, hate, passion or sadness.
Weapons are forbidden and they only exist in museums. The police are diplomatic and do not employ aggression, it seems that they took the “defund the police” very seriously. The society is completely docile and obeys without question the designs of the megalomaniac Cocteau. Nor do they have the means to defend themselves or to rebel. Cryo-prisons are re-education camps and, curiously enough, a ruthless criminal like Simon would sooner be granted parole than the heroic policeman John Spartan.
Cocteau’s tyranny is a dictatorship without tears. After an affable smile and a false peace, the people have surrendered to Cocteau’s totalitarian control, after a period of anarchy and looting that he himself promoted from the shadows. Now he wants to finish the lamination of the opponents led by Friendly, using Simon for a new false flag attack to further consolidate his power.
Physical contact is prohibited to prevent the spread of disease. Social distancing is their new normal. Even traditional sex is forbidden and forgotten, having been replaced by “Vir-Sex” technology, virtual reality helmets with which to emulate pleasure. The birth rate is totally controlled and planned. On the one hand, abortion is prohibited, but on the other hand, to have a child by artificial reproduction you must have a license.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career
In the Los Angeles of the future, Arnold Schwarzenegger was president of the United States. They were almost right because he was the governor of California. The film tells how the Constitution was changed so that a foreigner could be president.
The three seashells
Finally, they predicted the fascination of toilet paper in times of crisis. In the future it has been replaced by three seashells.
I recommend watching this film again almost 30 years after its release. Its predictions have taken on a new dimension, and it seems that most of them are coming true. The sad thing for freedom lovers is that the only one that doesn’t seem to be doing so is the three seashells, so their functioning will remain a mystery.
Ignacio Manuel García Medina, Business Management teacher. Artist and lecturer specialized in Popular Culture for various platforms. Presenter of the program "Pop Libertario" for the Juan de Mariana Institute. Lives in the Canary Islands, Spain // Ignacio M. García Medina es profesor de Gestión de Empresas. Es miembro del Instituto Juan de Mariana y conferenciante especializado en Cultura Popular e ideas de la Libertad.
Social Networks: @ignaciomgm