Nitpicking the Classics: 8 Things I’ll Never Understand About Demolition Man

Posted on by Jason Arango (jarango)
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Having aired multiple times recently on AMC, it's nice to see that Demolition Man has finally joined the ranks of Bloodsport and The African Queen as a legitimate American Classic. And, as what can easily be considered one of the top five cryogenically-frozen-to-be-thawed-out at-a later-date action movies of all time, it's unquestionably a triumph of 20th century cinema. Unfortunately, despite what was certainly a hefty consulting team of scientists, futurists, and other random advisers, the 1993 masterpiece still has a few flaws that nag at me even after all these years.

8. Too Many Double Standards in the Verbal Morality Statute

For the most part they really get this one right, with both Phoenix and Spartan being ticketed for the majority of their cursing. Still, it seems a bit odd that future Academy Award Winning Actress Sandra Bullock gets to say "You really licked his ass" without receiving a ticket. Surely the Verbal Morality Statute would act in a similar fashion to the MPAA and deem this at least marginally offensive? I guess the only logical assumption is that Huxley's accidental double entendres are immune, either because there's no point in penalizing naiveté, or just because lines like "Let's go blow this guy" aren't nearly as problematic in a future where "fluid transfer" has been outlawed.

7. No Diversity in Restaurant Choices

Even if you can get over the fact that in the future all restaurants are Taco Bell (except overseas, where they were actually Pizza Hut), it's still hard to understand how this would work from a logistical standpoint. Are there multiple fancy Taco Bells like the one we see in the movie? Is there a more casual version? Do the menus differ, and if so, wouldn't it be worth re-branding one of them to avoid confusion?

6. Video Chats Are Automatically Answered

Ignoring for a second the lost trend of gratuitous nudity in action movies, the scene in which a topless woman calls the wrong number and is immediately displayed on video chat seems unusual for an entirely different reason. At no point does John Spartan ask to pick up the call or even acknowledge that there's a call coming in. This can only lead viewers to deduce that either his phone was set to automatically answer or that in the year 2032 people can randomly pop up on your screen and see what you're doing just by giving you a phone call. The former definitely makes more sense, but even so, it seems a bit invasive.

5. No One Realizes the Oldies are Advertisements

There's no denying that minitunes are pretty damn catchy, but that still doesn't mean there aren't some problems with the primary oldies station playing classic ad jingles. Even if you're willing to buy into the conceit that Taco Bell is the only restaurant, are we to believe that brands as strong as Green Giant and Oscar Mayer have disappeared? Not to mention that in the year 2032 there should be at least one full generation of people who immediately remember those products (and their advertisements).

4. The Disappearance of Traditional Sex

If abstinence-only programs and ludicrously strict honor codes haven't been successful in curbing people's appetites for sex, it's hard to believe outlawing the exchange of bodily fluids would suddenly do the trick. Fortunately, donning a space helmet and melding your minds together is offered as a reasonable alternative, but as Stallone says himself, it's hardly a legitimate substitute to doing the "hunka chunka.*"

*Sidenote: This might possibly be the single most awkward euphemism ever put on film.

3. Those Damn Three Seashells

Plenty has already been written about the three seashells, so I don't want to belabor the point. Still, you'd have to believe that for the three seashells to be widely adopted, they'd need to both provide a substantial improvement over traditional toilet paper and be relatively intuitive to newcomers. As a result, Spartan's inability to figure out how they work has always seemed odd, but that doesn't mean everyone else isn't a dick for making fun of him instead of offering a quick explanation.

2. Constantly Calling John Spartan a Caveman

If you use Stallone's current age when the movie was filmed, even after being frozen for 36 years, John Spartan would be 83 years old. You'd have to imagine that unless San Angeles is some sort of Logan's Run-like youthtopia (which it can't be, since Dr. Cocteau is clearly old), there are other people who've been alive at least this long. For some reason, the police chief (who looks about 50) insists on calling Spartan a "caveman" at almost every turn despite being no more than one generation removed from the "brute savage." The most logical explanation is probably that the police chief is simply ashamed of his past and chooses to project his own insecurities onto Spartan in the form of petty name calling, but still, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

1. San Angeles Makes Zero Sense

Okay, zero sense might not be fair, since I do get the concept behind it. However, the LA/San Diego/Santa Barbara mashup seemingly operates in an isolated bubble separate from the rest of the United States. Although a reference is made to President Schwarzenegger, there's never any real explanation regarding whether or not the entire country is also operating as a Leave it to Beaver fantasy land, or if San Angeles is just the exception to the rule. You'd imagine it would have to be the latter, since Dr. Cocteau is credited with being the savior of the city, but if that's the case, how has San Angeles managed to isolate itself from the rest of the world? And, why haven't Edgar Friendly and his merry band of misfits just moved somewhere else? No matter what the answer, it's pretty obvious M. Night Shyamalan totally ripped off Demolition Man when he wrote The Village.

Which makes less sense?

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Three seashells + somebody's butt = uncomfortable feeling!

Posted By Mr.Truther,

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