TV

Sean Spicer Is Basically RoboCop

Sean Spicer's character arc on Dancing With the Stars is ripped straight from RoboCop.

ABC

In a dystopian American future, a man who has lost everything and been shamed and brutalized beyond recognition is revived by a mega-corporation and brought back into society as both a hero of the people and a tool of fascism. Welcome to Dancing With the Stars starring Sean Spicer.

As disgraced ex-U.S. press secretary Sean Spicer glorbled his way around the dance floor to "Spice Up Your Life" by Spice Girls, the very fabric of reality collapsed around my computer screen. "Glorbled" isn't even a real word, but there's no other way to capture the alienness of witnessing Sean Spicer gleefully smacking bongos in a frilly, lime green top and dumpy, ill-fitting slacks. This is a man who used his official position as the White House mouthpiece to knowingly lie to the American public, and now that he's left the government in disgrace, we're watching him crotch slide. Excuse my language, but what the f*ck is wrong with us?

Sean Spicer's Salsa – Dancing with the Stars www.youtube.com

Then it dawned on me. This premise is ripped straight from RoboCop, Paul Verhoeven's enduring 1987 cyberpunk-satire that warned against capitalism run amuck.

RoboCop takes place in a dystopian-future Detroit on the brink of collapse until a mega-corporation called Omni Consumer Products (OCP) steps in to save the day. OCP turns the once-downtrodden city into a bustling, high-end utopia and also takes control of the police force. So when Alex Murphy, one of the best officers on the force, gets brutally murdered in the line of duty, OCP uses his corpse as the test subject for an experimental cyborg program, reanimating him as RoboCop.

RoboCop quickly becomes a hero to the public, operating on three Prime Directives: Serve the public trust, protect the innocent, and uphold the law. But there's a secret fourth directive RoboCop doesn't know about: "Any attempt to arrest a senior officer of OCP results in shutdown." In short, RoboCop is designed to be a tool of corporate fascism, capable of reinforcing the ruling party's will while never turning against his creators, no matter what they do.

robocop Orion Pictures

Verhoeven's entire point in RoboCop is that corporations only care about social goodness to the extent of their ability to profit off it. ABC seems to be doing everything in their power to prove him right, and what better way to do that than by stealing RoboCop's character arc for Sean Spicer?

Like RoboCop, Sean Spicer is a man who has been brutalized by society. There are some differences, of course––Alex Murphy was very good at his job, while Sean Spicer was a total nincompoop––but for all intents and purposes, Sean Spicer's public image is battered and bloody, just like Alex Murphy's corpse after being torn apart by shotgun blasts.

Luckily for Spicer, ABC can rebuild him. They have the technology and, more importantly, a primetime TV slot. So just as OCP outfits Murphy's corpse with android technology and sends him out to patrol, ABC outfits Spicer in silly costumes and sends him out to dance. They hope that, in the same way the dystopian Detroit public came to love RoboCop, so, too, will the dystopian American public––most of whom ABC hopes have been lobotomized by the 24-hour news cycle––come to love goofy dancing Sean Spicer.

One would hope people could see through the charade and crush ABC's attempts to normalize a guy who literally defended Hitler. But I'm not so confident we can do that.

You know those movies that have been parodied, memed, and referenced so much that you feel like you've seen them–but you never have and, honestly, why would you bother?

You know that at the end of Taxi Driver Travis Bickle may or may not hallucinate a violent episode, and you've seen people dress up in Robert De Niro's utility jacket, black shades, and weird Roman soldier haircut at every Halloween party you've ever attended. You know that Scarface's Tony Montana screams, "Say hello to my little friend" while wearing a suit with giant lapels and holding a machine gun. How do you know this? No, you've never seen the movie; the fact is that the sheer masterpiece of a few key scenes capturing the climax of a film can overshadow the entire production. Sure, you want to sit down to watch them "one day," but you just never get around to it.

Keep Reading Show less
TV

Don't Congratulate The Bachelor Franchise for Exploiting an LGBTQ Relationship

In response to claims that the show is outdated, they're pandering to viewers and exploiting the LGBTQ community.

ABC Network

If the Bachelor franchise supports LGBTQ partnerships, why do they need to bring in a queer person from outside of the franchise instead of building same-sex romance into the foundation of their shows?

Last week, Demi Burnett came out as queer on Bachelor in Paradise. Her courageous act was followed by an admission: She dated a woman before the show and couldn't stop thinking about her. Her predicament received mixed reactions from fans. The most extreme compared Demi to Jed Wyatt— the dishonest contestant who got engaged to the former Bachelorette, Hannah Brown, after lying to her face about having a girlfriend. In contrast, Demi was honest with her on-island love interest, Derek Peth, who was extremely understanding.

However, Tuesday night's episode did reveal a double standard between how the show deals with straight relationships and how they deal with queer ones.

This past week, Demi opened up to host Chris Harrison about her difficult situation: She was still thinking about the girl she dated, Kristian, and felt conflicted about being away from her.

The following day, Harrison explained that he'd thought about their discussion and invited Demi to walk up the mighty Bachelor in Paradise entry steps. When she made it to the top, she gleamed with joy. Kristian was in Paradise! Immediately, Demi hugged her girlfriend. The moment felt genuine. They kissed, embraced, and called one another "beautiful."

Demi's Girlfriend Kristian Arrives! | Bachelor In Paradise www.youtube.com

"The more time I was away from you, the more and more I thought about you and the more time I spent with him, you just came to the forefront," Demi told Kristian. "The second that I saw you, I knew it's you, and it's always been you, and I want to be with you."

Afterward, Demi had to reconcile with her place on the show and make a clean break from Derek, having finally obtained clarity.

During their "break-up," Derek broke down. In tears, he lamented that he's always been told that he's a "nice guy" but continuously feels like he's not enough. Demi had him sit down with Kristian to acknowledge their respect for one another and ensure they'd be okay on the show together.

Then Demi took Kristian down to the famous Paradise deck to introduce her to the cast, proclaiming that they would explore their relationship on the show. Demi's friends cheered in support (yes, in front of Derek).

The reality is that no one would be clapping if she'd done the same with a man. Double standards never seem to escape The Bachelor franchise. In fact, the whole incident sheds light on how complicated sexuality fluidity can be, and how the feelings of a bisexual person's partner can fall on the back burner as they come to terms with their identity.

Unfortunately, as happy as I was to be represented on screen, I couldn't help but feel forced into the production. The couple's admissions of love indicated the pair were more involved than Demi ever alluded to on the show. She led Bachelor Nation and Derek into believing her connection with Kristian was less serious.

Furthermore, Demi didn't handle the situation well at all. She made her relationship with Kristian seem much more casual than it was. Kristian even told her that she didn't appreciate being taken for granted as a second option. During their date, when Demi finally committed to her, Kristian giddily professed, "I love you." Demi shockingly returned the proclamation, saying, "I love you too."

Demi & Kristian's First Date In Paradise | Bachelor In Paradise www.youtube.com


Despite being elated for Demi, viewers like me were upset, conflicted, and confused. Not only did Demi lead on both Derek and the audience, but ABC packaged it as celebratory of the LGBTQ+ community. If anything, it felt demeaning.

And let's be honest. A network reality TV show like The Bachelor would never allow a bisexual man to explore his sexuality with both sexes in the same way. Sadly, in 2019, that's still a harder pill to swallow than two blonde women making out.

But if the show seriously wants to be celebrated as "groundbreaking television," then it should incorporate queer people into the system and foundation of the franchise, instead of going out of its way to "produce" a queer relationship by bringing in an unknown contestant unrelated to their show.

In spite of all that, Demi and Kristian's love and commitment to one another is still moving and necessary for mainstream audiences to see. The Bachelor production allowing both of them to stay and pursue their relationship, despite its odd break from regular formatting, presents a significant opportunity for the brand to actually take advantage of the praise it's receiving to create meaningful, if not questionable, LGBTQ+ representation.