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  • The very beginning gives this troper a Just Bugs Me moment - they automatically take Phoenix's word over Spartan's. Spartan is one of the city's most successful cops, whose accolades include nailing some of Los Angeles' worst scumbags of the age, and yet they still bang him in cryo-stasis. Spartan did a thermal check of the building, and that would probably have been confirmed by written reports, or at least the testimony of Zack, the pilot who drops him into Phoenix's hideout. Does it never even occur to Spartan's police chief that the hostages were already dead? Sure, it turns out that that's true later on, but you'd think it would've occurred to somebody before you just go and freeze Spartan right up like that?
    • Forensic evidence would have backed him up, since they wouldn't have died of burns or smoke inhalation (unles Simon was sadistic and smart enough to prepare the frameup by burning them alive earlier).
    • Even if he did that (burned the hostages alive) wouldn't the forensic examination show evidence that the victims were killed hours (or days) before Spartan came on the scene?
    • In the opening scene, Los Angeles seems to have descended into near-anarchy (and the novelization makes it even worse). Proper police procedure and the court systems were probably suffering pretty badly. FWIW, Spartan may have confessed out of guilt and that would probably end the investigation.
    • The police chief wanted a reason, any reason, to fire Spartan.
    • Or, you know, they had a trial and Simon was clever enough to make it possible to believe that Spartan's recklessness got the hostages killed. No one knows what happened except Spartan and Phoenix - everyone else just saw 30 crispy corpses that were probably crispified after Spartan broke police procedure.
    • It's worth noting that Spartan himself points out that he's not exactly anything to emulate or admire, and is in many ways as destructive as Phoenix. The two definitely have a bit of a Not So Different thing going on; both are destructive, impulsive, violent types, except one's on the side of anarchy and chaos and the other's on the side of law. However, they could both easily come across as equally bad extremes -- yeah, Phoenix is killing innocent civilians and taking urban warfare to the streets, but Spartan's destroying entire shopping malls to rescue one person (which, much as the "Fuck you lady!" kid has a point, is not exactly that much more socially constructive). Essentially, just because Phoenix is bad doesn't mean that people are gonna be inclined to think much better of Spartan; I mean, he's call the "Demolition Man" for Christ's sake, that's not exactly a nickname with many positive connotations.
  • Not to mention the cryo-stasis punishment. Sure, they're behaviourally altered, but at the end of the day they're as young, fit and able as the day they went in. And they don't get to see their family or interact with them, but they are conscious. Surely it's a bit Awesome but Impractical to do that? Just stick them in a cell?
    • I think that, for a lot of people, the cryo prison represented a NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) and Sealed Evil in a Can, with the product being "totally cured". You have no riots, no escapes[1], no "networking" between cons, and thus perfect peace of mind. Presumably, prisoners stuck in for anything less than a decade aren't off too badly, but anything more means the guy "doesn't deserve consideration", human rights be damned. I'm guessing the "completely awake" bit escaped their notice... or they purposely kept it out of the brochure.
      • On a bit of a tangent, can you imagine an isolation crazed John Spartan going on a rampage to rival Phoenix's out of grief/madness?
    • The cryo-cons would have been released into a completely different world without contacts or street cred. Presumably the hope would be that, cut off from all their old habits and friends, they'd have to reform by necessity.
      • Also without current job skills except what may have been added in cryo-rehab, no clue about modern inventions or recent laws, and so forth.
        • Well, we don't really know what the Cryo-prison's normal parole procedures are like. Once a criminal is considered "reformed," they could easily be enrolled in job training and cultural orientation.
        • We're forgetting that the prison effectively gives Powers as Programs / Suddenly Always Knew That to inmates, so no con is coming out of the prison without a useful trade (and matched to genetic disposition! How thoughtful!). Even Stallone/Spartan mentions an incredible urge to knit, so they must be able to modify behavior, discouraging criminal thought and encouraging lawful employment. Going by the warden's busy parole hearings in the opening, the system must be working well enough that releasing these reprogrammed cons poses no risk to the residents of Sugar Bowl San Angeles.
          • They don't actually release anyone, rehabbed or no. The Warden's in the middle of explaining this to Phoenix when Phoenix interrupts and then kills him.
    • What I don't get is how this is supposed to work. You arrest a guy for, say, armed robbery. He gets frozen. Ten years later he is released, and the only difference in his personality is that he's a hell (*BZZT!*) of a pastry chef now. We never really get any indication that the "rehabilitation" actually includes any "don't commit crimes anymore, asshole (*BZZT!*)" training. Spartan woke up with all his violent tendencies intact. So did the other criminals Phoenix had unfrozen. Sure, many criminals are not necessarily violence prone, and would happily join a society where they can make a decent living, but what about the others? Do they just decide to join Dennis Leary in the damn (*BZZT!*) sewer after they wake up?
      • This is especially weird since explicitly you can retrain someone to be unable to kill someone else (Simon can't shoot Cocteau). Would it be so hard to make it so someone can't kill at all? Why not do that?
        • Neither Spartan nor Phoenix are good examples of "normal" rehabilitation.
    • The "completely awake" isn't correct; since everyone reacts in surprise when Spartan says that he had any thoughts, and even then he says it was a nightmare about his wife trying to break through the ice to save him. However, it's fair to ask why everyone (except Phoenix) is still violent when released. Maybe it's just that the really violent people take longer to rehabilitate.
    • What gets me about the cryothing is how anyone who is unfrozen doesn't come out raw flippin' insane. Years and years of semiconsciousness while unable to move and do anything but think and dream... unfrozen convicts shouldn't even be able to formulate a coherent sentence. Unless Spartan exaggerated for effect, and what you get while frozen are just occasional dreams/nightmares, as if you were sleeping.
  • It's only been thirty-six years. Can they really have forgotten everything about the old-style? Considering how many people have survived since the Crapsack World period (Cocteau, Zach Lamb), you'd think somebody would've kept the youngsters informed. Even Chief Earle looks old enough to have seen the Dark Times, yet he finds everything from the old days inconceivable. Am I the only one who finds this odd?
    • It's not a total explanation, but part of it might be the same sort of phenomenon as the internet today. Most of us are old enough to remember the world before Google, Wikipedia and TV Tropes, but it's still hard to relate to if you're an internet junkie nowadays. The same thing's probably happened with adults in the future, but even more so since society itself has totally changed: they kinda remember what it was like before, but the world's change so much that it's only in a vague "wow, how did we ever survive back then" sorta way.
    • This really happens in real life. Not just with technology, like the above troper pointed out (another example being cheap calculators), but also with social mores. Witness how Americans who were alive during segregation react to the concept these days.
    • Think as well of the kind of tech they have in the future - they can reprogram people! While direct reprogramming is definitely in play, it's likely they use very effective propaganda and subliminal messaging on the population at large, and this is probably even a known and accepted fact. When Huxley walks into work, she gets a lecture from the chief about wishing for violence, and she thanks him for the "attitude adjustment." One of the dozens of unknown amendments was probably one that made state-controlled socialization legal.
  • Why would Cocteau bother to include 'Murder-Death-Kill', terrorism training etc in Phoenix's rehab program? Seems to me he was already pretty damn good at those things - sure teach him things like 'if you stick a glow-rod in capacitance gel it will make the car explode', but does a man like Phoenix really need to be given the propensity to kill people? A better program would've been 'kill Edgar Friendly and that's it, especially since Cocteau's utopia wouldn't be served by a total Ax Crazy anarchist. Did he drop the Idiot Ball or what?
    • I think a lot of the problem with Cocteau is that, being the architect of the new, ultra-peaceful world, he really didn't understand anything about violence or how to control it, and he had to learn the hard way that Evil Is Not a Toy. He was so naive that it never even occured to him that Simon could just override the "don't kill Cocteau" order with "hey, mook, you kill him"; it's not surprising that he got a bunch of other stuff about how to effectively use Phoenix wrong too.
      • Phoenix was a bit more elegant than that, actually. A direct order to kill Cocteau would probably also have been inhibited. Say it as a suggestion and to no person in particular, and it gets through."
  • How are you supposed to use the three seashells in place of toilet paper? What would be the most likely theory?
    • I imagine it's something along the lines of "Poop in one seashell, cover it with the other and use the third to wipe yourself."
      • And then clean the seashells for the next person how, exactly? Any method of doing so is bound to use more water, cleanser, and/or energy than wiping yourself with a scrap of t.p., so how exactly is this environmentally friendly?
    • Ohh...referred self to the link in the main entry. Eww, and that's futuristic?
      • It's not futuristic, but it's different, just like you could plausibly expect a future culture to be. For that matter, any one's culture method of cleaning feces is probably going to look pretty squicky to another culture; read up on some other methods used around the world today or in the past if you don't believe me.
      • No, it isn't something you could "plausibly expect" in the future. It's uncomfortable, unpleasant, impractical, and doesn't look like it would get the job done. Also, you're wrong about the use of toilet paper today and in the past. Historically, almost everywhere paper was widely available it was used for wiping after defecating. Only in places where paper was not ubiquitous or where most people could not afford it were other methods used. And in modern times every culture wealthy enough to afford toilet paper uses toilet paper. It's just more convenient and comfortable than any other method. There is no reason why would human culture, and especially American culture, would suddenly take a gigantic leap backward in their methods of personal hygiene, particularly after taking such a gigantic leap forward in every other technological area. Therefore, I submit that the link on the main entry was a joke picture and not meant to be taken seriously.
    • I think the interview answer was along the lines of the 'what was in the box' for Cast Away. "It was a plot device / throwaway gag, quit thinking so much about it."
  • Given that levels of technology presented in Demolition Man don't even exist TODAY (17 years after the movie was released) why would viewers be expected to believe that they would 20 years from now? And how could an entire society change like that in that short a period of time?
    While the younger members of society could adapt to the changes (as they would have been exposed since birth) the numbers of people born before the societal changes would far exceed newborns and as such the "status quo" would take a significant amount of time to change.
    • What type of technology seen in the movie doesn't exist today? Except maybe the futuristic gun, sex helmets and the graffiti removal, I couldn't think of anything really unfeasible with our technology today, maybe even when the film was made.
      • The only thing that's really mind-boggling is the cryo-prisons already existing in 1996.
      • How about the auto-driving cars?
        • You haven't seen the commercials for cars that can park themselves, or back out of parking spots and drive over to where you are, or any of that? We have the technology to make auto-driving cars right now, just that no one wants to do it because it would be ridiculously expensive even for luxury cars, and they'd have a hell of a time convincing the regulatory bodies that they were safe.
    • The second bit was answered a few lines above yours. As to the first, we humans are always overestimating how far tech is going to progress in the near future. The original Lost in Space? Was set in 1995.
      • Well, we overestimate some things and underestimate others. For example, Star Trek. We probably aren't going to have FTL travel by the mid-21st century. On the other hand, we already have cell phones more advanced than the communicator Kirk used in the original series.
        • Do we now? Can your cell phone call a ship in orbit in real time without (or even with) a cell tower nearby? Just 'cause it looks retro now doesn't mean it's less advanced.
        • A regular cell phone can't, because it isn't designed to, but a repurposed satellite phone easily could.
  • Okay, so the hamburger was made of rat meat. "You don't see any cows here, do you?" Fine. What I'm wondering is where did they get the bun?
    • Stolen from the surface world?
      • Yup. You wouldn't get meat, it's a veganopia, but flour and bread are expected.
  • The 61st Amendment allowed naturalized citizens to run for President. What pray tell could have led to the other 33 Amendments differentiating the Constitution in the movie from the actual US Constitution in the 1990's?
    • Does it matter? Stuff happened in the intervening years. Some of that stuff included an extra 33 Constitutional Amendments. The rest aren't mentioned because they're not relevant to the story. If you really need an explanation, just assume that the other 33 Amendments were what gave Cocteau the power to do things like outlaw salt, red meat, and swearing.
  • If eating meat is illegal, then how can a commercial about hot dogs be the most popular song in San Angeles?
    • Because it's not an actual commercial anymore, it's a "minitune".
    • Hot dogs made with fake soja meat, of the kind vegetarians eat even today.
    • You don't actually have to buy or consume the project to enjoy a catchy advertising jingle. It's just a song, it's not like literally forcing hot dogs into people's mouths or anything. It could just be something people don't really think about anymore, like how so many nursery rhymes have historical meanings that have been forgotten over time because they're not really relevant to our current situations. They're singing it without really thinking about it.
  • If a glow rod is like a Taser, should John Spartan have used it on that guy's head?
    • Tasers don't pulse gently and emit gentle auras of blue light when they touch somebody. It's actually probably meant to safely disrupt neural patterns or something.
  • If all the guns are in museums, then where'd they get all the spare ammo for suppressive fire?
    • For that matter, what idiot decided to include massive amounts of live ammo and working guns in a museum? Couldn't they have made replicas and destroyed the originals (or kept them in vaults)?
      • One of the idiots from the hippie idiot future they're in. The thought process was probably "Certainly no one would ever want to use these horrible implements ever again. We'll just put them there to remind everyone of how horrible they are. Replicas? Why bother?" Also, theoretically Spartan could have found some ammo in some part of the police department. While they probably would have gotten rid of all the guns, it's not unimaginable that a couple of boxes of ammo and clips could have been set aside and just shuffled from storage room to storage room in the intervening years.
      • Bear in mind that the guns and ammo were behind reasonably secure glass. It took Phoenix throwing a dude through it to break in.
  • If Cocteau only made those changes in San Angeles, what happened to the rest of the US? Or the world, for that matter. It couldn't have all changed the same way. And if the entire country became a bunch of toga-wearing pussies with nothing but glowrods and anti-graffiti walls for defense, it would be fairly easy to invade.
    • Cocteau's probably not the only one like him. Either that, or the ideas started with him and spread out from there until he was considered the de facto leader of the country. While they mention Schwarzenegger being President in the past, note they never mention a current one. But the film also applies that things are much less restricted on the opposite coast, at the very least.
  • Didn't the pen damage the retina? The tip was clearly visible in the scan.
    • Depends on what part of the retina the reader checks, but probably just a gory/horrifying version of Rule of Cool.
  • Why didn't the people living in the sewers just...go to Mexico or something? Or any place outside Cocteau's jurisdiction? Either way they're free of Cocteau's tyranny but at least this way they don't have to live in sewage and eat rats.
    • Considering that Mexico is usually at least a few steps below the US in its level of law and order at any given time, I imagine the entire country burned to the ground sometime around the point the Hollywood sign was set alight over here.
    • Because other regions protect their food with guns. Alternately, because the sewers are not connected there.
    • They probably don't want to leave. It's their home as well; they might not agree with how the society is run, but that doesn't mean they should have to pack up and go somewhere else just because some fusty little tyrant wants to ban everything they think makes life worth living. They're doing what countless oppressed groups have done in the face of their oppression; gritting their teeth and making a stand no matter how hard it is. There probably were people who thought like them who decided to move somewhere else, but that doesn't that everyone should if they didn't want to.

Notes

  1. (steal the ice block your ex-boss was in did you? Without the laser and other reviving accouterments you now have the world's most expensive ice sculpture)
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