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    Guns in the Museum 
  • Why the hell did the Museum with guns in it keep the guns loaded? It makes no sense to store guns only meant for display with live ammo. Even now it's a generally accepted that guns mounted for display shouldn't be loaded. So obviously a future full of sissies who are all scared to death of weapons and violence would know not to do that.

    Spartan getting sentenced 
  • The very beginning, for this troper - 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 freeze him in cryo-stasis. Spartan did a thermal check of the building that only found Phoenix and some of his goonies, and that would probably have been confirmed by written reports, or at least the testimony of Zachary Lamb, 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 (it clearly occurred that Spartan even had realized what Phoenix had done the moment the fire captain said, "There are bodies everyhere! There must be twenty or thirty. Everywhere!"), but you'd think it would've occurred to somebody before you just go and freeze Spartan right up like that?
    • If this were the real 21st century, forensic evidence would have backed Spartan up, since they wouldn't have died of burns or smoke inhalation. That is, unless Phoenix was sadistic and smart enough to prepare the frameup by tying them up and burning them alive earlier, which wouldn't be out of character for him.
    • 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?
    • I think you're missing something here. In the opening scene, Los Angeles seems to have descended into near-anarchy, and the novelization makes it even worse.note  Given this sort of anarchy, 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.
    • Spartan was causing enough controversy that the higher-ups were looking for any excuse to get him terminated. Capt. Heely is heard telling Spartan, "Damn it, John, I'm sick and tired of this 'demolition man' shit!", which suggests that for him and the other LAPD elements, the deaths of these hostages was the final straw.
    • Or, you know, they had a trial and Phoenix was clever enough to make it possible to believe that Spartan's recklessness got the hostages killed. No one knows what really happened except Spartan and Phoenix - everyone else just saw 30 charred 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 Phoenix is on the side of anarchy and chaos and Spartan is 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 does such things as destroy an entre mini-mall to rescue one person (which, much as the "Fuck you lady!" girl 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 called the "Demolition Man" for Christ's sake, that's not exactly a nickname with many positive connotations.
      • Considering that paying ransom is very, very, very rarely the answer in a real hostage situation (the captor often kills the hostage anyway to keep themselves from being identified, or just because it's easier), Spartan's actions were entirely justified and probably saved the girl's life. "Demolition Man" is a derogatory nickname, but no one who's got any merit ever claims that Spartan does not rank "to protect and serve" as his personal life philosophy. If he were as much of a don't-give-a-shit madman as Phoenix, he wouldn't have bothered doing the thermal scans for hostages... the opening makes it clear that the only reason he is going down to confront Phoenix, knowing that things are likely to get demolished, is that he thinks there are no innocents in the crossfire.
      • Ransom is indeed very rarely the solution to a hostage situation. But it's fair to suggest that Spartan's solution to the crisis was itself pretty clearly an extreme solution; in the real world, the police often manage to resolve hostage crises without destroying entire buildings to do so (granted, Spartan lives in a very Crapsack World, but still). At the very least, it's made pretty clear that while Spartan's methods may be necessary for the times, that doesn't mean people have to like Spartan or those methods — which they clearly don't. Yes, Spartan cares about innocent lives. No, he's not as rampantly sociopathic and murderous as Phoenix. But the whole point of the movie is that he is in many ways just as extreme, destructive and dangerous, only at the other side of the morality / law-enforcement spectrum. Plus, we're not talking about what Spartan is in this case, we're talking about what he looks like to other people. Be honest; if you heard about a guy who destroyed an entire massive building just to rescue one person, might you think even for a second that he was perhaps overdoing it just a little bit, and that a less destructive solution might possibly have been found if they'd looked hard enough?
  • 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 escapesnote , 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.
      • We do see one of the Warden's earlier morning meetings playing the piano at Taco Bell, so they are released. Presumably, being coded, they can be easily tracked.
      • The Warden merely stated that there is no parole in the form Phoenix is familiar with. I am not sure what form of parole a criminal would be familiar with today, but psychological examination by a single person in the presence of two guards seems to be uncommon.
    • 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, but that doesn't mean he can do it by proxy). 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.
      • I saw his comment about having dreams/nightmares were probably just hallucinations during the freezing/thawing process, because it would probably be impossible for any part of their brains to remain active and still be preserved. Simon's comment about "I've been dreaming about killing you for 30 years" was a joke.
      • Cocteau initially scoffs jovially at John's statement and tries to dismiss it, with everyone parroting him... but when John presses the issue and insists, notice how fast Cocteau's face goes rigid, and the very next thing he says is "The side effects of the freezing process are unavoidable." If you pay attention to the scene, it tells you that John's right, he was having thoughts and dreams in there, and Cocteau knows perfectly well it happens and that it probably does drive a lot of people insane, he just doesn't care.
    Memory in the future 
  • 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, Warden Smithers, 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 changed 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.
    • There are plenty of organisations that still teach the old techniques even if they are outdated just so they are never lost. For example, pretty much all ships use computers to plot their course to the next destination or in and out of the harbour, but all sailors are still taught how to do it by physical maps and even navigate by the stars. It seems idiotic to think that the police would not teach the old style just so the knowledge is not lost.
      • Because Cocteau is behaviorally engineering the entire society to be completely without violence, aggression, or conflict. Navigating by the stars doesn't involve chokeholds, yelling, or arguing, all things that the "old" way of police work might occasionally require. Cocteau doesn't just want to make things he considers "bad" illegal, he wants to make it so that no one would even consider doing them for any reason... thus why peoples' reaction to the mention of things like salt and kissing isn't just "You can't do that, sorry" but "Oh god, that's disgusting!" Cocteau allowing even part of the society to consider violence and confrontation as necessary would get in the way of that kind of engineering. In any event, there's obviously at least some vague traces of them lingering about... at least one of the cops facing Phoenix puts up his dukes and tries to hit him, even if he doesn't succeed.
      • This could probably only have been the cop imitating Phoenix in a blink and you'll miss it moment. Right after Phoenix puts his fists up followed by the cop and then throws a punch right after Phoenix uses a mock one.
      • Nope. The cop puts up his dukes first, then Phoenix copies and mocks him.
    Phoenix's retraining 
  • 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 occurred 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."
      • Also, given Cocteau's age, he should have been an adult at the time John Spartan was cryo-frozen, and so he lived through the Crapsack World before creating this "utopia". So while he may have a distaste for violence, it's implausible that he's so totally unaware of how it works.
      • Not necessarily. It's quite possible to know the exact mechanics of how to do something but to find the idea so utterly against everything you are (or at least consider yourself to be) that you reject the very concept. Practically every human alive is knowledgeable of the purely mechanical aspect of how to kill their loved ones... ask them to come up with a well-thought-out plan for doing so complete with body disposal and eliminating evidence and most would probably have a hard time. Thus while Cocteau existed during a time where violence reined, that doesn't mean he's capable of using it effectively himself, due to inexperience or simple emotional contradictions.
    • Phoenix explicitly states none of the requested assistants are murderers. Cocteau probably had trouble understanding a person not convicted for murder might be a murderer after all (as was the case, according to Phoenix during the gang meeting) or capable of murder. So he saw no point in making this kind of adjustment, especially since it would have meant a delay.
    The Three Seashells. What are they for? 
  • 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."
    • Stallone says this question comes up a lot from action fans. While doing press for Expendables 2 he said that the three seashells was built backwards from Spartan going on a profanity laced tirade to get toilet paper from the machine. The three seashells were thrown in to explain the joke.
    • Spartan could be taught how to knit in cryosleep, but nobody bothered to tell him how to use the bathroom when he woke up?
      • It probably just didn't occur to them that he wouldn't know until after he brought it up. Proper bathroom procedure is something most people don't really think about. Truth in Television: A few years ago I remember reading a news report about an American university that had gone to great expense to put up instructional signs in every bathroom showing people how to sit on a toilet. Seems ridiculous on the surface, but the reason they did it was they had just had a sudden influx of foreign students from countries where "squat" toilets are the norm. Most of these students had never seen a sit-down toilet before and they honestly had no idea how to use it. This resulted in several embarrassing messes until the university figured out what the problem was and installed the signs.
    • Everyone here is assuming that all three shells are used and/or have some relevance to the process - I propose that the shells are nothing more than standardized decoration on the lid and the actual guts of the machine is kept underneath which Spartan couldn't work out how to activate. I'm picturing a fancy bidet that is capable of spraying your butt absolutely clean with some kind of disinfectant.
      • I always figured it was something like that myself. Like maybe the seashells are really touch sensors that you have to press in a certain order to clean yourself up, depending on what excretory function you just engaged in. I mean, even if you accept the idea that it’s based on the way ancient Romans used broken pottery, that only accounts for post-defecation clean-up, and only then if the excrement is of a somewhat normal consistency. Metal seashells intended for use to scrape yourself clean don’t precisely work for cleansing after urination by either men or women, and that doesn’t even take into account the need to clean up in connection with diarrhea or menstruation, or the dermatological irritation that can result from fecal residue not being completely cleaned away. And the shells seem to be too large for physical use on babies or children. So the entire system almost has to be more complex, and with all of the other advancements demonstrated San Angelean society, a touch-coded bidet system seems far more plausible than “use the shells to scrape yourself clean”.
    • Ignoring the fact that it's a throwaway joke, it could be as simple as three separate scrapings and rinses in the bowl. The Romans cleaned themselves with broken pottery edges and might have used shells.
    • I've always been a fan of the idea that the seashells use super sonic technology in order to assist the user in evacuating their bowels.
    • Which makes no sense given the context of the movie, and still doesn't answer the question of how they replace toilet paper in function.
    Technology advances 
  • 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.
      • Well yeah, because they're not safe. Making a car that auto-parks itself is one thing. Making a car that auto-navigates freeway traffic at 60-70+ miles per hour without causing a twenty car pileup is an entirely different beast. If the cars were on tracks I could see this working. But I saw no tracks in the movie, so I'm calling BS.
      • They totally are safe - as of 2012, Audi have sent an autonomous car around a race track at racing speeds, and various other manufacturers have tested autonomous cars in simulated traffic situations, including Volvo and Mercedes-Benz, with a number of other manufacturers having them in the pipeline. General consensus seems to be that they'll be on our roads by 2020. So self-drive cars in the movie? Not only definitely plausible but also looking very likely. Only tech in the movie that exceeds likelihood is the cryo-prisons, everything else is either plausible or (in the vast majority of cases) already exists.
      • Auto-zipping around a racetrack is not the same thing as auto-navigating through freeway traffic (at freeway speeds) with a dozen other cars around, each of which is also trying to navigate through the same freeway traffic. So, no, not totally safe.
      • Actually, several free road tests have now been performed with the self-driving Google cars and they have performed admirably. The only reason why they aren't on the open market yet apart from the price is that more research is still needed on how well they work when there are thousands on the move simultaneously in the same general region. They also sometimes get confused by snow.
      • To be entirely fair (and also, admittedly, a little pedantic), a car which no one knows how it will work when amongst thousands of other similar cars and which also "gets confused" by snow is not exactly a textbook example of "totally 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.
      • Assuming a telephone is the right comparison. A ham radio can contact orbiting spacecraft (this has been done dozens of times during both the Shuttle and ISS programs). There are handheld ham rigs now; plausible advances in electronics could render a device about the size of the Trek communicator capable of covering the 200-400 miles to low Earth orbit.
  • 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.
      • A better question is where did they get the beer? (Spartan orders one with his burger.)
      • Beer is actually a hell of a lot more believable. Home brewing is easier than raising cows.
    Constitutional amendments 
  • 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.
      • Probably amendments that were proposed in the 1800's that finally got ratified.
    • If there's been that many, presumably one of the first was an amendment that made it much easier to amend the Constitution.
    • Some of the amendments may have been to repeal earlier amendments, like the 21st amendment repealed the 18th amendment (prohibition).
    The "Armour Hot Dogs" jingle in 2032 
  • 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.
    • The younger generation probably aren't even aware that hot dogs ever were made out of meat.
    • There are dozens of real-life songs that became real popular because of people only cared for a catchy tune and don't really listen to the actual lyrics. No better example than Abba, the band pretty much is known for making "happy songs", when in fact many of them tell pretty sad stories about betrayal, loneliness, and depression.
    Glow rods 
  • 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.
    Magical ammo acquisition 
  • 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.
      • Clearly not very secure glass, given that modern-day plate glass found in shop fronts can be made to be stronger than that!
    The rest of the world in 2032 
  • 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 implies that things are much less restricted on the opposite coast, at the very least.
    • Perhaps the United States was balkanised as society broke down and San Angeles is a city state?
    • Wouldn't the malcontents have simply fled to those less restrictive places then? I realise there can be problems there as well, but they're starving in LA.
    • You assume things are better or less restrictive outside of San Angeles. San Angeles can be prissy and has an authoritarianism problem, but if it's a functional community and even in the slums there's some access to food. But if the nearest place outside of San Angeles is a war-blasted hellhole with no supplies or civilisation whatsoever, or a fascist warlord state which executes refugees on sight, that's not much of an improvement.
    Phoenix's escape 
  • 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.
    Friendly's rebel army 
  • 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 in real life, due to the drug cartels' activities, 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.
    • Not to mention not having the resources to move, or any prospect of a brighter future. If you're just going to end up in a slum or a refugee camp anyway, why leave if there's no net improvement?
    Cocteau's decision to hire Phoenix 
  • I may have missed something, but why didn't Cocteau just get an assassin instead of Phoenix? If he wanted Edgar Friendly dead he could have gotten someone who would listen to him? Did they not have anyone in cryostasis who would follow instructions if they were paid? It seems massively stupid to get someone who was crazy, make him crazier, more powerful, and then release him?
    • He may have been gearing up for another round of power-grabbing/civil rights reductions by creating a problem illustrating that the San Angeles government didn't have a powerful enough police force and/or a tight enough hold on its citizens. It's also possible (and probable) that he was simply blinded by his hatred for Edgar Friendly to the point where he was unwilling to settle for anything less than overkill.
      • ^Exactly. Cocteau was trying to kill two birds with one stone: 1) Eliminate Edgar Friendly, and 2) inject a little chaos into his utopian society so he could justify another power grab. Cocteau figured Phoenix could accomplish both those goals at once. The hitch in his plan is that Cocteau didn't really understand Phoenix. Because he comes from (as one troper on this page amusingly put it) a hippie idiot future full of hippie idiots, he views "violent" people as little more than trained attack dogs. He can't comprehend that someone like Phoenix (or someone like Spartan for that matter) could be both capable of violence and intelligent in their own right.
    • For all his power, scheming and posturing, Cocteau is horribly clueless about the way real criminals act. He simply didn't understand Evil Is Not a Toy.
  • Why did Cocteau think to program Phoenix to speak Spanish? Was he trying to troll the Warden when Phoenix broke out of the Cryoprison?
    • Where's it said the Spanish was part of the programming? Maybe he just spoke it anyway — there's a lot of Spanish-speaking people in the American southwest.
  • What was Cocteau planning to do with Phoenix after he eliminated Edgar Friendly? It's not as if he could control him easily. His plan seems to be just turn him loose.
    • He was either thinking he'd keep him around as a sort of attack dog or put him back into cryostasis. Perhaps a mix of both, just occasionally thawing Phoenix out when he needed to use him for some purpose like eliminating a rogue element or stirring things up for propaganda. He thought he had way more control over Phoenix than he did, likely in part due to the fact that his social engineering has turned the society into a minor cult of personality with him at its head.
    The police decision to unfreeze Spartan 
  • By the same token as Cocteau's decision to recruit Phoenix to assassinate Friendly, why would the SAPD wake up Spartan? Does the FBI no longer exist? San Angeles doesn't even cover all of California, much less the entire country—why not bring in the CHP/state police/whatever successor organization exists? Or even ask the cops up in San Francisco for help? This part of the plot only works if no other law enforcement agencies anywhere in the United States are capable of handling someone like Phoenix.
    • Perhaps they aren't. Perhaps they don't even exist anymore. We're never given much information about the outside world.
    • Or they simply wanted to handle it with one of their own, and not have to rely on outside agencies (and owe them favors).
    • Zachary Lamb pretty much says it outright when explaining how Phoenix was originally caught: in 1996, the LAPD, CHP, FBI, Americas Most Wanted and satellite surveillance couldn't stop Phoenix. Only Spartan could. So they jump right to that option.
    • We don't really know anything about the world outside San Angeles at all but it's possible, probable even that the same programs that make San Angeles super safe have been employed country wide or even globally. I didn't get the impression from Edgar Friendly that he was fighting for San Angeles because it was particularly special to him. By which I mean that I don't think move to Eagleland/Texas was an option if he wanted to eat a burger, crack open a beer and have sex with a beautiful woman. If the entire world or at least the whole US was similar, all those crime fighting units may be similarly inadequate, and as the above Troper noted, even during their prime they couldn't stop Phoenix— and nobody is near their prime today.
    • Presumably Cocteau was quietly keeping an eye on the police, so he could have hinted that Spartan was a better option than calling in outsiders. After all, if the FBI isn't incompetent in his time, and that's assuming they even still exist, their agents might actually catch wise to what he's planning. Spartan doesn't have much credibility as an accuser even if he does figure it out, being an antique barbarian and all.
    Nude "wrong number" call 
  • The nude wrong number video call Spartan gets. These people believe physical sex is dirty, but this girl doesn't mind making a video call in the buff?
    • They believe fluid transfer is dirty, that doesn't necessarily mean that nudity is stigmatized.
      • Which makes perfect sense. Phone sex is no more dangerous than cybersex and cybersex is frowned on (to the extent that it is) in modern society because it's what 'losers' who can't get real sex do. Not because you might get an STD or pregnant.
      • Take The Naked Sun, for example. Not just physical contact; physical presence of another person is considered Squick bordering on Nightmare Fuel, but someone insisting on people video calling him while dressed is about the same as a person insisting on his family only leaving the home with a necktie on. Everyone is "what's this gotta do with it".
    • There also seems to be a bit of a Free-Love Future in play. With sex only taking place through VR, a lot of the bonds, commitments, and risks are gone, and the woman who accidentally calls Spartan doesn't seem particularly embarrassed about it (no more embarrassed than anyone would be by a wrong number). So why not show off some for someone else?
    • Mind you, we don't know whom she called. She might have wanted to invite her BFF for a shopping spree for all we know.
      • Judging from her lines and what she starts saying I highly doubt it's a BFF she is calling.
    • I think it shows there are more people not following the Law than Cocteau thinks, I mean, dude is pretty delusional anyway, if he thinks every single person does every little thing he outlines, if they did, the Scraps wouldn't exist.
  • How does San Angeles protect itself from pirates? With no armed security, pirates could simply sail to the place and conduct a longshore raid with no resistance.
    • If the rest of the world has transitioned into the same utopian society that San Angeles is, piracy might no longer exist.
    • Or Cocteau allows a very small cadre of people to be trained in violence as a coast guard... but they're never allowed to set foot on land or call home again. It's the exact sort of callously "necessary" thing he'd come up with.
    • Ninjas.
    The automatic fine-dispensing Verbal Morality Statute machines 
  • We all know about the Verbal Morality Statute, that fines you if you curse. But what if you have Tourette's Syndrome of the Obscenities kind? Would you still get fined a credit?
    • Two schools of thought on the matter. First of all the more logical one. It has been established that in order to have procreation, fluids must be screened and sterilized. What does it have to do with the question? If procreation is being controlled by a lab in San Angeles and mental rehab is also a factor. Odds are they might have had a cure for tourettes. The second more mundane one would be that those that suffer from Tourettes get a discount on the fine. Which is still logical since the credit amount is changed depending on the swearing party: notice, Huxley gets fined half a credit for swearing in the station, whilst Spartan gets 1 credit and, Phoenix gets one credit on his first offense and, on his second offense gets a one credit fine and an automatic police response.
    • Huxley actually got a half credit fine for a Soto voco/soft voice violation, as she muttered the word. Had she said louder, she'd have been fined a full credit.
      • Remember that the San Angeles Utopia turns out to be a dystopia controlled by an "Evil Mister Rogers". Procreation is done in a lab. The doctors don't have to have a cure for Tourette's; just an early way to identify it (or markers that may possibly raise the risk of it) and an unfortunate pregnancy failure that was unquestionably a natural miscarriage and definitely not an abortion, because abortions are illegal, you see. Here, let's run this test. Honey, we're going to give you a special shot to make everything better. Oh dear, you are having a medical event. Never fear; we will handle it properly.
    • Beyond all that, Tourette Syndrome is fairly uncommon. Only about half a percent of people are diagnosed as children and most of those are fairly mild symptoms. There are an estimated 200,000 people with moderate to severe Tourette's. Of those, less than ten percent exhibit coprolalia - involuntarily swearing. With a sample size that small, it's not likely to be that big of a problem anyway.
    Social collapse 
  • I get that the moral of the story is basically about going too far, but... well, the old ways DID cause World War 3, its kind of hard to argue for social collapse just because you want to eat burgers and smoke. Is it really fair to advocate for a return to virtual anarchy just because you want to behave like a violent, slovenly jackass? The future world isnt fun, but atleast its not in the middle of a warzone anymore.
    • The movie's hardly arguing for social collapse, though. It clearly makes the case that anarchic-warzone Los Angeles isn't any more fun than overly-squeamish San Angeles, but it's not like the only two options are "unrestrained chaotic anarchy" or "squeamish over-restrictive morality policing". There's a middle ground to be found. I doubt the social collapse was caused by people eating the occasional burger and smoking an occasional cigarette.
      • The voice of reason himself says this. John Spartan: "Whoa! I'll tell you what you're gonna' do: [turns to Earle] Why don't you get a little dirty... (turns to scraps) ...and you, a lot clean. And somewhere in the middle... I don't know, you'll figure it out".
    The cryoprison 
  • Could the anarchic war zone nature of 1990s!!Los Angeles have been what led to the Cryoprison being built?
    Where's the military in 1996? 
  • I say this in light of the riots that have happened in Baltimore and Ferguson. But just looking at what is visible of 1996 Los Angeles, especially the establishing shot that shows the Hollywood Sign on fire and multi-block areas in the distance burning and the constant sound of gunfire in the distance, I'm reminded of the images from those real riots of stores being set afire and whatnot. In those riots, the National Guard had to be deployed to handle the protestors. I have to ask: wouldn't the government even attempt to declare martial law on Los Angeles and send in either the National Guard or the Army in an attempt to shut down Phoenix and other criminal elements? Or was the anarchy so bad that even sending in the military wasn't enough? I honestly don't know.
    • I think the clear implication is that the military is just as overwhelmed by the breakdown of society as everyone else is, and probably has its hands full.
    The images in the Hall of Violence 
  • When Phoenix is entering the Hall of Violence looking for the guns in the museum, he passes by a number of images depicting "a typical street scene" in anarchical 1990s Los Angeles. What are those images depicting in real life? I think one or two of them are images taken during the 1992 riots that followed the not-guilty verdict on the officers who beat up Rodney King, but it's hard to tell. Any thoughts?
    • I think this is The Theme Park Version. Propaganda to show what the world would be like without Cocteau's society to keep people from going back to the old ways, basically scaring them into doing things his way.
    • Exactly. It's like showing pictures of people with advanced stages of smallpox and polio and saying "And this is what the world was like before we learned decent medicine," completely glossing over the millions of people who lived at the same time and didn't suffer those afflictions. Picking the worst bits from a single part of history and saying "this is what it was like everywhere, all the time, until this happened" is a time-honored tradition among bad armchair historians and propaganda specialists.
    So when Los Angeles was hit by the "Big One" of 2010, was it buried by the shifting Earth or did it simply destroy a lot of buildings? 
  • I say this as it looks like some real buildings still exist in 2032 San Angeles, like the Los Angeles Convention Center.
    • The implication seems to be that the ground cracked open and sections of the city actually did drop into the underground, yes. The "Big One" seems to have been major enough for that.
    Euthanasia in San Angeles? 
  • Garcia calls murders which Phoenix committed "non-sanctioned terminations". That remark got me thinking-so does this mean there are sanctioned terminations? We know the society is totally against violence and killing, but perhaps they might make an exception in regards to euthanasia? Or it might be something else. Any idea what to make of this?
    • Almost certainly there are sanctioned terminations. Remember that a large part of Cocteau's plan for socially engineering San Angeles is that they need to unquestioningly believe in him and what he's doing. (Note how Lenina Huxley, despite being perfectly aware of what a monster he is at that point, is extremely upset at his death and laments about how their society might not be able to continue.) A major part of him establishing that sort of god-like control over people would be him being able to determine who lives and who dies. Even if execution isn't technically legal (because remember you can get an eternal sentence to cryoprison which is effectively execution just not as humane), then he would want to make compassionate euthanasia legal... but only if the person in question applied for and obtained permission or a license (AKA his blessing).


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