Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was one of the most important satirical genre exercises of 1980s Hollywood action cinema. The film’s dystopian vision of a corporate controlled, war-torn Detroit presented an acerbic and subversive critique of Reagan-era Death Wish and Dirty Harry vigilante screen fantasies. The film was also one of the first major studio releases to parody the excesses and genre tropes of the hyper-action style.
Screenwriter Michael Miner sat down with UCSB Department of Film & Media Studies Professor Joshua Moss to discuss the film’s B-Movie influences, the role of political humor in science fiction, and the economic model of Orion Pictures and other genre picture studios in the 1980s.
Screenwriter Michael Miner
Michael Miner‘s professional career includes time as a director of photography and director/cameraman of ten music videos. As co-writer of Robocop (1987), the iconic action story about the part man/part machine law enforcer of the future, Mr. Miner received the Satrurn Award for Best Science Fiction Screenplay and a nomination for Best Screenplay by the Mystery Writers of America. He is also the co-writer of the pilot for Robocop: The Television Show, produced by Sky TV and Anacondas: The Search For The Blood Orchid, the action adventure sequel about humans battling deadly snakes. His solo writing credits include Lawnmower Man II, the science fiction sequel to the virtual reality story about an idiot savant trapped in a computer program and his debut as a writer/director, Deadly Weapon, a drama about a teenager who finds a prototype Star Wars weapon and uses it to take a desert town hostage. Most recently, he directed The Book of Stars, about the troubled relationship between two sisters and the memory book one of them keeps that has the power to anticipate future events. Mr. Miner discovered the script while teaching a writing class at the Maine Photographic Workshops. He has written screenplays for Oliver Stone, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Douglas. He is developing an erotic thriller situated on the campus of Harvard University, a horror thriller about reincarnation, and two television series, one about juvenile justice in America and the other about the dystopian aspects of digital information. He has taught screenwriting at the Maine Photographic Workshops, the University of Hawaii, the Southeastern Media Institute, the Praxis Center for Screenwriting in Vancouver, the University of California at Santa Barbara, California State University at Los Angeles and in the InsideOut Writers Program for incarcerated juveniles in Los Angeles County.
Moderator Joshua Louis Moss
Joshua Louis Moss is a professor of media studies, humor studies, and screenwriting currently teaching in the Department of Film and Media at University of California, Santa Barbara. He holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. from University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and a B.F.A. in Film and Television Production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. His first academic book, Why Harry Met Sally: The Christian-Jewish Love Story in Popular Media will be published by University of Texas Press in 2017. Moss has worked for a number of studios as a producer and screenwriter and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.
This event is sponsored by the Carsey-Wolf Center and the Department of Film & Media Studies.
The CWC Classics program celebrates cinema’s rich history, bringing classic films back to the big screen for critical viewing and discussion. These events feature filmmakers, academics, and professionals who can contextualize the production and historical impact of the films. The series occasionally presents classic films in their original 16 or 35 mm formats. CWC Classics events celebrate the history and significance of cinema’s enduring legacy.