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Tag Archives: martyrdom


One might think this movie’s subject matter would be too serious for this blog’s treatment. That comparing this movie to one about a fictional robotic man would be disrespectful to the actual source material. Maybe they’d be right…but then again, who in Hollywood thought it would be a good idea to make a movie about this kind of tragedy when RoboCop already happened back in ’87?

In the case of Fruitvale Station and RoboCop, we have main characters that are unjustly murdered. Both characters are good people with families. We all know Alex Murphy was a good person – he was a noble cop who was trying to bring down the most dangerous gang in Detroit. We also see him being a good father and husband in flashbacks. RoboCop didn’t spend much time on these points as it was busy being an action film with lots of blood and explosions…but maybe the points had already been made.

The problem with Fruitvale is that the movie tries a bit too hard to make the audience feel the force of the tragedy. Obviously, the whole point of the movie is to make people aware of how real a person Oscar was. The thing is, there’s no need to force this point down everyone’s throat. The fact that a regular kid can be shot dead over nothing should speak for itself. They didn’t need to over-set up the fall, or make the subject of the film seem like too great of a person. Once the filmmakers do that, they might push the audience right back out of the movie. As I mentioned before, RoboCop does have scenes where we see Murphy being a great guy, but they don’t take up even a few minutes of the movie’s running time.

There’s a scene that crystallizes this point. Oscar plays with a stray dog who is then struck and killed by a car. This scene was either to show how tender and kind Oscar was, or to establish a metaphor for Oscar’s impending tragic death. Either way, it served no real purpose other than adding on to that, “Hey, the thing at the end of the movie is really going to suck” list.  That list also features entries like the scene where Oscar and his girlfriend trade New Year’s Resolutions, or when Oscar takes the first steps towards quitting the pot business, or when Oscar’s daughter tells him he might get shot, or when Oscar gets a business card from someone he meets on the way to the party…

Sure, show that your character is decent and promising, but don’t jackhammer it into everyone’s head. There weren’t any scenes of Alex Murphy talking to his old cop buddies, saying things like,  “Guys, I’m gonna try to become lieutenant this year, I know I can do it!” or whatever.

Anyway, there were a few attempts to make Oscar seem normal and imperfect. Specifically, there’s a scene in a grocery store where he tries to get his old job back by threatening his ex-boss. This was a good attempt to balance out the martyr-izing of Oscar’s character, but it didn’t feel like enough. He still does things like mutter “I got a daughter,” to his shooter while in shock.

It’s totally possible that something like the above did indeed happen, but after the movie has been obviously pulling the strings the whole time (dog, dog, dog)…it’s hard to believe it wasn’t just another manipulation.

A more disgusting author would use this final line to make a joke about Oscar Grant coming back as a cyborg but