This sample essay on I Robot Essay reveals arguments and important aspects of this topic. Read this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion below.
Study the film I, robot and deconstruct using the key concepts. Look closely at the character played by Will Smith, how does his blackness impact on the audience’s understanding of his role?
I, robot is an action sci-fi film which stars Will Smith as Del Spooner. It is a futuristic view of the world and is set in the year 2035.
This is a very common genre of film for Will Smith, as he has been in many action/ action sci-fi films such as Independence Day (1996), Men in Black (1997) and Enemy of State (1998). However, more recently, he has branched out into different film genres such as Shark Tale (2004) for which he did the voice over for Oscar and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006) which was a drama.
He was born on the 25th September 1968 in Philadelphia.
While at school he gained the nickname ‘Prince’ because of his attitude and knack for getting out of trouble, he later added to this and became the ‘Fresh Prince’. Unusually this and the place he was born would later be the basis of an episodic comedy which he starred in called ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-air’ (1990) which ran for six years, and for which he also won an award for ‘Top TV series’, he was nominated twice for ‘Best performance by an actor’, twice for ‘outstanding lead actor’ and many more.
This was his first major break and lead to his acting career. Overall he has won 28 awards and has been nominated for 49.
I, Robot is not a stereotypical futuristic film, although it was set 31 years in the future, it is still very realistic. There are many normal things which have just been ‘upgraded’ to be futuristic. For example, the yellow police tape which section things off is still in this film, but now they are holograms instead, which subtly shows that this is the future, but it is not extremely advanced, so much so that the film would seem unreal. There is also a ‘holographic projector’ which appears when Will Smith seems to be talking to an old man, but then the camera pans round so that the audience can see that it is simply a holographic image. These things slowly introduce the idea of the future to the audience. There are other objects in this film which do not fit in with the stereotypical view of the future, for example the cars do not hover and there is even a petrol fuelled motorbike.
The clothes they wear in this film are very similar to the clothes we wear today. However some characters such as Calvin are wearing unusual clothes which do set them apart from people of today. For the start of the film she is wearing a shiny silver suit, which many people to associate with the future. However, the people are not outrageously different and advanced; they are still shown to be normal people by anyone’s standards, and although there are robots, a lot of them do ‘normal’ everyday jobs, such as at the start of the film the audience can see two robots as dustmen, a dog walker and there is even a robot postman going door to door.
The film opens with the audience viewing Del Spooner (Will Smith) at home, eating breakfast, having a shower, going through his normal chores and talking to his friend and going round his grandma’s. This gives the audience an insight as to what he is like outside of work, it shows the audience that he is a normal person. This is when you first see his hatred for robots, when he tells his grandma, ‘those robots aren’t going to do anyone any good’ which is then shortly followed by him chasing a robot with a handbag. This then introduces to the audience the fact that he is a police man. We then see him at work in the office, which shows the audience the two sides of his life. However it also soon becomes clear to the audience that he is suffering from ‘survivors guilt’ which influences many of his actions.
Will Smith’s character is a police officer but, just like in Men in Black, he is not a stereotypical one. The stereotypical view of an American police officer is one who is always seen in his uniform, is overweight and is always seen to be drinking coffee and eating doughnuts rather than doing any actual work. However Will Smith’s character does not conform to any of these stereotypes. He is also the only policeman who doesn’t wear a uniform of some sort. In the whole film his character is a sort of ‘black sheep’, he is the only one without a uniform, the only one who believes the robots are no good, and even in his house he has a stereo which is controlled using a remote controller rather than voice recognition. The audience can tell this is obviously not normal for this time because when Calvin goes to his house and tries to figure out how to switch it on and off, she can’t. It is clear that he is not comfortable with the amount of technology around him, as he says to Calvin “I must be, like, a malfunction magnet, because your shit keeps malfunctioning around me.”
As with many of his films, Will Smith, rather than trying to hide it, draws attention to the fact he is black. For example, in Men in Black (in which he is also a police officer) he jumps down off a bridge onto an open top bus and he says “it’s just raining black people in New York”. It is obvious that the fact that Will Smith is black does not hinder his life or his acting and he is completely comfortable with it and it is obvious that he feels the same, in an interview about one of his previous movies he said “it’s not a black movie or a white movie, it’s a movie”1. I do not think that the fact he is black makes any difference to how the audience perceives his character, apart from the irony that he is so prejudice or racist to the robots. This is shown by the fact that he always makes reference to it in most of his films. In I, Robot he says at one point “I mean, you’re a cat, I’m black and I’m not going to be hurt again”. The fact that he can make these comments in a film also implies that his ‘blackness’ does not really matter to the film and is not an important aspect of it. However there is one comment in I, Robot which is more serious than the others and is not said in a comic tone. Will Smith says to Calvin “one look at the skin and we figure we know just what’s underneath”. This could just be referring to just seeing somebody and not really knowing them at all but it is more likely a reference to the fact that he is black and she is white. Will Smith does not stick to films which are primarily for coloured people, in many of his films, the lead could have been played by a person of any race, and in fact his role in Men in Black was originally cast for a white Caucasian male, which just emphasises the fact that the colour of his skin is not a major part of his role.
This film is also very similar to Men in Black in many respects. For example to start with Will Smith is a police officer, and both he and his superior officer are black. In I, Robot Will Smith and Chi McBride (who plays Lt. John Bergin) are the only two black people in almost the entire film, and they are also the only people in authority. In the film the audience do see other police officers but they do not take a real role in the film, so these two men would be the highest ranking out of everyone else in the film. Everyone who is not in authority is white.
This film also follows some of the theories such as Todorov and Propp. The state of equilibrium is that they all live happily with robots, which is disrupted when Dr Laninng dies and they find Sonny the robot. The recognition of the disruption is when Sonny is jailed and is suppose to be decommissioned and the attempts to repair the disruption are when Del Spooner, Calvin and Sonny kill Viki. A new equilibrium is reached when all of the robots are sent off to live away from the humans. It is also easy to see Propp’s theory in I, Robot. The Hero is Del Spooner, the Villain is Viki, the Donor is Sonny and the Helper is Calvin etc. however interestingly there is no romantic plot which does go against Propp’s theory.