by David C. Hoke
I grew up loving Star Wars. Having the pleasure of having been born in 1976, I saw Star Wars (A New Hope) at the earliest of possible ages. One year old, to be exact. Well, one and some months. Of course, I do not remember seeing it at age one, but it's a real memory for me. We saw it so many times it became a part of my childhood, much like any other memory.
I am a child of the late '70s and early 80's period of complete cultural renewal—The Star Wars trilogy, The Indiana Jones movies, ET, and Jaws. Lucas and Spielberg were gods. But there were also many other great movies we would grab onto as kids—Rocky, Rambo, Red Dawn, Alien, Aliens, Die Hard, Back to the Future, Predator, and Star Trek II.
In my home, we would have to wait and see most R-rated movies on TV. And when I say "On TV," this is when you only had three networks and sometimes PBS. When showing these movies (when they finally got to TV), all these channels watered them down. There were no F-bombs, no excessive blood, no sex, no fun.
We were lucky enough to have a tall antenna and live in the country where we could get an independent channel out of Dallas that showed classic sitcoms and monster movies all day during the summer. So here I am, a kid in the late '70s to mid-'80s, soaking up all this great content via video discs, VHS, or edited showings on television. Meanwhile, I am gorging on Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers, and He-Man toys. Keep in mind the most influential comic book of the time was X-Men, which was HUGE. Keep in mind music videos and MTV were a thing, and Madonna, Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and more were making these fantastic short films put to music.
Generation X is soaking this stuff up. I was born at the right time for once. But what happens while I play, watch, and live these fantasies? I wanted to join in on the fun. Like thousands of my generation, we wanted to make our own stories and movies. We wanted to be a part of this revolution.
I was the youngest of all my family—the youngest in my own family and the youngest among the first cousins on my mom's side. The youngest amongst all the kids I grew up with regularly. This meant I was often left out of most things and by myself—a lot. Everyone else had already moved on by the time I was old enough to do more things. (I learned to become my own best friend out of necessity.)
So, one day in 1987, my brother got to go to the movies. I don't remember what he got to see. I only remember he got to go. I was jealous and wanted to go to the movies too.
My dad felt sorry for me, which I am not sure he often did. He let me pick the movie. I looked at the newspaper to find the movie times listed and see what was out. This place in time was well before phone apps let you buy tickets in a few clicks. Coordinating a trip to the movies was equivalent to navigating a submarine through a deep ocean trench.
I scanned the showtimes, found one I thought looked neat from the pictures, picked it, and we went to the movies. I guess we got there too early because we waited a long time. I even stepped out to ensure we were in the correct theater at my dad's command. We were. I guess I looked at the time wrong.
It finally started. For some reason, there were no previews. The lights had barely even dimmed. Boom, the movie started. An assault of music and sharp graphics hit me. The movie starts with a fake news report from a nonspecific time frame. Old Detroit has issues. Before we know it, we’re in a boardroom meeting to discuss crime prevention. A big giant robot walks in within moments.
Okay, so remember, I'm ten years old. I'm not paying attention to the boring talking stuff going right over my head. I want to see cool stuff—robots, car chases, explosions. You get the idea. So, I'm eating popcorn and enduring the boring stuff until the cool stuff happens. But little did I know my life was about to change forever. In the boardroom demonstration, this yuppy in a suit drops a gun on the floor. The giant robot takes an authoritative step toward him and growls.
Say what? The movie has my attention. I can tell my dad got tense.
The growl and the footstep seared into my brain, even to this day. Then the robot starts counting down. The man tries to flee—the robot doggedly tracks him with its guns. People shove the hapless bastard away from themselves. The robot keeps counting down.
The guns on the robot go off. Giant balls of fire erupt. The man is hit, and chunks of red meat go flying. Bloody mist fills the air. He is gyrated violently by the stunning blasts from the cannons.
For some reason, this moment froze in time for me. I remember seeing every frame of the scene while looking at my dad and seeing his reactions simultaneously. You must understand this—my parents were fundamentalist Christians. My father was also an absolute psychotic asshole. He abused all of us mentally and some of us physically. I didn't get too much of the physical stuff. But he would pretend to be this perfect little angel when the moments suited him. He would probably be diagnosed as bipolar and need medication in today's world.
He was easily affected by movies. Seeing this absolute blast of violence on the screen, he covered his mouth. He overreacted and rocked back and forth. He was big, easily over 6 feet and over 300 pounds, so these motions were not small. He was so horrified by seeing this giant robot butchering the corporate yuppie he let out sounds of grunting and anguish.
I knew in that moment I was witnessing a perfect storm. This movie was what I had been waiting for, and I didn't even know what was hitting me. This movie is where the fantasy of my childhood would meet my arriving adolescence. This movie is where the imagination of Star Wars could meet the R-rated world so greatly tempting my sensibilities.
My dad had no idea Robocop was R-rated before we went, but he fucking knew it now.
This marriage of the wonder of fantasy with the violent themes of more adult entertainment has been my creative driving force ever since. This marriage is what I hope to bring to an audience so they can enjoy that marriage as much as I do.
There is one other thing Robocop did I thought was pure genius, and I wondered why more movies didn't do it—a nondescript time for its story to take place. I usually wince when I see content that says something akin to "The Year 2089" in a title at the movie's beginning.
Robocop had futuristic elements that are still, at the time of this writing, not possible to achieve. But those elements take place right next to gasoline cars, gunpowder, and other contemporary world realities. All the while, no year is mentioned. No timeline to break the fantasy of the story. You see the reality of the movie in Old Detroit of Robocop.
I tell you this story, and I publicly admire these elements of Robocop for entirely selfish reasons—I want to frame Mirov (Muh-rahv) for you, the reader, correctly.
Mirov is a fantasy married with the blood and guts of adult-targeted entertainment. Mirov takes place in a non-designated time in human history where gunpowder and AI are contemporaries with hypersonic speeds and traditional water toilets. We colonize Mars while still brewing coffee in a countertop coffee maker.
I want to sweep the stage, put new bulbs in the projector, pop some fresh popcorn, and ensure you have all you need to enjoy this story. And enjoy it the way intended. I thank you for indulging me and this essay, and I thank you for reading Mirov.
If you like it, you can thank the kid that picked Robocop.
If you don't like it, you can blame my dad.