Mr. Roboto

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Mr. Roboto is a song performed by the band Styx and was released on their 1983 album Kilroy Was Here. The song was written by Dennis DeYoung.

The song follows the futuristic and fictional story of Kilroy, a rock performer who escapes a prison by hiding inside the shell of a robot called the Roboto. Much of the song was influenced by the growth of technology and computers in the 1980s, making several references to computers and computer-related terms.

Contents

Lyrics

(Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Mata ahoo Hima de
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Himitsu wo Shiri tai
[1]

You're wondering who I am
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

Machine or mannequin
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

With parts made in Japan
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

I am the Modern Man

I've got a secret
I've been hiding
Under my skin

My heart is human
My blood is boiling
My brain IBM

So if you see me
Acting strangely
Don't be surprised

I'm just a man who
Needed someone
And somewhere to hide
To keep me alive
Just keep me alive

Somewhere to hide
To keep me alive

I'm not a robot
Without emotions
I'm not what you see

I've come to help you
With your problems
So we can be free

I'm not a Hero
I'm not a Savior
Forget what you know

I'm just a man who's
Circumstances went beyond his control
Beyond my control,
We all need control

I need control
We all need control

I am the Modern Man
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

Who hides behind a mask
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

So no one else can see
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

My true identity

Domo arigato, Mr, Roboto
Domo (Domo), Domo (Domo)
Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto
Domo (Domo), Domo (Domo)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
(Thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
For doing the jobs that nobody wants to)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
(And thank you very much oh Mr. Roboto
For helping me escape just when I needed to)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
(Thank you, thank you, thank you)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
(I wanna thank you)
Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto
(Please thank you)

Oh! Oh-ah-oh!

The problem's plain to see
Too much technology
Machines to save our lives
Machines de-humanize

The time has come at last
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

To throw away this mask
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

Now everyone can see
(Secret secret, I've got a secret)

My true identity...

I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy...

Tropes

Machine vs. Human Labor

For the majority of the song, the character, Kilroy, is thanking the Roboto for helping him to escape the prison. Without knowing about the background story to the song, the lyrics make out Kilroy to be a cyborg that serves to help humans: "I've come to help you/ With your problems/ So we can be free..." This supports the theme that machine labor serves to help better the lives of humans by freeing them of certain tasks in work.

However, halfway through the song, the tone shifts and the character Kilroy suggests that his initial problem and imprisonment was a result of technology and the conformist ideologies that relate to it. This claim suggests that machine labor dehumanizes the workforce.

View of Machines

Ironically, though machines are usually viewed as tools, limited in their scope (even humanoid machines, for that matter), Kilroy finds an extreme degree of freedom by disguising himself as one. A supposed automaton containing a willful sentient intelligence is a potentially dangerous entity, difficult to detect. There is a close parallel to "Neuromancer", in that Wintermute and Neuromancer are seen as mere tools, A.I.s with strict safeguards in place. However, just like Kilroy, they are more important than they appear.

Technology vs. Humanity

This song certainly seems to take the view that humanity and technology are directly opposed. The specific lyric that states the problem with technological integration says, "The problem's plain to see/Too much technology/Machines to save our lives/Machines dehumanize". In an age where humanoid cybernetic beings roam free, the question of what constitutes true humanity is raised.

Relation to Readings

Schismatrix

In Kilroy's world, a government with no concrete limits to power seeks to imprison rock-and-roll stars without trial. This is much like the "government" in Schismatrix, which maintains a static ideology in order to preserve the existing social and ecological order. Just as Lindsay experiences enmity for the static government, Kilroy feels disdain for any government which would dare imprison rock-and-roll.

Relations to other Media

WALL-E

"The problem's plain to see
Too much technology
Machines to save our lives
Machines de-humanize "

This phrase from the song Mr. Roboto, brings to mind, the Pixar movie WALL-E. The problem with the civilation on the space ship, was the there was simply too much technology. The people that lived on the ship, became too reliant on technology to feed them, bathe them, entertain them, and even get them for place to place. The people barely had to lift a finger to get through life and through the day. This reliance on machines forced the people to get further and further away from the form that they once were in. These people de-humanized from active humans, to mere couch potatos. It took an old obsolete machine (WALL-E) to save their lives, and help these people achieve their full potential.  


References

  1. http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/mr-roboto-lyrics-styx/bb8deef99d2bdba24825693a002ab9ff
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