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Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by Mellow_Harsher

Mr. Roboto song meanings
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  • +7
    General CommentI suspect there is more to it than meets the eye. Writers tend to base their work off of personal experience. They will modify the circumstances to fit a storyline.

    My theory is that Mr.Roboto is actually based on identity issues.

    Mr. Roboto is the Alter ego
    Kilroy is the true inner self

    The song is between Mr. Roboto and Killroy. This is likely a moment of self-awareness by Kilroy.

    "You're wondering who I am-machine or mannequin"
    He is displaying his alter ego here. Mr. Roboto is perceived as cold and uncaring.

    "With parts made in Japan, I am the modren man"
    Parts made in Japan is used for story continuity. Modren likely is a play on the word modern. His alter ego is common amongst modern men to this day.

    "I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin"
    Mr.Roboto is telling us that he is in fact an alter ego, not the persons real self.

    "My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M."
    Here he is telling us that while he has feelings, his mind has full control over them. Kilroy is the flesh and blood of man, Mr. Roboto dwells within the more logical brain.

    "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"
    Kilroy is explaining Mr. Roboto is a defense mechanism. Though he admits from time to time he gets caught off guard and lets his true feelings show.

    "I'm not a robot without emotions-I'm not what you see"
    Further establishing that his alter ego is not the true man.

    "I've come to help you with your problems, so we can be free
    I'm not a hero, I'm not a saviour, forget what you know"
    Mr. Roboto is explaining his function. It is thankless, but important. Not "we" is used, they rely on each other as they are one in the same.

    "I'm just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control
    Beyond my control-we all need control
    I need control-we all need control"
    Kilroy is here explaining his reasoning for developing Mr. Roboto. It saves him from having to deal with emotional issues. He is able to manipulate his perception. This gives him control of the world as it exists in his mind.

    "I am the modren man, who hides behind a mask
    So no one else can see my true identity"
    Repeating what he has been saying all along, He is a modern man hiding behind an alter ego and he rarely if ever lets anyone see who he really is.

    "Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
    For doing the jobs that nobody wants to
    And thank you very much, Mr. Roboto
    For helping me escape just when I needed to
    Thank you-thank you, thank you
    I want to thank you, please, thank you"
    Here he is expressing thanks to his alter ego for dealing with the emotional times in his life. Helping Kilroy "escape" from the emotionally trying times. It is the context of a parting of ways, a "goodbye".

    "The problem's plain to see: too much technology
    Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanize."
    This could simply be part of the story, or is a comment that seems to be a bigger issue today than in 1983, the idea that we are desensitized by the machines and technologies that surround us. It is a double edged sword as technologies are also able to preserve life.

    "The time has come at last
    To throw away this mask
    So everyone can see
    My true identity...
    I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!"

    Here he is saying he wants to do away with his alter ego, Mr. Roboto and be his true self.
    jimshineon January 20, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentActually, I read on a page that discussed the meanings of the Styx lyrics, that this was part of a story. The story was on the album "Kilroy was here". The entire album was a protest to censorship and the anti-rock movement. It told of a story between an evil person who tried to prohibit all rock, and Kilroy a rock star. It is quite interesting, though I can't seem to find the page right now, as soon as I do, I will post it.
    andy86on May 21, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentInterpretation

    [From the album liner notes:]

    The Past
    Dr. Everett Righteous, founder and leader of the MMM, (The Majority for Musical Morality) became influential in American politics through the use of his own cable T.V. network. He spoke about the evils of rock 'n' roll music, and how its permissive attitudes were responsible for the moral and economic decline of America. He was charismatic, entertaining, and above all, he understood the media. The MMM soon gained enough power to have rock 'n' roll banned.

    Rober Orin Charles Kilroy was a world famous rock 'n' roll star. As this new law was passed, Kilroy and his band were finishing a national tour. Their last performance, at the Paradise Theatre, would serve as the test case. On the night of the concert, as Kilroy played to a packed house, the MMM marched in and stormed the stage. When it was over, a MMM protester was dead...Kilroy was convicted of murder and sent to a prison ship with other rock 'n' roll mistfits...

    The Present a future where Japanese manufactured robots, designed to work cheaply and endlessley, are the caretakers of society. "Mr. Robotos" are everywhere, serving as manual labor in jobs that were once held by humans.

    Dr. Righteous enforces his own morality by holding nightly rallies where crowds hurl rock 'n' roll records and electric guitars into huge bonfires...Jonathan Chance, the rebel leader of an underground movement to bring back rock 'n' roll, has made Kilroy the symbol of his cause. Meanwhile, Kilroy has spent a number of years in prison. With no hope of release, he is subjected to the humiliation of mind control via the MMM cable network. In an attempt to contact Kilroy, Jonathan jams the airwaves of the MM network, replacing a mind control session with outlawed footage of a Kilroy concert. Inspired by Jonathan's message, Kilroy plots his escape. Late one night, he makes a daring attept to free himself by overpowering a Roboto guard. Disguised as a Roboto Kilroy moves freely throughout the city leaving graffiti coded messages for Jonathan. Jonathan discovers the "Rock Code" which leads him to the old Paradise Theatre, now the site of Dr. Righteous' Museum of Rock Pathology. There he sees the last Kilroy concert mechanically depicted by Kilroy look-alike robots as the violent end of rock 'n' roll...and there, he and Kilroy meet for the first time.

    This song tells of Kilroy's escape from prison disguised as a Roboto. It exposes the thoughts in Kilroy's mind during his escape, as he reflects on the irony of his circumstances.
    kmk_natashaon February 11, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentHere is a translation of the Japanese:

    Doomo arigato, Mr. Roboto [Thank you very much, Mr. Robot]

    Mata au hi made [Until the day we meet again...]

    Himitsu wo shiritai [I want to know your/the secret]
    sockoon November 08, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA Comment About the Word "MODREN"

    The movie "Westworld" was released in 1973.
    Mr. Roboto was recorded by Styx in 1982.

    Westworld was a movie about a futuristic, adult-themed amusement park, populated by extremely lifelike robots, where you could live out your fantasies, by role playing amongst these robots. In the movie, they bounced between a "Medieval World" (Western European life during Medieval times), a "Roman World" (life in Rome during the Roman Empire), and Westworld (life in in the Old West of the United States). Although very lifelike, the robots weren't entirely perfect. The robots are programmed not to hurt any of the vacationers, but by the end of the movie, all the robots are malfunctioning and killing everyone.

    The tagline from the movie was "Westworld...where nothing can possibly go worng!" (Note, the word "wrong" is misspelled "worng".)

    The word "modern" in Mr. Roboto is deliberately misspelled "modren" as a tip of the hat to the movie Westworld. It also hints that our alter-egos, although employed to shield the inner-self, are still fallible and subject to malfunction.
    Schlermieon May 05, 2016   Link
  • 0
    General CommentWhat the hell does Kilroy mean in this song? OR does it even have any significance?
    moondawgon December 03, 2001   Link
  • 0
    General CommentKilroy was a man who scribed his name on boxes during WWII, writing on all of them, "Kilroy was here." He made his impact on the world and influanced many Americans increasing nationalism and, on the all, helping the whole nation, even though no one knew who he was... I can see, quite plainly, how that relates...
    Elebasteron February 25, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhy does he say modren?
    realplastictreeson April 26, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General Commentalthough your story about kilroy may be true it isnt relevant here. Kilroy was here was a common grafitti well known when styx first started and it was the original name of the band.
    REDRUM158on May 15, 2002   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst off, to the best of my knowledge, Styx was always named Styx. Second, the WWII Kilroy Was Here part may or may not be significant to the song. Kilroy Was Here was a concept album, and tells a story. It's about censorship, and a man named Kilroy, who was a rock artist, portrayed by Dennis DeYoung. He was imprisoned by the MMM (Majority for Musical Morality), because he was a rock artist. At his last performance, a murder was staged, and the MMM believed that Kilroy killed an MMM protestor. However, it turned out that a member of the MMM had killed them. To get back on track, this song is about Kilroy's escape. He finds a roboto suit -- robots who are officers of the MMM -- and uses it to escape. "The problem's plain to see -- too much technology / Machines to save our lives. Machines dehumanise" shows that the robotos, who are taking over the manual labour tasks of humans as well, are forcing humans to become something they aren't. The fanfiction based on the story is called "Whispers in the Night", and you should be able to find it on most any search engine.
    sexwithoutfuryon June 12, 2002   Link

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