Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hollywood to New York: Drop Dead

After seeing "I am Legend", I pondered the same question as this New York Times article: Why do filmmakers seem to take such joy in destroying New York City? This seems like the most obvious answer:

James Sanders, the author of “Celluloid Skyline,” about the history of New York in movies, ascribed the resonance of disaster scenes involving New York to the prospects for special-effects shock. “What would be the point of showing a demolished suburban street? You’d get the point but it just wouldn’t have the punch. You take the most familiar, iconic symbol of civic society in the world — a big city, and for Americans, that’s New York — and that’s where disaster is going to be the most powerful.” He added that New York serves as a yardstick — what architects would call a scale — that illustrates the magnitude for a disaster.

(Hat tip to The House Next Door.)

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Blogger EdHeath said...

I saw the movie “Invasion USA” (1985) years ago, and also read reviews of it that back up Sanders’ statement. In “Invasion USA” South American terrorists lead by a Soviet spy invade Florida with the intent of bringing the US to it knees. So they shoot up a couple of teenagers necking on the beach and some Cuba refugees, and then move inland to blow up a house (!), a church (!) and finally a strip mall. Then they run into Chuck Norris who has (a) spinning back kicks (b) Uzis and (c) tanks. I think the tanks are actually superfluous, but anyway the point is that while the movie has cool action scenes, it has zero sense of threat to our way of life. Maybe that’s intentional (Chuck Norris movies that cause stress are probably not worth the price of admission), but it does tend to render the plot (even more) nonsensical.

The shootings at Virginia Tech created a (temporary) national discussion, but 9/11 was the event that created the concept of a national threat level. I don’t want to go too far in saying that 9/11 touched Americans personally, but the panic of Pitt employees streaming out of the Cathedral of Learning that day was undeniable. There was no such city-wide reaction after the Oklahoma City bombing that I remember. In fact, we now snicker at midwestern states getting funding to fight terrorism, despite that bombinb and the fact that 9/11 terrorists trained in Michigan or Minnesota, one of those places

7:26 AM


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