Maybe I'm getting old

I have a small request for America's film-makers. Last night, while innocently watching Project Runway [and by the way, PR producers, that ending was pretty cruel], I was lucky enough to see an extended trailer for the upcoming disaster flick 2012.

And here's the thing. I really, really would prefer not to see any more movies where a major American city (scratch that... any major city) gets summarily destroyed. Particularly New York, of course, but I don't really bear LA any notable ill will (despite its concentration of Polanksi apologists) and I'd rather not watch it get all blowed up, either. Ditto Chicago. Or San Francisco. Or even Detroit.

You know what really struck me, though, as I sat there wishing I weren't watching live TV and could fast-forward through the carnage? While all the buildings were toppling over and cars were flying through the air, and trains were crashing into gigantic fireballs? We don't actually see any people getting killed en masse. I suppose it's a major buzz-kill for movie-goers, who'd just as soon cheer loudly while all the shiny buildings crash into each other, to imagine all the people inside who are perishing horribly. And I realize the experience is supposed to kick ass, instead of crushing one's soul, and nobody goes to a movie like 2012 expecting cinema verite. But maybe our entertainments would be less empty and oddly flat if they didn't present apocalyptic destruction as wildly enjoyable.

I'm not going to go all maudlin and moan about how "9/11 changed everything" and such, though I would recommend David Foster Wallace's "The View from Mrs. Thompson's" for an excellent meditation on that day and the resonance it had with contemporary film carnage. But whatever thrill I may have once had watching a metropolis crumbling into ruin is long gone, probably for good.


  1. I've got to disagree with this. Just because you enjoy watching something doesn't mean you want it to happen in real life (see: murder mysteries, horror, slapstick comedy, etc. etc.) Says nothing about the audience or the filmmakers that people make such movies or that they like watching stuff get blown up.

    There can be filmmaking that encourages a crazy to do his thing, or that glorified violence might have a slight tendency to cause more violence. But buildings blowing up does not inure one to the actual destruction of cities. Enjoying fake cities blow up is not at all emotionally similar to enjoying real buidlings blow up.

    Of course, one can not enjoy it because of one's own experiences (and I had the same thought while watching the trailer for 2012. But that's not to say no one would, or should, enjoy it.

  2. Here is the thought I had while watching the trailer for 2012: WHO KEEPS HIRING AMANDA PEET? She is probably the worst actress alive today.

    Also, John Cusack looks puffy.

  3. Let me clarify. I don't think that the filmgoers actively seek the destruction of LA, or would revel in it were it to actually come to pass. But there is something odd about the ever-increasing ante on wholesale urban destruction in our recent disaster movies, and it was really striking to me, as the artfully rendered cityscape collapsed upon itself, how devoid of actual human suffering it seemed.