To Blow Up or Hook Up
March 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
With the movie Battle: Los Angeles coming out this weekend, Patricia Beauchamp tests her theory that we love in New York and die in L.A., at least in Hollywood terms. Some of the greatest romance films are based in New York City (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Annie Hall, West Side Story) while films of destruction, alien invasion, and cheap flings tend to take place in Los Angeles (The Terminator, Die Hard, Transformers).
Alyssa Rosenberg, another Atlantic writer, adds that after 9/11, we’re not ready to see New York fall, due to aliens or otherwise. It’s sensitivity that pushes the battle to the west coast.
I would go one step further and say that in movie romances, if not always true to reality, we demand the usual happy ever after: the one soulmate who’s committed, faithful, and lasting. And what better way to convey the feelings of permanence and commitment than a city steeped in history, culture, and old architecture?
There may be a flood of new people every day, changes in industry and fashion, but there is always Coney Island, the Empire State Building, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and the memories made in each place. We imagine the happy ever after post-credits to include settling down, a few kids, Thanksgiving dinner. And what other city has been called home to thousands of immigrants passing through, to so many cultures carving out a space to be?
It’s not that L.A. doesn’t have a long history, but its history is that of the migrant laborer, the rugged adventurer, of wanderlust. Survival has always been questionable, hard work and dangerous work at that. Fighting aliens fits. Grappling with a relationship – while perhaps more realistic – is just not the way we want our characters to live and love.