Let us journey now to the year 1996, when Spice Girls roamed the Earth, everybody loved Raymond, and the Nintendo64 ruled the video game world. A commercial aired during the Super Bowl showed the unforgettable image of the White House being spectacularly blown up by a humongous spaceship, eliciting two major reactions from people: "Oh, wow! That is SO cool!", and "Man, I hope Slick Willie was home at the time!"
Yes, this was the year of Independence Day, sometimes inexplicably called ID4, a movie that taught us that strippers have mad survival skills, dogs can outrun firestorms, and that Macs are compatible with alien computers. Produced and directed by Roland Emmerich, the producer, director, and co-writer of the successful Stargate two years before, ID was a big, dumb, chunk of cinematic junk food, where you disconnected your brain and just sat back and enjoyed the pretty explosions. Don't think too hard, just smile and go "cooool". Oh look, there's goes Washington DC! And there goes New York City, including a spectacular destruction of the Empire State Building that features a vantage point that doesn't exist in actual NYC! Oh, and LA gets torched too.
Fast forward two years to 1998, where lovers of good music struggled against the omnipresent wailing of Celine Dion's heart going on, and a chemically-enhanced pair of MLB players attacked Roger Maris' home run record. This year, Emmerich brought us the cinematic crapfest knwn as "Godzilla", and introduced us to the phrase "Matthew Broderick, action hero", which makes about as much sense as "Jon and Kate Gosselin, responsible, loyal, dignified parents". This particular stinkfest showed Godzilla trashing New York, which had just recovered from its alien invasion damage of two years prior. But there was good old NYC, once again pretty much smashed flat.
Two years later came The Patriot, which showed us how Mel Gibson single-handedly won the Revolutionary War for us, but New York wasn't destroyed in that one, nor was Washington DC, for that matter, though I suspect that in the latter's case, it was probably because of the minor detail that the city didn't exist at the time. To Emmerich's credit, at least he didn't depict a frothingly insane King George III piloting a gigantic hot air balloon over Philadelphia, and dropping the World's Biggest Cannonball on Independence Hall. Followed, of course by a fiery explosion.
Four years later, Emmerich set back the cause of environmentalism by several decades by inflicting us with The Day After Tomorrow, where he managed to top Independence Day's unrealistic factor by leaps and bounds. Once again, New York City takes it on the chin. Flooding! Freezing! Wolves! (wait...wolves!?!?!?). Washington DC doesn't do too well either. Oh, and LA gets messed up too. Killer tornadoes, don't you know...
We'll just skip past 10,000 BC, which many people did as well. There was no NYC or DC or even LA at the time, although there's the possibilty that several savage tribes of cavemen did in fact survive unevolved, and became known as New York Yankees fans.
Which brings us to 2009, where Beatlemania once again sweeps the nation (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Checking out the upcoming movies for the fall and winter, and you see the previews for "2012", Emmerich's latest "effort". This mega-disaster movie, based on a long dead culture's idea that 2012 will be a special date of change, contains the usual eye-popping special effects as we're bombarded with scene after scene of mega-disasters. Watch as a tidal wave roars over the freakin' Himalayas! Gasp as the USS John F Kennedy is hurled by a tsunami into the White House (man, I hate when that happens!)! Watch as not only LA but all of California dies screaming as the entire state falls into the ocean! Something happens to New York, but I'm not sure what, but on the other hand, you do get to see the faithful masses in St.Peter's Square, assembled to pray for deliverance from the disasters, get crushed by a falling St.Peter's Basilica (ha ha! That'll teach you God-praying types! Have a church dropped on you! This is the irony, folks!).
Personally speaking, it's gotten to the point with me that I see that preview and just roll my eyes, shake my head, and go "Here we go again" (more on that in a future blog, entitled "My Apocalyptic Boycott").
But it also begs the question...what's Roland Emmerich's issue? This man is continually trashing New York City and Washington DC! I don't think the man has missed a single opportunity to blow up NYC or DC, especially the White House. Oh, and sometimes LA. Is Emmerich a critic of the Federal model of national government, and is more of a states rights advocate? Does he just owe a lot of money to the IRS? And what about New York? Did he get mugged there? Did he contract some kind of STD while visiting Times Square years ago? What's the story?
One could argue that NYC and DC (and LA) are big, well-known cities, and thus can convey the impact of some mega-disaster in a way that the average movie-goer can identify with. To those people I say "Shut up. Don't be a killjoy". Besides, there are other recognizable cities out there, like London, for instance. At least Michael Bay had the good taste to show Paris getting flattened by a chunk of the killer asteroid (Fun Fact: You can see the Eiffel Tower from any point in Paris; movies and tv shows tell us so).
So, that's pretty much it. All of this to just throw out the simple question, "What's Roland Emmerich's Issue??". A slightly less obvious question is, with him destroying the Earth, where does he go from here? Can he keep raising the bar? What's next? "Roland Emmerich Destroys the Entire Universe"??