Monday, April 2, 2012

Reaction to "Falling Down"

MOST OF  the time when I think of Los Angeles I think of the positives - good weather, diverse people, lots of things to do etc. After watching the movie Falling Down, it made me more aware of some of the drawbacks of the city; ones I knew existed but often did not think about because I was too busy thinking about the things I liked. .

The first thing this film brought to light for me was frustrations with traffic. I have lived in Los Angeles for close to three years now and there was a point where I felt like I was getting used to dealing with the ridiculous amounts of traffic within the city. The film begins with William Foster stuck in a seemingly endless line of cars not moving at all. We don't know what is going on with his character yet besides a desperate desire to get out of the traffic jam, so he gets up out of his car just leaving it in the traffic and walks away. About a week after we watched the film, I was in a similar rut of traffic and almost considered doing what William Foster had done in the movie. Even though when rationally thought about as it being "just traffic," the reality is that it is a large source of stress for a lot of people and not particularly easy to overlook.

Another thing Falling Down made me think about was the reality of gang violence in the city. Although West LA and Westchester are pretty safe areas, there are a lot of places in the city plagued by gang violence, and this was even more of a problem in the early 1990's when the film was made. William Foster gets in an altercation with gang members for being in their area, crossing into their territory. I feel grateful I do not live in such an area, and seeing a reminder of this made me feel for those who do have to live in such areas.

A final thing the film Falling Down does portray are racist tendencies of many in the city. The main Latinos shown in the film are those in the gang, and at the beginning of the film Foster destroys a Korean storeowner's market because he has a heavy accent. Later, he runs into the Army surplus store of a white supremacist who appears to hate just about everyone. Although it is not something that I have experienced really living here, it is something I know goes on for a lot of people.

This film was a good reality check, and although I still love Los Angeles as a city it made me realize that everything is not perfect here. If anything, it made me appreciate what I do like about the city even more.

-- Derek Dellovo
photo via wikipedia

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