Pop Culture Destroys the White House Again

As someone who follows pop culture and its relationship to the political arena, I found it somewhat interesting when the trailer to 2012 was released a few months ago.

In the trailer, there is a clip where the aircraft carrier, USS John F. Kennedy, is swept up by a ginormous tidal wave. The ship capsizes and, as the trailer shows, the ship rolls right on top of the White House.

This scene should actually come as no surprise. The same director who put out the movie Independence Day also destroyed the White House by an invading alien spaceship laser-beaming it into oblivion. The director then was Roland Emmerich. The date that movie was released was July 3, 1996. (In fact, President Bill Clinton was given a private viewing the day before at the White House.) Emmerich will release 2012 on Friday, November 13th. Danny Glover will play the President of the United States.

One surpising thing I remember at the time that ID4 was being talked up across the country, was that many audiences were applauding when the White House was destroyed. Some of you may remember that even Rush Limbaugh mentioned it on his program.

My strange fascination in doomsday and apocalyptic movies makes me wonder if Emmerich planned this latest clip because it provoked such a popularly macabre response in his earlier work or if he has some disdain for who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. For some reason, the mood of the country tells me he may generate the same reaction all over again.

Coincidence? We shall find out.

 


Comments

  1. Actually, a larger theme of Emmerich’s movies is that ignoring science causes destruction.

    ID4, Godzilla, The Day After Tomorrow, 2012 all posit the same thing: it is the eggheads who will save us.

    You’ll remember that in The Day After Tomorrow, the Cheney analogue refuses to listen to scientific fact, and the Bush analogue dies in the too late evacuation of DC.

    But we’re both looking too much for meaning into a Roland Emmerich. Emmerich destroys things because they are iconic – the White House, the Capitol Records building, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Vatican – all emblemic of the cities they’re in.

  2. Klute,

    I’m not sure how ID4 falls into the “ignoring science causes destruction” theme. By the same token, I can’t see the science prevails element in 2012. Godzilla and The Day After Tomorrow, sure if you believe in the radiation causes uncontrolled growth posit and global warming will bring on a macro storm. That’s another huge post in itself.

    I would also agree with you that Emmerich loves to destroy iconic buildings as far of his cinematic modus operandi. in the case of 2012, he takes a swipe at the Vatican and NYC in general. I tend to believe he is an “equal opportunity mass destruction” director. Regardless of his motive of destroying such iconic structures, I do have to wonder if audience reaction will differentiate. When the White House is destroyed in 2012 will the crowd cheer? Will they also cheer when the Vatican rolls over? I’m guessing that there may be more ghasts over the latter than the former. And this takes us back to your first statement about ignoring science (which 2012 really has no “listen to the wisdom of science over superstition” theme) vs. faith and belief.

    I take that back. There is a scientific element at play in 2012 and that deals with preparing an escape or contigency plan in the event of an Extinction Level Event (ELE). But then again, the Christian scriptures remind believers of preparation and building on a solid foundation, etc.

    Regardless, we both have to admit that the movies that Emmerich has directed/produced are just good entertainment for those of us with a macabre fascination with doomsday events. 🙂

  3. “I’m not sure how ID4 falls into the “ignoring science causes destruction” theme.”

    No one listens to Jeff Goldblum’s character until its too late. The usual science-fiction tropes are there (arrival, panic, idiots try to make contact, destruction, use of nuclear weapons is debated, then are used, then futility, and then the scientist is vindicated – basically ID4 is a retlling of George Pal’s ’53 version of War of the Worlds, right down to the use of El Toro Marine base).

    “I can’t see the science prevails element in 2012.”

    The Institute for Human Continuity is made of scientists who study the Mayan Mesoamerican Long Count and start preparations while everyone ignores it.

    As for Day After Tomorrow, no one’s disupting that a 6 day (or whatever it was) climate shift of that magnitude is Hollywood hokum. 100 years? Maybe.

    “When the White House is destroyed in 2012 will the crowd cheer? Will they also cheer when the Vatican rolls over?”

    Just from the trailer, the Vatican scene looks more visceral (the White House looks abandoned, whereas the dome of the St. Peter’s is crushing a bunch of Italian grandmothers), so I think that’s expected. The White House scene looks to be at the end of the movie and a little more “Ozymandias”-styled irony (“Look upon my works, ye mighty and despair…”)

    “I take that back. There is a scientific element at play in 2012 and that deals with preparing an escape or contigency plan in the event of an Extinction Level Event (ELE).”

    Right.

    “Regardless, we both have to admit that the movies that Emmerich has directed/produced are just good entertainment for those of us with a macabre fascination with doomsday events.”

    Absolutely. I love doomsday movies.

  4. One would likely find movie audiences who would cheer seeing the White House blown up regardless of who the President was.

    It is the same reason politicians get booed at sporting events.

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