Requiem for Detroit
I missed the new documentary “Requiem for Detroit?” when it ran this weekend on BBC, but from what I'm hearing it was well worth watching.
Granted, you have to live in the BBC viewing area (or be really good at downloading the right software, which I'm not) to have caught it live or via the Internet. I'm still working on it, and when I get to see the film, I'll try to get some more intelligent thoughts about it on the blog.
That said, I thought some of the filmmaker's comments about his experience making the film were disturbing – and, ultimately, inspiring. Julien Temple wrote up his story, which ran in the Guardian last week.
The man knows how to touch a nerve:
Only when I arrived in the city itself did the full-frontal cultural car crash that is 21st-century Detroit became blindingly apparent.
I'm just touching on some high points; it's well worth reading the whole thing here.
On the negative side:
The seeds of the Motor City's downfall were sown a long time ago. The blind belief of the Big Three in the automobile as an inexhaustible golden goose, guaranteeing endless streams of cash, resulted in the city becoming reliant on a single industry. Its destiny fatally entwined with that of the car. The greed-fuelled willingness of the auto barons to siphon up black workers from the American south to man their Metropolis-like assembly lines and then treat them as subhuman citizens, running the city along virtually apartheid lines, created a racial tinderbox. The black riots of 1943 and 1967 gave Detroit the dubious distinction of being the only American city to twice call in the might of the US army to suppress insurrection on its own streets and led directly to the disastrous so-called white flight of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
On the plus side:
With the breakdown of 20th-century civilization, many Detroiters have discovered an exhilarating sense of starting over, building together a new cross-racial community sense of doing things, discarding the bankrupt rules of the past and taking direct control of their own lives. Still at the forefront of the American Dream, Detroit is fast becoming the first "post-American" city. And amid the ruins of the Motor City it is possible to find a first pioneer's map to the post-industrial future that awaits us all. So perhaps Detroit can avoid the fate of the lost cities of the Maya and rise again like the phoenix that sits, appropriately, on its municipal crest. That is why George and I decided to call our film Requiem for Detroit? – with a big question mark at the end.
Good discussion from those who caught the film on DetroitYes! if you want to check it out.
Anyone see it and able to review it?