In her oft-cited review of The French Connection, Pauline Kael noted the irony that then-NYC Mayor John Lindsay increased film production in the Big Apple only to expose the world to a "horror city" version of New York through consistently dark portrayals in films made there during the late '60s and early '70s (and beyond, after the review was published). Of course, they weren't always exaggerations of how bad the city was at the time, but you'd think the Mayor's Office would have been concerned with how such negative depictions affect tourism (some very popular '80s NYC films, such as Splash and Crocodile Dundee would later seem to be the answer, with their pro-tourism and immigration themes).

A humorous post on the New York Times City Room blog re-imagines some NYC-set films, not just those from "horror city" era, had they been forced to "show the shiny side of the Big Apple." That piece responds to a print article from the Times that takes a look at how some states are indeed censoring what kinds of movies are shot there -- or at least those movies shot there that want to benefit from tax breaks. Michigan has reportedly denied a cannibalism-centered horror film called The Woman (a sequel to Offspring) because "it is unlikely to promote tourism or to present or reflect Michigan in a positive light."
Meanwhile, Texans are concerned about the political and violent themes of Robert Rodriguez' Machete, especially since that controversial Cinco de Mayo trailer that bashed Arizona's new witch-hunt-like immigration law. Florida also recently had some controversy regarding its attempt at censoring film productions, which was viewed as against homosexuals. Other states merely frown upon movies that are or might be deemed pornographic (or simply rated NC-17). But the people of these states aren't so much worried about the tourism industry; they mostly just don't want their tax dollars to go towards films they disagree with.

It's an interesting argument, one that has always floated around the idea of Americans' taxes funding the arts. From what is shown on PBS to what is taught in schools to what is hanging in government-subsidized museums, there will always be people who find this or that indecent. And at times it makes sense that people don't want to pay for what they don't like (just as I wish my tax money didn't go towards certain things, but we've all got our protests). But I'd rather not focus on that political aspect of the article.

It's the concern over negative presentations or reflections of the state itself that interest me more in terms of this debate. Though I am always most fascinated with the portrayal of NYC through the years, I have also been mindful of depictions of my home state of Connecticut, which I always find is represented either too idyllically or as too rich and snobby. Also, my roots are in Alabama, so I've always gotten mad at the stereotypical portrayals of the state as a completely backwoods, redneck-filled, racist place. Surely there are other people in the Deep South who similarly hate how their state is shown on the big screen.

What about the rest of you all over the nation: is there a certain movie -- or a general lot of them -- that anger you with how they represent your state (or city/town/region)?
categories Movies, Cinematical