This is another one of those ‘doesn’t impact you till you live there’ scenarios. When you are happily ensconced on the arse-end of the world you watch disaster/action/sci-fi movies and completely accept the big cities meeting their doom. Let’s be honest at the point of the big disaster scene you are more likely to be thinking about Will Smiths links to Scientology or trying to figure out when the females had time to shave their armpits – don’t even get me started about them all running in heels. But when you live in London, like with so many damn things, it all changes.
Ok so New York seems to be the number one victim in the movies, but I think that is just because Americans have better teeth. The old London being bullied by aliens/spys/hens dos comes up a close second in my books (and a 5 on the official list). When you live here and see dragons on top of the Houses of Parliament in Reign of Fire or the entire city being trashed in G.I. Joe (stop judging me for watching that, I fell into a dark hole of Netflix one night) the movie just has a little bit of an extra sucker punch. All of a sudden you feel like it could happen to you.
London on film is not something new, however normally people from this insane city react by worrying about the misrepresented public transport links. You know you are a true Londoner when you watch James Bond focus on how his tube somehow goes straight from Temple to Westminster seemingly without stopping at Embankment. I mean Embankment is a fucking hell hole but you can’t wish it away just because you have the licence to kill. I’m not kidding about these transport grumbles, when the feminist drug fuelled Sherlock episode aired last weekend people were more upset that the Number 11 wrongly went up Baker Street.
Watching the entire city (or just major landmarks) being trashed sparks something more primal entirely. When you see ‘your’ city being blown up the movie goes from enjoyable to HOLY FUCK RUN AWAY NOW in a heartbeat. Especially since the recent Paris terrorist attacks, seeing your city attacked on film in full Dolby Surround Sound is horrible. The directors must be thrilled to achieve this nugget of realism. It’s not often that a fictional alien based film can make you plan escape routes from the tube whilst still sat in the cinema.
As well as the horror you get a spark of outrage as well, a nationalistic pride for a country that you are not even a damn national of. When the London Eye falls over, Buckingham Palace is invaded or Death Eaters destroy Millennium Bridge you all of a sudden come over all British and muttering “how bloody dare they” under your breath. The outrage (and shame) of knowing that if one of these scenarios were to actually happen you would probably react by changing your Facebook photo to something supportive and be emotional for a day…but then start complaining about the inconvenience of the bridge being out and ‘when is someone going to do something about it’. But at least that means you have truly integrated with the British right?
It’s not even like you can vow to stay away from the ‘film blown up’ hot spots. I tried once and found myself 30 minutes later walking past the Houses of Parliament to get to a new cafe. London is just too photogenic. I would be that girl in the movie who tries to run away in the opening shot, falls over and then is engulfed by flames. If I’m lucky the protagonist might make a terrible joke about curly hair, cats or bloggers at my expense.
In some ways being the fifth most popular city to be destroyed in movies has its upsides, I mean NYC will always give us a fair warning of what to expect. As long as we get that disaster heads up we have a chance of survival right? And at least this means that London will continue to be a tourist destination, I think? Although thankfully the Avengers don’t seem to like Western Europe (it might be the data roaming charges) so there are some small blessings.
Pin me for later!