Falling Down

Have you ever seen the 1993 film "Falling down" starring Michael Douglas? If not, I highly recommend you stop reading this post and go watch it. This film brilliantly conveys how capitalism makes false promises to the middle class and how that middle class can become reactionary in response.


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source: YouTube

When I saw the film for the first time in the 1990s I just thought it was a good film about how one man is slowly driven to anger and madness as he feels betrayed by society. I've since seen the movie many times and with each viewing it became clearer that the protagonist, William Foster, doesn't just become angry and mad, but that his anger and madness is driven by capitalism's false promises and his deep wish for a return to "normalcy", to "the good old days". But throughout the film he encounters changes in society he's only able to temporarily turn back by means of violence. There is no turning back the clock, and the return to an idealized past can only be achieved at gun-point.

At the start of the film our protagonist is stuck in a traffic jam on a hot day, surrounded by annoying everyday people, and to make things worse his car's air-conditioning breaks down; immediately we're confronted with capitalism's defective products, a theme that will return on several occasions. Fed up with it all he leaves his car and decides to continue on foot. When asked "where do you think you're going" by the automobilist stuck behind his abandoned car, he answers "I'm going home"; the first sign that he wants to return to everything he knows to be normal and sane in an insane world.

When William needs change to make a phone-call, he goes to a convenience store owned by a Korean immigrant. When he asks for some change, the shop-owner says he must purchase something, so he buys a soda expecting to get enough change to make that phone-call. But here capitalism cheats him for a second time; the soda is much more expensive than he expected, 85 cents, so he won't get enough change from a dollar to make that call. Here, and this we see happening in society at large, the protagonist doesn't blame inflation or capitalism, but vents his anger on the immigrant. It's not that William's a racist, he doesn't believe he's genetically superior to the immigrant or anything like that; it's just a case of misplaced anger against the capitalist greed of the merchant. In the fight that ensues, William gets hold of the baseball bat of the shop owner and continues on his way after demolishing much of the shop's inventory.

William then stops in an abandoned park to repair his shoe; yet another product breaking down, not fulfilling its promises. Two gang members confront him, saying he's trespassing in their territory. William fights them off with the bat and takes their knife; this is the first upgrade in his weaponry, and he later gets a bag of guns, even a rocket launcher. When William visits a fast-food restaurant, he already has the bag with guns, he tries to order breakfast, but the restaurant stopped serving breakfast 5 minutes ago, so the manager informs him that he can only order lunch. William's able to convince the manager that "the customer's always right", you know, like in the good old days, but only after threatening him with a gun. When he then gets his burger, it's nothing like the thick, juicy burger on the advertisement photo behind the counter; another one of capitalism's many lies, making him even more angry...

Sick and tired of his broken shoe, William enters an army surplus store to buy some army boots. This shop owner has been listening to a police radio, so he already knows who William is, and he admires William for standing up against the immigrant scum; this shop owner is a full-blown Nazi. I love this part of the movie. I've always said that right wing pundits like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro, Steven Crowder and the likes can deny that they themselves are racist or fascist, but that they should reconsider their beliefs when they see so many racists and fascists among their followers. It's like that in this movie as well; William isn't a Nazi, this Nazi shop owner is in fact the only person in the whole movie that's killed by him. But maybe he could have stopped and asked himself what it is that he does, to make a Nazi agree with him so much, to even make that Nazi claim that "we're the same, you and I"...

I'm going to stop here, but I'll say that we're now approximately halfway through the movie, and that the point it's trying to make becomes ever clearer and that William's downfall reaches the absolute bottom. The strength of the movie as well as Michael Douglas' performance is that the viewer actually roots for William; you actually want him to kick ass and the people he encounters are genuine assholes who you want to see have their asses kicked. Watch the film before you watch the review linked below.


Falling Down (A Tale of a Reactionary) Review - Radical Reviewer


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