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The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. Is the Midwestern icon actually a canary in the American coal mine? DETROPIA is a cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising. Written by
All I ask for out of a documentary is that it teaches me something and makes me feel. Although Detropia doesn't belong in the trash heap, it did not live up to these simple expectations I have put in place. Detroit definitely has an interesting story; in the 1930's it was one of the most populated states in the country, certainly the easiest place to find a good job. Slowly (with the passing of NAFTA in the late 90's- thanks Clinton) jobs left, followed by people. Detroit has seen the largest mass exodus in the country. The film informs us that almost 10,000 houses per month are torn down because they have been abandoned. The city is in ruins. I thought this would make for a good documentary.
First of all, why is the city going through such problems. I think the directors blame the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is fine because it's probably true. However, they assume that the viewer knows all about NAFTA and exactly how it effected the Detroit auto industry. All they explain is that NAFTA happened and CEO's moved their jobs to Mexico, which caused factories to shut down. I would have appreciated a little more depth into NAFTA; maybe a 90 explanation of why NAFTA meant that companies could move down south, why it passed, who was for it, who was against it? Maybe an interview with a proponent and an opponent. Maybe try to get in touch with spokespeople from these companies. Instead we are left having to pause the movie and do our own research.
As a drifter in his early 30's, I'm interested in cities like Detroit. I think places like this are where the revolution is gaining steam. The documentary spends a few minutes describing what is happening. Very briefly they say that there is a plan in the works to move people who live on the outskirts into the city, in order to create more density. Then, they would convert the outlying area to potentially urban gardens. This is a fascinating idea, revolutionary even, yet that's pretty much all we hear about it. We are shown clips of what appears to be a town hall meeting about the proposal, and then we hear three elementary school dropouts saying, "they be playing gardens? That's dumb yo. People be shooting each other over tomatoes." That's it. That's all we're told about the future of Detroit.
Finally, I understand that a city that poor obviously has a pretty dismal education system (although that doesn't explain why the older people, who lived most of their lives during the boom, are also dumb as cow poop), but surely they could have found someone to interview who had the ability to put together intelligent sentences. The main characters are a video blogger (the closest of the bunch to an average IQ), a burned out owner of what appears to be a Blue's club, and a union leader/pimp. Are there no professors? Are there no community groups? Talk about lazy; it seems like the directors had a few friends in the area and interviewed them. Or maybe they just found the first few people they saw, and mic'd them up. Regardless, the documentary sucked. The only positive is that I'll now to more research on the city.
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