|Halftime for America? Sorry Clint Eastwood, it’s Sudden Death|
Much will be made about the Clint Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” commercial during the Super Bowl. Few will point out that the city in which his 2008 movie Gran Torino – Highland Park – was set in has already had the lights turned out in it:
Highland Park, home of Henry Ford’s first moving assembly line, was once a well-off enclave of 50,000 residents. Ford left long ago, and Chrysler’s corporate headquarters moved away in the 1990s. Now it has fewer than 12,000 residents — half the size it was just 20 years ago.
So for this city, a shrunken tax base and financial crisis have been long in the making, and the recent national downturn has only made matters worse. More than 42 percent of Highland Park’s residents live in poverty, unemployment is high and the median income here is nearly $30,000 below that of the state.
“To understand our street lighting situation is to understand the wealth that Highland Park once had; it was a situation where we had the best of almost everything and an abundance of lights,” said Rodney Patrick, whose father insisted on moving his family to Highland Park in the early 1950s because of its advantages — its status, in his words, as the shining city on the hill. “But we don’t have the residents to have the luxuries we had when we were a city of 50,000.”
Highland Park is 93 percent Black, mind you. It was this city where Eastwood tried to rekindle some of the fire that made him such a formidable defender of the law in the Dirty Harry films. Watching the Chrysler commercial with Eastwood, well, it was sad:
One of the biggest surprises of the Super Bowl was Clint Eastwood surfacing at halftime in an ad for Chrysler, although he never had to utter the car maker’s name.
It was the the Clint Eastwood of his movie “Gran Torino,” in which he played a Motor City retired Ford factory worker, not the Clint from “Every Which Way but Loose,” in which he played a truck driver with a pet orangutan named Clyde.
In the Chrysler ad, Eastwood offers a message in his “Dirty Harry,” “Unforgiven,” “Gran Torino,” “Million Dollar Baby” gruff voice about the gritty, tough America, embodied in Detroit’s car comeback, an industry that “finds a way through tough time.”
In 2008, Chrysler was bailed out with $12.5 billion from the U.S. government, and following bankruptcy restructuring is majority owned by Fiat SpA. In 2011, Chrysler earned $183 million, compared with a loss of $652 million in 2010.
Eastwood seems to also be sending a political message in the ad, saying the “fog, division, discord and blame make it hard to see what lies ahead,” but America (and presumably Chrysler with the help of the U.S. government) “knows how to come from behind to win.”
“This country can’t be knocked out with one punch. We get right back up again, and when we do the world is going to hear the roar of our engines. Ya, it’s halftime in America, and our second half is about to begin,” Eastwood says as he drifts off camera and the Chyrsler, Jeep, Dodge and Ram logos appear.
Detroit isn’t coming back. Though Pittsburgh lost its steel industry, its citizens found ways to diversify the economy there and turned The Steel City into perhaps the best place to live in America. After the Black Riots of 1967, white people fled Detroit. By default, Detroit became the Black capital of America.
And by becoming the Black capital of America, Detroit was socked with a punch that will keep it forever on the ground from and incapable of meeting the referees 10-count.
But why must we look at Detroit was being the microcosm for the future health of America? The white people who fled from Detroit have flourished in the suburbs, basically rebuilding the city in the numerous suburbs surrounding the decaying metropolis where Ruin Porn is the primary export.
In Ze’ev Chafets Devil’s Night and Other True Tales of Detroit, we learn that “Detroit is one of the few places in the country where blacks can live in a sympathetic, black-oriented milieu.”
That this milieu is the subject of numerous photo essays discussing the complete degeneration of the city back into nature is not a tolerable subject for conversation.
Black people have destroyed Detroit. The History Channel show Life After People didn’t need CGI to show what will happen when people no longer populate Detroit. It has already happened:
The History Channel will be re-airing its “Life After People” series that premiered in April, and anyone who missed it the first time around might want to check it out. Just be ready to see Detroit in a very unflattering light.
The ten-part series, a spin-off of the channel’s 2008 documentary by the same name, looks at what will happen to earth after humans are gone.
The ninth episode, “The Road to Nowhere,” is the one that features Detroit. The narrator first talks us through what would happen to the Renaissance Center after 25 years without people. Then, the show takes us to another part of Detroit, which it uses as an example of an area already in the throes of abandonment.
What will Detroit look like 40 years after people?” the announcer asks. “We already know…it’s already happened.”
There’s also an extended scene on history.com that shows how lack of human attention already has worn down one abandoned factory.
Wait a second… why isn’t Pittsburgh used for real-life video for Life After People? Well, that’s because Pittsburgh is one of the biggest cities in America with the whitest population. In fact, Stuff White People Like (SWPL) whites consider the next Portland:
This year’s List has spoken, and writers Dan Zak and Monica Hesse have laid their anointed hands upon my hometown for 2012. Pittsburgh, Pa., is cool now. Sorry, Portland hipsters!
Pittsburgh is poised to offer a new type of lifestyle. And the Steel City has its own bike routes, microbreweries, organic food markets, art and lush scenery. Pittsburgh was named one of the world’s 20 must-see destinations by National Geographic Traveler in 2011 (Only one other place in the United States, Sonoma, Calif., made the list). And with its dramatic merging of two rivers, it has one of the best skylines in America. And don’t forget that it has one of the country’s weirdest and most delicious sandwiches.
Portland (Metro area: 78 percent white/Core city: 74 percent white/Suburbs: 80 percent white) and Pittsburgh (Metro area: 88 percent white/Core city: 67 percent white/Suburbs: 91 percent white) represent the polar opposite of Detroit (Core city: 82 percent Black). It’s not coming back. White people are flocking to the two former cities, while even Black people are fleeing Detroit as the primary industry for growth seems to be in providing compelling real footage for Life After People.
American can make a comeback, but only if we admit why Detroit failed, and why Pittsburgh flourishes.
Detroit is a Black city; Pittsburgh is a white city.
It’s a quote from Chafets book that warns us what happens to any city that goes majority Black. Writing about yet another reelection for Detroit Mayor Coleman Young (1989), Chafets states (p. 231 – 232):
A few days after the election, [Detroit] News columnist Chauncey Bailey, a thoughtful man who Coleman Young once branded an Uncle Tom, explained why.
“Observes miss the point when they suggest that Young is lesss of a historical figure because he does not come across as “moderate” as do other African-American leaders now making inroad in less black cities, and is therefore out ofstep with a “new generation” of leadership.
Only New York City and Chicago have more African-American residents than Detroit. new York is 25 percent African-American and has just elected its “first Black” mayor. Chicago is 40 percent African-American but lost power when African-Americans showed disunity. Due to their racial makeups, leaders in those cities must be more moderate to win. But Detroit is where more big cities will be in the coming decades. Young’s legend will be the model, not a myth, that many will turn to.”
Bailey’s prediction reminded me of something I had heard more than a year earlier from Father William Cunningham, a very savvy white priest who has worked in the inner city for twenty years. “Detroit is the center of an American revolution,” he had told me. “We’re twenty years ahead of Chicago, forty years ahead of New York City. God knows where we are in comparison to San Diego. In terms of civil rights, this is Broadway. There’s no place else where black power has spoken like it has in this city. And what happens here will eventually happen in the rest of the country.
Detroit in 2012. On the verge of being taken over by a form of financial martial law. Used as the basis for real-life footage for Life After People. The mecca for those seeking photographs for Ruin Porn coffee table books. There is no place in America where Black power has spoken like it has in Detroit, a profound reminder that the concept of “Black power” is anathema to the building, maintaining, or survival of civilization.
Halftime in America? Sorry Clint Eastwood, just like the city where Gran Torino was based, the game is over for Detroit. The lights are going out.
This revolution spoken about in Chafets book must not be allowed to destroy another American city. The lights are dim all around Detroit, because “Black Power” lacks any ability to keep actual electricity going. It’s a reminder of what happens in Life After White People.
We can’t allow the fate of Detroit to befall another American city. So Clint Eastwood is wrong: it isn’t halftime in America, but sudden death. We can see the reason Detroit is on the verge of complete collapse and juxtapose it with why Pittsburgh has become one of the most livable cities in America, or we can watch that revolution (what we call Actual Black Run America- ABRA) of “Black power” spoken so fondly of in Devil’s Night swallow more and more of America.
It all starts with one simple statement: Black people are responsible for the decline of Detroit. Once white people, who founded, built, sustained Detroit were forced to flee for their safety after the Black Riot of 1967, those same Black agent provocateurs were incapable of running The Motor City or creating new industry or economic activity (drug dealing doesn’t count) in the wake of the decline of the auto industry.
White people in Pittsburgh? Well, its one of the best places to live in America, 20 years after the ruination of the steel industry. Why? Whites created a new economy.
So it’s sudden death America. Can you admit Detroit failed because it represents a post-colonial African society in America, where Black people lacked the ability to run a functioning government, sustain infrastructure, or create new industries or businesses that promoted growth (save Ruin Porn)?
If not, then America is finished. Black Power did speak in Detroit. What we have heard is available in Season One of Life After People.