By Dora Apel
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Extra resources for Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline
One of the most famous examples of such a rustic folly was built at Versailles, allowing Marie Antoinette to play at being a shepherdess. Ruins of the classical world, consumed through the travel gaze of Europeans, tended to confirm for these viewers the status of European countries as the historical apex of civilization. The British in the eighteenth century, through the Grand Tour of the continent that included the Roman Empire, Greece, and the Middle East, confirmed their own sense of superiority by gazing on the ruins of other civilizations, evoking the terror and delight of the Burkean sublime.
People are very anxious about this country, its direction and future. I think Detroit is a metaphor for both the good and the bad in this moment. Detroit is America’s city. Detroit is not just about local issues. It’s not just about providing good PR for Detroit. ”32 It is more useful, then, to focus on why we are so drawn to ruins and ruin imagery and to examine the larger social and cultural roles that images play. This is more easily accomplished by distancing ourselves from the condemnatory use of the term “porn” in order to look more broadly and openly at the effects of ruin imagery and its ideological implications.
Films such as Spielberg’s Jaws, Renny Harlin’s Deep Blue Sea, and James Contner’s Shark Swarm of course depend on shark horror. The latest incarnation is Sharknado, a Syfy channel B movie about a freak hurricane that causes shark-filled water spouts or “sharknados” to flood Los Angeles. ” Like the shark figurations that invoke the sublime through the terrifying in nature, ruin imagery pictures abandonment and decay as a way of mastering and making pleasurable the fears they provoke and embody. The Problematic Concept of “Ruin Porn” The proliferation of ruin imagery has activated a debate that has been raised in the past over photographs of starvation in Africa, poverty in Depression-era America, Holocaust atrocities, or victims of lynching.