As former New York mayor Ed Koch once quipped: “The people have spoken … and they must be punished.” Now that Bill de Blasio has been elected the next mayor of New York City, nervous residents are wondering what this portends for the future of life in the Big Apple. Just how bad might it get? For a humorous hint at things to come, we turned to Hollywood, which has chronicled the many woes of New York City— real and imagined — in countless films over the years. Here’s a look at some possible nightmare scenarios for Manhattan as conjured on the big screen.
Many fear de Blasio will be light on crime — he opposes the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” program — and that the city will return to the high crime rates of the ’70s and ’80s. National Review veteran Daniel Foster captured this sentiment when he tweeted on election night: “The real winner in New York City tonight? Snake Plissken.” Which leads us to our first cinematic inspiration:
Escape From New York (1981)
The Movie: Manhattan has been turned into a giant prison island crawling with violent gangs. “Snake” Plissken breaks into the island to rescue the President. The Real World: The IPAB seems to have denied Plissken’s claim for a replacement eyeball.
Planet of the Apes (1968)
The Movie: An astronaut lands on a planet dominated by intelligent apes and discovers he is in Earth’s own future. The Real World: Charlton Heston’s famous screed at the foot of the ruined State of Liberty may come to summarize the outcome de Blasio’s blue-state economic policies.
I Am Legend (2007)
The Movie: Will Smith plays an Army scientist investigating a cure for a mutant plague that has turned most of humanity into zombies. The Real World: The dwindling number of living health-care insurance enrollees in Manhattan really puts the death in “death spiral.”
The Warriors (1979)
The Movie: Youth gangs meet to plot a takeover of the city, but things go awry when a charismatic leader is killed, and the gangs turn on each other. The Real World: All these violent youths really need is an effective anti-bullying course. Luckily, they can rely on their parents’ health-care insurance to recover from all those stab wounds.
The Movie: Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd battle spectral threats across New York City and accidentally conjure a giant marshmallow man from their deepest subconscious. The Real World: Even scarier than its size is the marshmallow’s high sugar content, clearly counter to NYC health codes.
The Movie: Crime-fighting superheroes are driven out of business by government decree, leaving New York City at the mercy of criminals — and a former caped crusader trying to take over the world through clean energy. The Real World: Clear case of police profiling as anyone wearing a mask and cape is subject to stop-and-frisk.
The Movie: The iconic Japanese mega-monster arrives in Manhattan to wreak havoc, settle down, and start a family. The Real World: Would Mayor de Blasio assent to the destruction of Madison Square Garden in order to kill an endangered species?
Death Wish (1974)
The Movie: Charles Bronson plays a New York architect who goes on a campaign of vengeance against the hoodlums who attacked his family. The Real World: The real scandal: Bronson evades city gun laws by obtaining his handgun in Arizona.
The Movie: Though most of the action in this tale of an impending asteroid strike takes place in space, Manhattan gets its share of damage when meteors smash Grand Central Station and the Chrysler building. Bruce Willis saves the world by fracking the asteroid. The Real World: Would we really let an oilman save the planet?
Soylent Green (1973)
The Movie: A cop in 2022 Manhattan (Heston again) dealing with massive overpopulation and food shortages discovers (SPOLER ALERT!) that the titular food item is made from “PEOPLE!” The Real World: Soylent Green probably wouldn’t be allowed under Mayor Bloomberg’s food regulations. (Probably.)