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 hint at things to come, we turn 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 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 1970s 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 infiltrates the island to rescue the president, whose plane has crashed there.
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 Statue of Liberty may come to summarize the outcome of 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 insurance enrollees in Manhattan really puts the death in “death spiral.”
The Warriors (1979)
The Movie: Youth gangs from around the city meet in the Bronx to plot a takeover of New York, 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.
Fort Apache, the Bronx (1981)
The Movie: Paul Newman and Ed Asner play NYPD cops struggling to
maintain order and find a cop killer in a minority neighborhood overrun by criminality, dependency, and poverty.
The Real World: A de Blasio blue-ribbon commission demands stricter gun control, more government spending, and more-compassionate law enforcement to cure the “siege mentality” evident among the police force. In other words, everything that led to the situation in the first place.
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 Stay-Puft man’s high sugar content, clearly counter to post-Bloomberg-era 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: This is a clear case of sensible criminal profiling: Anyone wearing a mask and cape should be subject to stop-and-frisk.
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.)
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 vigilante campaign after hoodlums attack his family.
The Real World: Scandalously, 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 and the Chrysler Building. Bruce Willis saves the world by fracking the asteroid.
The Real World: Would Park Slope progressives really let an oilman save the planet?
— Scott McKim is web producer of National Review Online.