Some months ago, my colleague Henry Stewart noted a trend in recent Hollywood blockb(l)usters of destroying America’s token liberal metropolis: San Francisco. In a recent post, the Los Angeles Times‘ David Ng observes a similar cinematic city destruction-porn trend targeted at Paris’s Eiffel Tower. Most recently, G.I. Joe: Would You Like Freedom Fries With That? featured the steel monument being dissolved by some sort of green ooze, like so.
Of course, there was also the opening shootout in Team America: World Police, a seconds-long destruction cut-away in Armageddon, and countless other moments, many of which Ng enumerates. Why the Eiffel Tower? Well, he suggests it could be symbolic vengeance for perceived cultural condescension, or a completely base appeal to red state audiences. I think it’s a little more psycho-sexual than that: American audiences are indulging a fantasy of castrating the only phallic monument in the world more absurdly phallic than their own (the Washington Monument, or “Tiny Eiffel” as I like to call it). Is this wave of Eiffel-toppling actually an epic Oedipal drama, or is something else going on here?