“Enjoy a typical afternoon in New York City,” says the narrator over a shot of two white women walking the streets of Manhattan in a trailer for the 1974 movie “Death Wish” — followed by a jump-cut to a home invasion that leaves one woman dead and the other comatose.
“Death Wish” was the New York City crime film par excellence, depicting a city overrun by a criminal underclass striking at random and with unprecedented violence. The film captured the depth of the urban crisis that New York City faced in the 1970s — a time also marked by Donald Trump’s ascent as a developer and celebrity.
The remake of “Death Wish” released this month, now set in Chicago, marks the triumph of a political narrative of urban violence and depravity that Trump has sold over the course of his campaign and presidency. When Trump suggests that “crime is out of control, and rapidly getting worse” in “our inner cities,” or that Chicago resembles a city in a war-torn country, his rhetoric invokes the image of New York in his formative years — the era of “Death Wish” — far more than the current urban reality. For full article.