Gonna fly now: Why do disaster movies always snub Philadelphia?

Gonna fly now: Why do disaster movies always snub Philadelphia? March 26, 2014

I have previously complained about the lack/surfeit of respect paid to the great city of Philadelphia in Hollywood disaster movies. Space aliens never seem to invade Philly. Asteroids and nuclear missiles always seem to strike somewhere else. No earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves or kaiju either for this attractive and, one would think, eminently destroyable city.

Here’s what I wrote in that earlier post:

I’ve lived more than half my life here in the Delaware Valley, in and around the City of Brotherly Love. It’s a world-class city — a proud metropolis that can boast of a unique role in American and world history. It’s the home of world-famous icons like Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and the Rocky statue. Philadelphia is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. It’s bigger than Dallas — bigger than San Francisco and D.C. combined.

I find myself illogically and inappropriately offended at seeing our great city getting snubbed like this by space aliens and Antichrists.

I know there are many writers among the readers of these Left Behind posts, so here is my plea to you: Please, in your next apocalyptic novel, short story or screenplay,remember Philadelphia. When your alien spacecraft descend, or your zombie hordes shuffle, or your Old Ones re-awaken, or your post-singularity machines arise, think of Ben Franklin and the birthplace of liberty and pay us the respect of including our great city among your prominent targets. At least have the courtesy to have your aliens/zombies/Old Ones destroy Philadelphia before, say, Cleveland. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

The diligent researchers at Deadspin have now provided scientific confirmation of our fair city’s strange immunity to cinematic destruction. Their interactive map, “How Hollywood Has Destroyed America,” reveals a paltry three films portraying the destruction of Philadelphia.  That’s one fewer than Perfection, Nevada, a fictional town with a population of 14. (Deadspin forgot about 12 Monkeys, which would bring Philly’s total to four.)


Philly deserves better than this. George Washington was president here. You’d think the space invaders would at least stop by Philadelphia so they could park their mothership on Eakins Oval and run up the art museum steps.

I mean, OK, so the hostile aliens may have “minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarding this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drawing their plans against us.” Fine. But they’re still gonna want to run up the art museum steps, pumping their fists in the air like Rocky, because I don’t care what planet you’re from, you pretty much have to do that.


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