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Falling Down (1993), Consumer Revolt Scene

by Phil Ethington

Falling Down is a deliberate attempt by the screenwriter and director to create a timely and realistic portrait of Los Angeles and the state of the nation in the year after the Rodney King Uprising (April 1992). Douglas plays the unbalanced and increasingly violent "D-FENS" sympathetically, but his view of the immigrant metropolis is contemptuous. The writing, directing, and acting all point to a real, not merely a stage, sympathy for the plight of crew-cut white-collar relic of the 1960s, with pen holder in his pocket, horn-rim glasses, and drafting tools in his bedroom in his mother's house. He’s a Willie Loman on an Odyssey through the city, in which he encounters monsters that are also common annoyances to all Americans: poor quality fast food served by the forced cheerfulness of their minimum-wage jobs at the boomtown of a service-sector economy run by giant fast-food franchises. Douglas’s character confronts four kinds of enemies: Ethnic others/non-white immigrants; The government, as represented by Metro Rail transit construction sites that block traffic and his way on foot. The fourth is as Neo-Nazi Surplus Store owner, apparently scripted to show that Douglas is not one, but rather an "American." There are two scenes in which D-FENS plays Consumer Rebel.  The very first scene on his journey, the Korean-owned convenience store, involves both race-ethnic intolerance and anti-immigrant dialogue, plus an attack on high prices.  In the Whoopie Burger scene, most of the patrons are non-white, but the staff is all-white. The multicultural customers are not the target of his rage. Indeed, he seems to appoint himself their Tribune, showing the unfeeling corporate leadership that the American people are sick of their games. Beyond these two scenes of consumer anger, D-FENS's negativity about multiracial America is evident in nearly every other scene.

Falling Down "Consumer Revolt" Scene

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Falling Down Dir. Joel Schumacher. Warner Bros, 1993. Screenplay by Ebee Roe Smith, Starring Michael Douglas and co-starring Robert Duvall. The story of an unemployed Defense Industry missile engineer at the end of his rope, and a retiring cop.

from Falling Down (1993)
Creator: Joel Schumacher
Distributor: Warner DVD
Posted by Phil Ethington