James Bond’s Stupid “Suburban Prison” Comment at the Oscars
I hate awards shows, but I do enjoy the Oscars. Before children, I used to go to the St. Louis Film Festival Oscar party every year, and, in fact, that was the first date I had with my wife back in 2001. I thought that last night’s show was very good, but that is not the point of this post. As the title might indicate, I am going to take a rip at Daniel Craig for his moronic comment about American suburbia in the 1950s being a prison. As I go, I am going to pretend that Mr. Craig will A) read this and B) care.
I am not an obvious defender of suburbia. During my 20s, I chose to live in downtown St. Louis and in the Central West End. I now live with my family in the way-out suburban community of University City, which is where I lived for most of the time growing up. (If you are not familiar with U. City, it borders St. Louis city and is hardly the typical “suburb.”) But just because the stereotypical suburbs at the heart of Revolutionary Road (one of the only films I actually saw this year) may not be for me, it is clearly beyond stupid to claim they are some kind of a “prison.”
I remember almost exactly what Craig said. He was commenting on how production designers in “Revolutionary Road” made suburbia look “like anything but the prison it was.” He didn’t add, “for some people,” or “for this character,” or “some suburbs.” It was a general condemnation of American suburban life — a life that, another blogger noted, billions of people around the world would kill to lead. I don’t know whether Daniel Craig even knew what he was talking about, or whether he just repeated some writer’s idiotic viewpoint. But if you don’t like the suburbs, then don’t live in the suburbs. Roughly a hundred million Americans live in the “suburbs,” and they live lives of freedom and opportunity. Just because it didn’t work for one character in a good-but-a-little-over-the-top movie doesn’t mean everyone else thinks it’s a prison.
As Thomas Sowell said, everything is a trade-off. Many people choose the suburbs for all the standard reasons: larger lots, good schools, low crime rates (think Ferris Bueller). Some people choose rural living for its advantages: closer to nature, tight communities, peace and quiet (think John Cougar Mellencamp songs). Others choose urban living for the excitement, culture, convenience, and diversity (think Sex and the City). Maybe if you are rich, you get to have all of these things regardless of where you choose to live. Most of America, though, has to decide what is best for them and accept the trade-offs, while most of the rest of the world is amazed by the standard of living in all three options.