Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Okay, I confess: I half-watched the atrocious made-for-TV move 10.5. But only for the special effects. Really.

I had to crack up during Sunday night's episode, though, when San Francisco City Hall collapsed as major politicians scrambled for their lives. The dialogue went something like this:

San Francisco Mayor: Governor!! Governor!!
California Governor: Mr. Mayor!! Mr. Mayor!!
San Francisco City Hall: Groan!! Creak!!
San Francisco Mayor: Gover-- AH!!!
San Francisco City Hall: CRASH!!

Admittedly, I wasn't building my nights around this movie, but did they even bother giving the mayor a name?

In any event, the stilted dialogue was so godawful that I had to laugh. I was trying to imagine their real-life counterparts in the same situation, and couldn't quite see them the same way the (alleged) screenwriters saw them.

San Francisco Mayor: Arnold!! Arnold!!
California Governor: Gavin! Don't worry!
San Francisco City Hall: Groan!! Creak!!
San Francisco Mayor: I've got same-sex weddings to perform here!
Same-Sex Couples: Eeek! Will anyone save us?
California Governor: I will hold up the City Hall Dome until you finish the ceremonies, Gavin.
Lesbian Couple: We'll help!
San Francisco Mayor: Thanks, Arnold!
San Francisco City Hall: Drat! Thwarted again!

As far as I could tell, the (probably unnamed) mayor in 10.5 was, er, removed from office in the collapse. The Governor fared better, merely getting trapped in the rubble for a while, which she probably preferred to being reunited with her ex-husband, one of those Duke Boys... 'Daisy,' I think.

But the whole mayor-buried-in-rubble thing got me thinking. Big-city mayors may often be reviled, but -- unlike Presidents or Latin American dictators -- they are seldom the victims of real violence or the destructive fantasies of writers.

Think about it. The roster of colorful mayors -- think Marion Barry or Richard Daley (both of them) or, well, pretty much any mayor of New York City -- is long, but no one seems to be aiming head shots at them. Don't get me wrong -- that's definitely a good thing -- but, with that track record, why are the mayors of peaceful, beatnik-y San Francisco in such danger?

In real life, of course, Mayor George Moscone was gunned down in 1978. Unless I've developed a big hole in my memory, Moscone is the only big-city mayor to be killed in the last few decades. But San Francisco mayors have also been killed off in films like The Towering Inferno and, now, 10.5, while their fictional counterparts in New York, LA, Washington, Chicago, and Boise are free to collect bribes, plot against political rivals, and rig elections without the specter of Death hovering over them.

I don't want to get all religious here, but perhaps there is something about the very position of Mayor of San Francisco that is almost Christ-like. That city's mayor is martyred to wash away the sins of... well, all other mayors. I mean, 'mayor' and 'martyr' even share four of the same six letters! Coincidence? I think not!

Clearly, the fictional, nameless Mayor of San Francisco is only the latest character to be killed off so that all other fictional American mayors can go about their business. That may not be right, but it fits the pattern.

However, I'd recommend that future fictional mayors stick a bit closer to the Governor when things start shaking and burning. Especially if Arnold has the role.