When films like Independence Day show news reports of spacecraft threatening major global cities, they always seem to leave out Calgary or Montreal. For some reason, Godzilla has yet to make a detour to Halifax and Roland Emmerich has yet to drop an aircraft carrier on Medicine Hat. And when Canadian landmarks are destroyed on film, like Vancouver's Lion's Gate Bridge in the centerpiece action sequence of the upcoming Final Destination 5 or Toronto City Hall in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, they're meant to be located either in the U.S. or in a fictional metropolis.
The more you think about it, this lack of apocalyptic destruction isn't just baffling – it's infuriating, and more than a little bit depressing. Disaster movies target cities like Los Angeles and London because they occupy a massive place in the global imagination. 2012 toppled the Vatican because it's the biggest symbol of one of the world's major religions. The fact that Canada hasn't been attacked on film has an implicit, dispiriting message: The rest of the world just doesn't care about us, or about that giant antenna we built in the middle of downtown Toronto. As architecture professor Max Page wrote in the Boston Globe, the fact that New York is the frequent setting of people's worst fears means that it is also the home to their greatest hopes. If Canada never bears witness to its own destruction, it suggests we have nothing worth destroying in the first place.
On wanting a particular piece of the pop culture pie, and what that says about place.