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Every American city boasts an official mascot. Except for Los Angeles, which is often described as a doomed city destined to destruction and failure. The City of Angels – with its immigrants, its poverty, its shallowness and its natural problems – has become what the other American cities tend to avoid.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, writers, filmmakers and artists in general have analyzed the different ways in which Los Angeles could be destroyed and have therefore started a new literary genre describing the destruction of the City of Angels. All Los Angeles-based fiction can be categorized in different sub-genres depending on the means of destruction which, according to the authors, devastate the city. But all sub-genres interact one another, eventually defining the characteristics of the new genre itself.
Los Angeles disaster fiction started with a Japanese invasion of southern California in Homer Lea’s 1909 account, The Valor of Ignorance. Lea carefully describes in his work how the Japanese troops could attack America’s west coast, ending up with conquering the Pacific Ocean and starting the invasion of the whole country. Los Angeles is depicted as the most important city of the coast, since it “constitutes the single strategic point upon which depends the security of southern California” . Nevertheless, nothing has been done by the US Government to protect the city against the coming hordes: the invasion is then inevitable. It was only 32 years after The Valor of Ignorance was written, when Japan attacked the US Pacific fleet docked at Pearl Harbour, that Lea’s words finally came true.
The nuclear holocaust is a widely used theme in science fiction. Throughout the Cold War, it was something most people were afraid of and it seemed to be very possible. Robert Moore Williams’s book The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles, published in 1961, portrays Los Angeles as a city under the menace of a mysterious and unknown molecule which “has taken over the entire nervous system of human beings” : most Los Angeles dwellers have turned into zombies and menace all survivors. But the nuclear holocaust is also a central theme in Steve De Jarnatt’s 1988 film Miracle Mile, in which the “me generation” America is shown throughout a deep analysis of the main characters. Los Angeles is represented as a very self-centred city which has gone wild after the spread of the superficial Hollywood culture.
But there’s more. Los Angeles is perfectly cast in the role of environmental suicide. Since earthquakes, floods and natural disasters have always been a typical feature of the city’s landscape, numerous authors have described nature’s revenge. Pat Robertson wrote The End of The Age in 1995. In his book he destroys Los Angeles with a tidal wave generated by the impact of a giant meteor. But as the theme of natural disaster develops from the Sixties, along with new discoveries in technology, movies have concretely brought Los Angeles’s apocalypse on the screen and literally shocked America. Earthquake by Mark Robson and Volcano by Mick Jackson are the perfect examples of movies which describe the failure of a city that doesn’t hesitate to make money on its own destruction.
“L.A. is doomed” are words that have been pronounced in hundreds of books, movies and accounts. It seems that the world is waiting for Los Angeles to be destroyed. It does not matter whether this happens by invasion, nuclear power or earthquake.
 Homer Lea, The Valor of Ignorance, p. 142
 Robert Moore Williams, The Day They H-Bombed Los Angeles, p. 97
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