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Home arrow Geography arrow Beautiful Terrible Ruins: Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline

Looking for Signs of Resurrection

Detroit is not only the mecca of ruin gazers and urban explorers but also exemplifies both spectacular disaster and fascinating possibilities. The dream of comeback and revival strongly appeals to the newly arrived as well as longtime residents. Savvy corporate advertisers use buoyant narratives of survival and hopes for resurrection to make their merchandise appealing, trading on tradition and the Detroit brand while also suggesting that their products are vaguely edgy and transgressive. Although these upbeat visions of the city may rely more on wishful thinking or hucksterism than on visionary dreams, what is most significant about such corporate advertising is the attempt to signal revival even while constructing Detroit as America’s “dark other.” Chrysler Corporation’s marketing and advertising has made the most notable media efforts to produce a vision that sublimates the city’s decline into something thrillingly resilient while simultaneously exotic and elsewhere.

 
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