The eventual removal of troops in the Vietnam War is considered the pivotal movement, stabilizing a troubled America after a series of increasingly antagonizing social and political movements in conflict. The history that led to this point is often referred to as the tumultuous sixties because from the beginning of the Korean War stark social and political divisions were the cause of social unrest and, I contend, a considerable breakdown of the quality of life in urban cities. For the first time in American history, civil disobedience was highly publicized and capable of influencing the actions of ordinary citizens. Through the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, the anti-war movement, and the emergence of the counterculture, people living amongst one another with different perspectives caused riots, violence and the deterioration of daily life.
The ultimate result of the civil movements of the 1960’s carried well into the 1970’s and had a quite a noticeable impact on America’s urban centers. Nowhere else was the emergence of anarchy more evident than in New York City. According to Vincent Cannato in, The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and His Struggle to Save New York, “Between 1966 and 1973, New York’s murder rate climbed 137 percent… car thefts was [up] 84 percent, robberies—209 percent, assault—64%, rapes—112%. ” Besides the large emergence of violent crime, the culture of New York City, Cannato argues, changed into one of public fear. Cannato, through the words of New York Times reporter David Burnham, asserts that citizens were too scared to go about their daily lives and developed habitual paranoid precautions. Film, arguably served as an effective medium to express this state of society. According to film critic David Thomson, “In the 1970’s our movies spoke to us with unaccustomed candour. ” Thomson’s argument that movies were capable of expressing meaningful messages is quite clear in the movie Taxi Driver.
In Taxi Driver, directed by Martin Scorsese, the protagonist, Travis, is a mentally unstable cab driver who encounters disgusting aspects of life in NYC, such as filth, violence, lewdness and prostitution. Because of the deteriorated condition of NYC, Travis feels a personal obligation as an individual to attack these problems directly. In an attempt to correct the problems that he observes, Travis ultimately resorts to violence; however, he furthers no significant gain to address the problems he encountered.
I argue that Taxi Driver serves a political purpose by displaying the deterioration of New York City and...