Veering dangerously close to self-parody, but not quite crossing the line, Scroogian apocaphile James Howard Kunstler deconstructs that Christmas fave of young and old, It’s a Wonderful Life:
At a crucial point in the story, Clarence the guardian angel takes George Bailey on a tour of Bedford Falls as-if-George-had-never-been-born. Only the town is named Pottersville now. Main Street is lined with gin mills, strip clubs, and dance halls instead of wholesome banks, groceries, and pharmacies. (Oddly, casinos are absent, because in 1946 we lacked the vision to see how truly demoralized our nation could get.) Prostitutes ply the busy sidewalks. Now the weirdest thing is that Pottersville is depicted as a busy, bustling, lively place — the exact opposite of what main streets all over America really became, thanks to George Bailey’s efforts — a wilderness of surface parking, from sea to shining sea, with WalMart waiting on the edge of every town like Moloch poised to inhale the last remaining vapors of America’s morale. Frank Capra could imagine vibrant small towns turning their vibrancy in the direction of vice — but he couldn’t imagine them forsaken and abandoned, with the shop fronts boarded up and the sidewalks empty, which was the true tragic destiny of all the Bedford Falls in our nation.