"Dispelling myths about Vietnam veterans." USA Today 16 November 2000: A1
Like the title suggests, this article concentrates on going over and dispelling some of the myths that are associated with the Vietnam veteran. For generations, the American public has been bombarded by Hollywood and the media with the same image of the demoralized Vietnam War veteran; much like Travis Bickle is in Taxi Driver. The negative stereotypes surrounding the Vietnam War veteran have been ingrained into the minds of the masses, and usually portray a social outcast who has been physically and psychologically damaged in the war. The article points out that many of the Vietnam soldiers Americans have come to know through movies such as The Deer Hunter, Coming Home and Taxi Driver perpetuate the suicidal, anarchist, angry, and depressed depiction of the veteran. On the contrary, the article suggests that these stereotypes are myths and most veterans are happy, stable, and successful. Some other myths the article dismisses are that 100,000 Vietnam vets committed suicide and that up to 50% have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although this article does not discuss Taxi Driver whatsoever, it’s relevant to the film because it stresses the negative stereotypes, which have been so deeply embedded into the consciousness of the public, associated with Vietnam veterans, such as Travis Bickle is in Taxi Driver. Travis Bickle is exactly the type of character which perpetuates the myths corresponding to veterans into the psyche of the American people and the type of person this article attempts to dispel as being untrue. He is angry, suicidal, lonely, and alienated from urban society. Whether we can hypothesize that all of Travis’ problems are a direct result of the Vietnam War is not clear, however him being a veteran is pertinent to the film. As the article asserts that most stereotypical Vietnam veterans oppose their country and its leaders, which is another myth, Travis directs his frustrated anger at a promising presidential candidate in an apparent assassination attempt.
Many of Travis’ emotions in Taxi Driver, such as feelings of rejection, resentment for society, and cynicism towards politicians, are reflective of the fictitious stereotypes of the veteran’s talked about in this article. This article places a character such as Travis Bickle into the realm of fiction, away from society and reality, which is exactly where he belongs.
This article basically talks about Martin Scorsese and his portrayal and direction of New York City on film. Not limiting itself to just Taxi Driver, the article discusses a number of Martin Scorsese movies which are all based in New York City, such as: the aforementioned Taxi Driver (1976), New York New York (1977), Raging Bull (1980), After Hours (1985), New York Stories (1989), Goodfellas (1990), and The Age of Innocence (1993). Through his cinematic brilliance, Martin Scorsese effectively captures the relentless energy and the bold grittiness of the city, making him the archetypal New York City director.
According to the author, Scorsese is the master of the big city movie and his vision in presenting New York to people all over the world is unparalleled. The author also points out that Scorsese has appeared in most of his films, including Taxi Driver, in which he plays one of Travis Bickle’s passengers who wants to shoot his wife with a .44 magnum.
Although this article does not specifically mention Taxi Driver with great detail, it brings attention to an otherwise overlooked element of the film: Scorsese’s use of New York City as the setting for Taxi Driver functions as an unnoticed, albeit essential supporting role in the movie. If it could, the setting of the film should get its own credit in the cast of characters for Taxi Driver. The movie would not be the same if it wasn’t filmed in New York, for the city enhances Taxi Driver’s dark and murky atmosphere and provides the perfect backdrop for Travis Bickle’s loneliness and alienation. Starting with the opening hazy shot of a steaming sewer underneath a yellow checkered cab to scenes of porno theaters, looting junkies, and corrupt pimps, and even if the movie did not mention the city at all, any average viewer would recognize that the film had to be made in New York City just by the ambiance and vibe it projects, which Scorsese manages to luminously and cleverly capture for the screen. The aura of New York City lurks in the background of every scene and shot in Taxi Driver, sort of playing the role of the ultimate supporting character, giving the film its distinct look and feel. Can you think of a better and more fitting location for this film? I sure can’t.
Additionally, in a city that’s famous for its diversity, heterogeneous social worlds and distinct boroughs it’s plain to see how one distressed veteran, such as Travis Bickle, can get so alienated and estranged from society that he turns to violence to fight the corrupt moral decay of the city.