Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm just going to have a quick shower...

The Bates Motel, of Psycho fame, is being moved to make room for an apartment complex, according to this article in the Mail and Guardian.

Now, there are many excellent and not so excellent jokes that could be made about moving into an apartment on the former location of the Bates Motel, and between the title of this post and the lede of the article you'll see most of them have already been made. What I find interesting in all of this is the power of the movies to create real-world places.

Obviously, there was never a real Bates Motel. What's more, the fakeBates motel, rather than being in the middle of nowhere, is of course in Universal City in the middle of Greater Los Angeles. So here you have a fake building in a town known for artifice, and you still get stories about this development referencing the site's "previous occupants," as though Norman Bates were a real person.

I don't know why it is that places are evocative, though there's no doubt that they are-I remember looking around the battlefield at Isandlwana, where the South Africans have helpfully placed stones at the spots where every British soldier fell, and getting a chill at the thought of a battle that happened a hundred years previously. So obviously imagination plays a big role here. But we're not talking so much about the characters in Psycho resonating with people, or the images of the motel itself-the evocative kick is supposed to come from the land on which a soundstage was constructed.

I can see why this is a story-this is an enormous development, from the sounds of things, and the Bates motel hook is the sort of thing that assignment editors love. And to be sure, while I think the whole "site of the Bates motel" thing is goofy I can also see that it's the sort of thing you'd tell people at housewarming parties. Though I can also imagine awkward silences and nervous laughter in response to the story...


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