The film, like the novel on which it was based, became hugely popular. Historian Robert Schultz argues that the film and the novel are cultural representations of what Adlai Stevenson had described in 1955 as a "crisis in the western world", "collectivism colliding with individualism," the collective demands of corporate organizations against traditional roles of spouse and parent. That increased corporate organization of society, Schultz notes, reduced white-collar workers' (represented by Tom Rath and the other gray-suited "yes men") control over what they did and how they did it as they adapted to the "organized system" described and critiqued by contemporary social critics such as Paul Goodman, C. Wright Mills, and William H. Whyte, Jr.
Baltimore has public health problems. Its infant mortality rate is high, for instance. But Hopkins is a world-class hospital located in a high-poverty area that treats all comers. It is the centerpiece of a regional medical economy that provides thousands of jobs for Baltimoreans, from doctors and nurses to receptionists and maintenance crews.
Maybe arson and looting will cripple these places. That’s possible. It’s possible unrest will spread and consume whole neighborhoods. On Tuesday, though, volunteers were out cleaning up and relative calm prevailed.
The British bombarded Fort McHenry and tried to burn the city in 1814. It didn’t work then. And in 2015 when the violence cools and the camera crews depart, Baltimore will still be there.