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Madonna’s Last Tour: Summarizing four decades of successes, scandals & cultural milestones in two hours

The Celebration tour will pay tribute to Madonna’s four-decade career. Madonna had never toured without a new studio album to promote. She has never given a greatest hits concert. The tour seems to work to reinforce the artist’s musical legacy. Not only is she responsible for the highest-grossing tours in history, but, with the Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990, she invented the pop concert as we know it today: a theatrical event divided into acts, combining both songs and visual spectacle .

After a 40-year career, she allows herself to be nostalgic and recognize her accomplishments. How will she distill a wide catalog that includes so many personal reinventions? It was common for her past tours to follow her character of the moment: new age techno on Drowned World Tour, disco diva on Confessions Tour, ghetto colorism on Hard Candy, the sad after-party muse of MDNA. But how will she combine them all in a concert that lasts about two hours?

How to retell her beginnings

If this review of her live career were chronological, which doesn’t seem likely, Madonna could start with her most successful song on Spotify: “Material Girl,” from her second album Like a Virgin (1984). Its resurgence is thanks to Tiktok and Stranger Things, which featured her in a scene. In its day, the song did not reach number one in the most important markets (it stayed at number 2 in the United States and number 3 in England). But it’s perhaps her first big song, because it gave Madonna a nickname – she was known as the Material Girl for decades – and a legacy to destroy (several songs from Ray of Light, 1998, and American Life, from 2003, dedicated themselves to annulling that reputation).

Madonna on her Virgin Tour, 1985.
Madonna on her Virgin Tour, 1985.Michael Ochs Archives (Getty Images)

Madonna was presented as a blank canvas on which to project the fantasies of a decade. Her first album, Madonna (1983), achieved moderate success. It presented her to the world as an irreverent disco diva. She could sing about going on vacation (“Holiday”) as well as burning with sexual desire (“Burning Up”). But it was Like a Virgin (1984) that began to build her character: the eponymous single, her first number one, introduced us to her love of double meanings in her titles. “Material Girl” gave her as much satisfaction as headaches when, in the following decade, she wanted to shed the label. She has only sung the song on two tours in almost 30 years, although in 2022 she released a cover of the song as a duet with rapper Saucy Santana, in which she clarified “a materialistic girl is not tasteless.”

The Madonna that we know now

Her first album (Madonna) became a hit. Her second album (Like a Virgin) was a runaway success. By the time True Blue (1986) was released, Madonna was already a superstar. Recorded during her first year of marriage to Sean Penn, True Blue is the mold in which Madonna herself was cast. “Papa Don’t Preach,” the song that launched that album, is one of the strangest in pop history: a danceable number about a young woman who confronts her father because she refuses to have an abortion. Family planning associations criticized the singer, who endeared herself to conservatives, both parties seemingly oblivious to the possibility that the singer was simply claiming the right to choose. In any case, in the video clip for the song, directed by James Foley, Madonna invents her first meme: the T-shirt with the phrase “Italians do it better.” Almost four decades later, an independent Los Angeles music label called Italians Do It Better ended up releasing an album of Madonna covers in which “Papa Don’t Preach” was an icy, whispered ballad, as if that woman so sure of bringing a baby into the world in 1986 was not really sure of doing so in 2021.

Madonna and Sean Penn, then married, in 1987.
Madonna and Sean Penn, then married, in 1987.Ron Galella, Ltd. (Ron Galella Collection via Getty)

La Isla Bonita,” another Madonna classic included on this album, was first offered to Michael Jackson to become part of his album Bad. Here, Madonna’s career begins to intersect with Jackson’s, as she reaches his league.

Madonna climbs into the pulpit

True Blue sold even more than Like a Virgin. Her fourth album, Like a Prayer (1989), was preceded by the single of the same name, one of the songs that Madonna has never tired of singing. The artist has an ambivalent relationship with her own hits: there are some that she has rarely sung again.) The video for “Like a Prayer,” in which Madonna dances in front of burning crosses and kisses a black saint who comes to life, angered conservatives – who realized that perhaps Madonna was not anti-abortion, just provocative – and paved the way for another of her greatest successes. But on the album Like a Prayer, which today appears on several lists of the best in history, there is more than controversy. A revenge song against Sean Penn (“‘Til death do us part”) seems today, after the success of Shakira and Bizarrap, like an elegant chamber piece. “Promise” is an emotional piano ballad in memory of her mother, who died when Madonna was five years old. If she sang it today, at 64 years old and as the mother of six children, the song could paralyze a stadium. For the same reason, “Oh Father” would also be a must if Madonna wants to get personal in the middle of the celebration. “Express Yourself” was the subject of controversy in 2011 when many, including Madonna, considered Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” too similar to it. She came to sing the two songs in a row on her MDNA tour as a taunt towards the artist. At this point, they have a good relationship, and they have the recipe for an epic stadium moment: singing it together.

Madonna gets naked

On the soundtrack of Dick Tracy, Madonna demonstrated something unprecedented: that she was a good singer. Stephen Sondheim’s “Sooner or Later” remains her great exercise in vocal virtuosity today – she performed it at the Oscars – but no one goes on a Madonna tour for her voice. In that soundtrack, as an epilogue, there came “Vogue,” the closest thing to a signature song that Madonna has. If it is emblematic, it is because she herself seems comfortable with it: she sings it, claims it, covers it and honors it. Any other Madonna hit could be left out of this greatest hits tour, but the absence of “Vogue” could cause a revolt.

Madonna on the Blonde Ambition tour, 1990.
Madonna on the Blonde Ambition tour, 1990.Jim Smeal (Ron Galella Collection via Getty)

This song is from 1990, but with it, she closes the eighties to enter a new era in which she decided to play with themes even more provocative than religion: free sex without guilt.

It’s not that singers weren’t sexualized before. But Madonna decided to sexualize herself according to her own rules. In 1990′s “Justify My Love,” the artist lists her sexual fantasies. And when Erotica arrived, the theme continued. Erotica (1992) is actually about love, loss and AIDS, but the public will always associate it with provocation and the book Sex. This album, it would seem, made Madonna uncomfortable for a few years due to the setback it caused in her career, but lately she has claimed it. At 64 years old, she is pushing the same buttons that she did then: those who think that a woman, no matter how old she is, should not talk about her desires.

Madonna dresses up

The period after Erotica is very divisive. For some, she becomes a serious and respected artist capable of sweeping with a ballad. For others, she becomes a bit of a boring songstress. It is difficult for a festive atmosphere to fit anything from the soundtrack of Evita (1996). If she were to choose something from Ray of Light (1998), considered his resurrection and best album by many critics, it should be “Ray of Light” itself, a trance anthem that she recently turned into a electro-minimal-trap anthem, only two minutes long, for the TikTok era. This is one of the intrigues of the tour: will we see the Madonna who in the last two years has tried to capture a new Tiktok audience by turning her hits (“Frozen,” “Material Girl,” “Hung Up”) into pieces primed for cell phone choreographies? Madonna’s skill has always been in not being guided by common sense.

Madonna on her Drowned World Tour.
Madonna on her Drowned World Tour.New York Daily News Archive (NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Madonna’s spiritual era closed with Music, which was already showing much more playful tendencies. Madonna performs and celebrates it whenever she has the chance. Some may think it essential for a greatest hits tour, although her fans would possibly appreciate the inclusion of “Don’t Tell Me,” a sad, evocative, catchy tune whose video caused all the fast fashion stores in Europe to sell cowboy-style women’s accessories in 2000 and 2001.

Madonna keeps dancing

In recent years and tours, Madonna has grown introspective, recalling albums and moments in her career that were less successful but that she values more than some of her hits. Will she remember in this greatest hits concert that in 2003 she released an album called American Life, from which no one except her most ardent followers remembers a single song? On her last two tours (Madame X and Tears of a Clown, the latter a mini-tour with only two dates) she brought back songs from the album. But an audience waiting for the chart-toppers could take advantage of this moment to go to the bathroom. So pulling “Confessions on a Dancefloor,” her return to the charts and a massive success in 2005, will be a better choice. “Hung Up” is a must (let’s just hope it’s not her Tiktok version with Tokischa). And since she has announced that the tour will be a tribute to New York, the presence of “I Love New York” seems obligatory.

Madonna during the Rebel Heart Tour.
Madonna during the Rebel Heart Tour.

In Hard Candy (2008) Madonna continues to dance, albeit to R&B, and it is worth asking whether she will sing “4 Minutes,” which could be considered her last great hit.

A strange blank space

Madonna’s last decade, which goes from MDNA (2012) to today, through the albums Rebel Heart (2015) and Madame X (2019), has left jewels, rarities and discoveries, but hardly any hits. How will she include this last decade in her career retrospective, if at all? If we go by the numbers, Madonna should sing “Gimme All Your Luvin’” (her last single to reach the top 10 on the US
Billboard chart), “Bitch I’m Madonna” (the only resemblance to a hit from Rebel Heart, thanks in part to its star-studded video clip) and “Faz Gostoso,” which became a hit on Spotify thanks to Anitta’s presence. But if anything is memorable about this last decade, it is that Madonna becomes human, fragile and afraid of failure, as shown in “Love Spent,” “Joan of Arc” or “Wash All Over Me,” true hidden gems of this era.

Madonna is reclaiming her legacy by her mere presence on stage. She is going on a tour that, against all odds, will bear no resemblance to the complacent self-homage of other artists her age. Madonna has not been known in the last decade for opening new musical paths, but rather for leaving a path open for other pop artists who are not willing to retire. With a social media presence that makes many uncomfortable – sometimes showing her breasts or inhaling poppers – Madonna is doing what she always did. Once, apart from causing controversy, she also sang. If, on this tour, she does both, we will be able to confirm her return.


‘Women Dressing Women’: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s tribute to a century of great female designers | Culture

The Costume Institute’s fall exhibit at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) pays homage to female creation. Women Dressing Women is a statement of intent that starts with the exhibit’s very first panel. Women designers, artisans and artists have covered the female universe with their designs and different visions of women, always making them protagonists, sometimes turning them into objects but never passive subjects when it comes to clothing. Over 80 outfits from the Institute’s permanent collection are on display, and the exhibit covers the fashion industry chronologically, artistically and commercially. The pieces represent the fashion industry’s two main centers, Paris and New York, including names and labels that connect haute couture and street fashion, and the most refined traditions of the Old Continent, American avant-garde and utilitarianism.

The exhibition, which opens on Thursday and will remain on display through March 3, 2024, starts with a selection of black and white photographs, projected in a loop, showing the work of dressmakers, tailors and seamstresses at anonymous workshops between 1907 and 1962. There are also images of the first timid tests for a client and the first private fashion shows in salons at a time when designers didn’t have name recognition, let alone the planetary fame that they have acquired in recent decades (to say nothing of the attention they’ve received in recent years from celebrations like the great annual fashion exhibit at the Met and the museum’s fashion gala, the event of the spring).

This black and white tribute features the precursors of over 70 women designers, who bring dreams to life with their needles and thimbles. The exhibit traces the lineage of the last century’s most influential women-led fashion houses (although only a couple of them remain today, the House of Dior and the House of Chanel). It features the work of pioneers like Adèle Henriette Nigrin de Fortuny and her Venetian textiles; the exquisite Madeleine Vionnet; Spanish designer Ana de Pombo, one of the last at the French fashion house Paquin (1891-1956); and Elsa Schiaparelli, who led her own brand and was perhaps the first designer with name recognition. Indeed, the latter had an exhibition at the Met dedicated to her in 2012, in which she engaged in an imaginary dialogue with her famous compatriot, Miuccia Prada. Big names (Chanel, the aforementioned Miuccia Prada, Marchesa, Rodarte) do appear in the exhibit, but it highlights unknown women and those time has forgotten, as in the selection of ethereal creations from the first decades of the 20th century.

Vista general de la sala principal de 'Women dressing women', la exposición de otoño del Instituto del Traje en el Met.
A panoramic view of the main room of the ‘Women Dressing Women’ exhibition at the Met in New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The figure of the designer known by name was forged in the workshops where seamstresses, milliners, apprentices and tailors toiled for decades. As an introductory panel accompanying a selection of anonymous photographs notes, “in the centers of French and European fashion, women’s right to dress other women was a slowly won privilege,” since men dominated the industry. It took a long time for female professionals to gain a foothold, something that happened with the deregulation of the guilds. In the United States, however, this vocation was seen as a natural, industrious extension of domestic responsibilities: after all, sewing was an inherently female occupation.

'Women dressing women' (Met, Nueva York)
One of the rooms of ‘Women Dressing Women,’ the fall fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the press preview of the exhibit on Monday, Max Hollein, the director of the Met, explained that fashion created by women has helped empower women, as well as the designers themselves. “This exhibition invites reflection on the vital contribution women have made to fashion from the early 20th century to the present by amplifying historically undervalued voices and celebrating the celebrity they have achieved. The garments on display exemplify the countless women whose contributions were, and continue to be, the lifeblood of the global fashion industry as we know it today.”

Vestíbulo de 'Women dressing women', la exposición de otoño de moda del Met.
The foyer of the ‘Women Dressing Women’ exhibit, which features designs by Madeleine Vionnet, Elsa Schiaparelli and Gabrielle Chanel, among others. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Andrew Bolton, the world’s most influential fashion curator, senior curator at the Costume Institute and the righthand man of Anna Wintour (the all-powerful fashion Vogue editor and architect of the Met fashion gala), also spoke at the press preview of the exhibit. He noted that “women have been central to the success of the Costume Institute since its inception. Its founders include several inspiring women; that’s why the Institute remains dedicated to celebrating women’s artistic, technical and social achievements. They are part of fashion history.”

Vestido de noche de Mad Carpentier, de los años cuarenta.
An Mad Carpentier evening gown from the late 1940s, which is on display at the Met through next March. Anna-Marie Kellen © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

For Mellissa Huber, associate curator at the Costume Institute, the fall exhibition offers an opportunity to “learn the crucial stories of groundbreaking women designers who played a pivotal role in the conception of fashion as we know it. Women’s contributions to fashion cannot be quantified, but our intention with this show is to celebrate the Costume Institute’s permanent collection, which represents the rich history of Western fashion.” As Hollein emphasized, fashion is a symbol of female power and emancipation but also the result of tremendous collective work. Historically, conceptually and commercially, fashion is also the triumph of social progress, a powerful vehicle for women’s social, financial and creative autonomy. As Ted Pick, the co-chairman of Morgan Stanley, a sponsor of the exhibit’s luxurious catalog, points out, “the milestone that three Parisian haute couture fashion houses—Chanel, Dior and Iris van Herpen—are run today by powerful women” cannot be overlooked.

One of the rooms in the Met's fall exhibition, with designs by Ester Manas, Balthazaar Delpierre, Purchase, Millia Davenport, Adèle Henriette or Elisabeth Nigrin Fortuny.
One of the rooms in the Met’s fall exhibition, with designs by Ester Manas, Balthazaar Delpierre, Purchase, Millia Davenport, Adèle Henriette or Elisabeth Nigrin Fortuny. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“The common thread that connects different generations of professional women reveals how subsequent generations have built on and expanded the legacy of their predecessors. The exhibit reflects the intergenerational dialogue between these designers in historical perspective and the talented women who worked with them from a contemporary point of view,” explains Karen Van Godtsenhoven, a co-curator of the exhibition. Indeed, to cite just one example of these silent conversations between the pieces on display, there is the direct thread between Fortuny’s characteristic pleating and Comme des Garçons’ textile origami; the austere scenography makes the connection stand out and reveals the continuum mentioned by the experts who organized the show. There’s a similar connection between Vivienne Westwood’s conceptual punk and the groundbreaking dress with pieces of metal inserted in silk with which the house Vionnet reinterpreted the syntax of ancient Greek ceramic painting in 1924: tradition as modernity and vice versa, along with the eternal aspect of fashion and art.

Indeed, to see one example of this legacy, look at the heads of the mannequins wearing the dresses in the pioneers’ room (the first room in the exhibit): they are topped with the enduring forms of classical Greek columns.

'Theodosia' (ca. 1925), túnica de Maria Monaci Gallenga para su casa de moda, Gallenga.
‘Theodosia’ (ca. 1925), a tunic by Maria Monaci Gallenga for her fashion house, Gallenga. Anna-Marie Kellen © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Rich, Influential And Poorly Dressed: Powerful Men Have A New Uniform

One of the best memes of this year is undoubtedly the photo of Justin Bieber turned into a caricature of himself, wearing yellow Crocs and tracksuit bottoms combined with a sweatshirt and a pink Nahmias cap. And next to him is his wife, Hailey Bieber, looking flawless in an impeccable red strapless Ermanno Scervino mini dress.

Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber and Hailey Bieber in New York in August 2023. Gotham (GC Images)

In the image, Justin Bieber is the personification of the scumbro trend, defined by Vanity Fair columnist Kenzie Bryant, who put together the words “scum” and “bro.” This trend defines the aesthetics of celebrities such as Pete Davidson, Tom Holland and Machine Gun Kelly. What defines this hectic style is an absolute lack of aesthetic coherence; they want us to know that they walked out of their houses wearing the first thing they saw in their closets. What is often striking (and incomprehensible) is that scumbros usually have a partner (like Hailey Bieber) who looks exactly the opposite; their outfits are neat, stylish.

“The strategy, in the end, is that celebrity couples dress alike, something that is accentuated when there are brands involved,” Leticia García, chief fashion editor of the fashion magazine SModa, says. “Everything is marketing, and the construction of the celebrity image is nothing more than advertising. The next step is the construction of the image of the couple, something that seems to me to be a way of stripping people of [their] self-identity.”

Looking disheveled on purpose

Going out looking messy and untidy — compared to one’s partner — is a strategy to attract attention, according to Pedro Mansilla, a sociologist, journalist and fashion critic. This is particularly true when we talk about celebrity couples, Mansilla adds. Famous men tend to do it when they are dating “women who have achieved notoriety on their own merits.”

Pete Davidson
Pete Davidson dressed to go to a premiere in 2022. Jamie McCarthy (Getty Images)

Mansilla points out that this happens primarily in heterosexual couples and adds that it could be due to the so-called bad boy attraction, with his characteristic sins: carelessness, unpunctuality, laziness, etc. There is nothing more attractive than a guy who — due to his status, and thus, power — can dress whichever way he wants, says Mansilla. In other words, according to this new trend (very ad hoc with the Silicon Valley power players who went from nerds to billionaires at the beginning of this century), for a powerful man, nothing is more exciting and vindicating than to dress as if he were powerless.

This style is, in fact, the result of an aesthetic decision. Actor Adam Sandler considers himself, perhaps, the last great purist of the scumbro style, someone who dresses this way out of sheer carelessness. When asked in an interview how he would define his aesthetic, he replied: “A man who opened a suitcase and threw something on.” The difference between Sandler and others — such as Justin Bieber or Pete Davidson — is that he is probably the only one who dresses this way in the most natural way possible. Nowadays, scumbros wear streetstyle brands such as Palace and Supreme, as well as clothing from big brands l Gucci, Versace, and Prada. Their style is more about being perfectly imperfect.

Adam Sandler
Adam Sandler well-dressed for the release of his own movie in 2022. Dia Dipasupil (Getty Images)

Proof that whoever dresses like this does not do it out of laziness, but with absolute intention, is that when a user wrote on X (formerly Twitter) that Diplo was starting to “look like a dude that sells you bad weed on the Venice boardwalk,” the musician posted a screenshot of the tweet on his Instagram profile along with the caption “Goals achieved.” Even Esquire magazine published an article in which it pointed out that celebrities dress “like teenage weed dealers.”

Brands like Balenciaga and Acne Studio have seized on this supposedly chaotic aesthetic. And, as Kyle Dinkjian — who runs the Instagram account JonahFits, which analyzes Jonah Hill’s looks — explained to The Wall Street Journal, this style inspires men who “don’t look like movie stars to get into their own fashion and make it their own.”

“People are tired of the ‘everything goes’” mentality, Pedro Mansilla counters. “Uglysm still dominates, but the sartorial order will prevail at some point. The anti-establishment style is showing signs of fatigue. The dandy is starting to come out of the closet,” he adds.

A new type of narcissist

But do these men really not care about their style at all? “When someone claims that fashion is banal and superfluous, it’s a sure sign that they are a person who thinks they are above the rest,” says García. “People dress not only as a way of expressing themselves, but also out of respect for others.” We must differentiate here, however, between two types of scumbros. One of them is Justin Bieber, who knows about fashion, has been nourished by it and has collaborated, in fact, with big brands such as Calvin Klein. His scumbro style is actually worth thousands of dollars. On the opposite side of the spectrum is something like Adam Sandler, who many Internet users defend for being someone who dresses according to his comfort and his own style. He is true to himself. Authentic.

Pete Davidson
Pete Davidson dressed to go on television in 2021.NBC (NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

“A trained eye should always distinguish those who don’t care how they are dressed from those who do care, but pretend they don’t,” Mansilla explains. “These are the most interesting because, in principle, they set the upward trend. We have become so bored with seeing the integrated that we wish to see the apocalyptic, to use Umberto Eco’s terminology.”

It seems that stylistic laziness is less and less about laziness and more and more about strategy, especially when a closer look at their closets reveals that every garment and accessory is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. If silent luxury has taught us that even the most basic white T-shirt can be a sign of social status, styles like scumbro are not precisely symptoms of passivity, but of careful decisions. Today’s narcissist has mutated: he is no longer just Christian Bale in American Psycho, he has also been spotted wearing sweatpants, a Hawaiian shirt and Crocs.

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How News Helicopters Ushered A Fresh Television Genre In Los Angeles

By Darren Wilson

Fifteen minutes of fame was not enough for Johnny Anchondo. Local television devoted some 100 minutes of live coverage to this repeat offender, following one of the wildest chases Los Angeles has seen in recent years. In that time, the 33-year-old criminal ran a stop sign and caused an immense mobilization of the police as he stole two pickup trucks, rammed into dozens of vehicles at high speed and escaped from at least 15 patrol cars that were hot on his trail for some 12 miles. All of this was recorded by the all-seeing eye in the sky, news helicopters.

“Chases are the best. They are dynamic, they move fast. Things can change in an instant. Sometimes they seem endless from up there,” says Stu Mundel, one of the journalists who have been following events on the city streets from a helicopter for decades. “And I say this from the bottom of my heart, it’s genuine, but I always wish things would end well,” he adds.

News Helicopters Ushered A Fresh Television Genre In Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, chases are now a television genre in their own right. Journalists like Mundel fly for hours over a gigantic urban sprawl of 88 cities with 11 million people. From way up high, they report on traffic, crashes, shootings and fires in the metropolitan area. But few events arouse the audience’s interest as much as the chases through the city’s vast thoroughfares. The police chase starring Anchondo attests to that fact; the video has over 28 million views on YouTube.

The genre was born in this city. The idea came to John Silva, an engineer for a local television station, while he was driving his car on a freeway near Hollywood. “How can we beat the competition?” he wondered. The answer came to him behind the wheel. “If we could build a mobile news unit in a helicopter, we could beat them in arriving to the scene, avoiding traffic and getting all the stories before the competition,” Silva told the Television Academy in a 2002 interview.

In July 1958, a Bell 47G-2 helicopter made the first test trip for the KTLA network, becoming the first of its kind anywhere in the world. By September of that year, Silva’s creation, known as the Telecopter, already had a special segment on the channel’s news program. Before long, every major television network had one. Silva died in 2012, but his invention transformed television forever.

The chase genre’s crowning moment came in June 1994, when the Los Angeles police chase of a white Ford Bronco was broadcast live on television. In the back of the vehicle was O.J. Simpson, the former football star, whom the authorities had named the prime suspect in the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. Bob Tur (now known as Zoey Tur after a sex change operation), the pilot of a CBS helicopter, located the van on the 405 freeway being followed by dozens of patrol cars. Within minutes, there were so many helicopters following the convoy that Tur found the scene worthy of Apocalypse Now. The audience was such that TV stations interrupted the broadcast of Game 5 of the NBA Finals to follow the chase, which lasted two hours.

Motorists wave to ex-football star O.J. Simpson as he flees from the police in the back of a white Ford Bronco pickup truck driven by Al Cowlings in Los Angeles, California, in June 1994.

Motorists wave to ex-football star O.J. Simpson as he flees from the police in the back of a white Ford Bronco pickup truck driven by Al Cowlings in Los Angeles, California, in June 1994. Jean-Marc Giboux (Getty Images)

“It’s a very interesting thing. It may sound morbid, but it’s not. People follow [police chases] because they are like a movie, we want to know how it will end and how the story unfolds: will good triumph over evil? Or will this person manage to escape? We journalists are objective, but the adrenaline and excitement is genuine,” says Mundel. In his years of experience, he has seen how technology has evolved. In the 1990s, people used a paper map as a guide. Today, viewers can see a map superimposed on the images Mundel captures with his camera.

Four out of 10 chases are initiated after a vehicle is stolen. The second most common reason for them are hit-and-runs by drivers who are drunk or under the influence of drugs. According to the Los Angeles Police Department, most fugitives are hiding a more serious crime: homicide, rape or violent robbery. In 1998, only four out of the 350-plus drivers arrested after a chase were let off with only a traffic ticket; five hundred chases were recorded that year.

A growing phenomenon

In 2022, 971 chases were recorded. On average, chases last about 5.34 minutes and cover about five miles, although the vast majority (72%) end within five minutes and do not travel more than two miles. 35% of documented chases ended in crashes with injuries or fatalities in 2022. That figure represents a slight decrease from 990 in 2021. In 2019, there were fewer: 651 chases and 260 crashes.

A few decades ago, authorities tried to reassure Angelenos by claiming that a person had a one in four million chance of accidentally being killed in a police chase of a criminal. “There’s a better chance of being struck by lightning,” the police department estimated. But things have changed. An official report presented in April indicates that, over the past five years, 25% of chases have left people dead or injured. That almost always includes the suspect, but the number of innocent people who have been hurt has also increased.

News Helicopters Ushered A Fresh Television Genre In Los Angeles

News Helicopters Ushered A Fresh Television Genre In Los Angeles

Although there is plenty of material on the street, uncertain times for local journalism have limited coverage. Univision and Telemundo have dispensed with their helicopters in Los Angeles. Fox and CBS have joined forces and are using one aircraft instead of two. For the time being, KTLA, which invented the genre, remains committed to having a helicopter in the air.

The days may be numbered for these televised events. Some metro police departments have asked their officers to stop chasing criminals at high speed for the safety of the public. Instead, they have employed technology with high-definition cameras and drones to chase criminals, as has happened in cities like Dallas, Philadelphia and Phoenix.

The Los Angeles police have said that they are studying the implementation of the Star Chase system in some of their vehicles. Star Chase features a launcher that triggers a GPS transmitter, tagging a fleeing vehicle and allowing the authorities to track the position of the person who has escaped in real time. Another measure under consideration is the use of an industrial-strength nylon net that traps the rear axle of the fleeing car. All of this could yield dramatic footage for the eye in the sky.

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