View From Abroad: Most Newsworthy Part of Hollywood Shooting Rampage Was Witnesses Who Thought They Were in a Ryan Gosling Gangster Movie
When many Angelenos heard about yesterday's random shooting rampage at the busy intersection of Vine and Sunset, their first thoughts were about their proximity to the intersection. It went something like this: I was there. My boyfriend was there. I work near there. I almost went there (and I'm so glad I didn't). I go there all the time: what is this world coming to?
But if you were from out of town the view looked different: A shooting in Los Angeles — doesn't that happen all the time? No one even died? Only one person was hospitalized? How is this even news? The New York Times ignored the incident and the New York Post basically snored.
That changed when The Los Angeles Times spoke with a witness Greg Watkins, who said he thought that the shots were coming from a movie set, since he was in the heart of Hollywood. "When I heard it, I didn't react to it being real," he told the Times. "This is Hollywood, and they do film stuff all the time [...] I honestly thought they were filming something." Other sources (including us) noted that the LAPD cop who eventually shot the gunman was working on a film shoot nearby, but we were paying more attention to what was actually happening and less to which movie it was.
But the film shoot nearby became the story for international press that did decide to run with it: witnesses to a shooting rampage in the middle of Hollywood all thought they were in a Ryan Gosling gangster movie.
The Brits really took it and ran, managing to make Angelenos look like airheads — even during a really scary shooting. The Daily Mail in the UK had the headline: "Gunman who fired live bullets into crowds on Hollywood street was mistaken for actor in gangster movie filmed nearby." The headline for The Daily Mirror was "Gunman runs amok in Hollywood but 'excited' passersby think it's part of a film." (Down in Australia The Sydney Morning Herald managed to wait until the second paragraph to highlight how surreal a real-life shooting was in the middle of Hollywood. Reuters also patiently waited until the second paragraph.)
The Daily Mail highlighted this gem of a quote as a kicker: "Witness: 'I was like dude they're shooting at us.'" And it probably had the most over-the-top Hollywood-referencing lede: "It was like an action scene from a movie with bullets flying on a Hollywood street, pedestrians ducking for cover and then a fatal shootout. But the drama was for real with one man lying dead after being shot by an off-duty police officer working on a nearby film set."
The Daily Mirror said witnesses were, like, having fun at first: "A crowd watched in excitement as the 26-year-old man drew a gun then walked down the street firing at cars."
And perhaps it's Nick Denton's British background that explains why Gawker had the best out-of-towner line about the shooting (even if it was in a correction): "The shooting occurred on Vine near Sunset Blvd., not Hollywood Blvd. as we previously reported. That corner isn't so much the Crossroads of Forgotten Dreams as it is The 'Jack in the Box' Parking Lot of Broken Promises. We apologize for any confusion."