Up in arms over ''Falling Down'' -- Laid-off workers are offended by the Michael Douglas film

By Tim Appelo
March 12, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

People are up in arms about Falling Down. First the Korean-American Coalition blasted the week’s top-grossing film for its portrayal of minorities — a prime target of Michael Douglas’ character, an unemployed defense worker who goes on a gun-toting tirade. Now jobless defense workers are protesting. ”We issued a laid-off workers’ survival guide, and street fighting is not one of the tips,” says Bill Souveroff of the National Center for Career Change. Souveroff also worries that Douglas’ ”cartoonish flattop and pocket pen protector” will stigmatize all defense workers.

Actually, Douglas’ outfit was inspired by the manager of the grocery where director Joel Schumacher shops. ”What I tried to show is that everyone’s angry,” says Schumacher. ”Roseanne is No. 1 because we’ve all become experts at giving attitude.”

Exactly what Warner Bros. was counting on. Originally planned as an upbeat HBO film, the movie got closer to Schumacher’s ”mad as hell” vision of America with the studio’s full cooperation. Warner publicity chief Robert Friedman says there’s an easy way to find out whether the movie’s diagnosis of the nation’s ire is true: ”Just go into any store and ask if you can use the restroom.”