While Toby Harriman is probably a very nice guy, he has stepped into a snake’s nest of controversy by naming his latest film “Gotham City SF.” Sure, his film is an amazing look at the San Francisco Bay Area by night, but that’s not going to hold back the nerd shit-storm for long.
As anyone who has ever read the Batman comic can tell you, Gotham City is actually just New York City. According to writer, Bill Finger, in the Steranko History of Comics, “changing the locale from Manhattan to the fictional Gotham City made the setting of Batman more vague.”
So while the name Gotham is technically fictional, it’s still actually New York City, and that’s why Gotham is forever synonymous with NYC like “The Big Apple” and numerous other NYC nicknames.
Calling San Francisco Gotham is like saying Batman is Clark Kent — it’s just wrong. But is Toby simply trolling the Interwebs? Is he perverting the meaning of Gotham for shock effect? Sadly, no. To Harriman, the word “Gotham” isn’t a place, it’s a look:
Several years ago (2012) while exploring my passion for black and white photography I found myself wandering into a look I call ‘Gotham’.
What…?! Sorry, Toby, what you call “Gotham” is simply what normal people call “Black & White.” I mean, you can’t just appropriate words to mean other things. I don’t go around saying I invented a new ice cream flavor and call it “Toby Harriman,” it’s just not done, man!
Regardless, the film is pretty impressive and well worth a look. Just grab yourself a pint of frozen “Toby Harriman” at your local grocery store, sit back, and enjoy the show.
View photos and full project at GothamCitySF.com