I am going to be saying the word “Fargo” a million times in this blog post. Bear with me.
As you’ve probably heard, the movie Fargo turned 20 this year. The film came out in either March or April, depending on which release date you celebrate. One question my co-workers and I kept coming back to as we thought about what to do for the anniversary was: What did Fargo think about the movie Fargo? What were the popular opinions of the city from the people who lived here during 1996? How did they feel about our humble, quiet community now being thrust into the “spotlight” by a film that doesn’t necessarily portray our city in the best light? What were those popular opinions of the people who lived through it then, and how did those opinions change.
We have to remember that when Fargo came out in 1996, the city of Fargo was a very different city compared to Fargo now. Great Plains Software (acquired by Microsoft in 2001) was still owned by Doug Burgum, the Fargodome had just opened in 1992, and the Fargo Theatre just started renovations to restore it to what it looks like today. And Fargo was a lot smaller. The metro area population at the time was less than 174,367 compared to an estimated 233,836 today.
The movie brought us some much wanted attention. As Cole Carley puts it, “Google didn’t exist in 1996.” The movie was something that was going to put our name in big, bold, red letters all over the world without the help of current-day social media. This was the best publicity the city could ask for. However, it came at a price. The movie is a dark comedy which pokes fun at our laid-back way of living, causing us northerners to be the butt of jokes for the next couple of decades.
In Fargo After Fargo, I wanted to begin a discussion with the people who lived through it: residents of Fargo young and old, people who loved the film, people who hated the film, people with businesses that have capitalized on the name Fargo, and people who love our city but don’t like what the film does to our reputation. I wanted to finally ask the question,”What did the people of Fargo think of Fargo when the film came out, and how do they feel about it now?” These questions and more are answered in this short film, Fargo after Fargo.