Detroit does get a bum rap. I'm more than familiar with the negative stereotypes of shrinking cities. I appreciate the challenge of branding a region. However, the carping about ruin porn is absurd. The images of dying and depressed Detroit are the same ones inspiring a generation of urban pioneers.
Ruin porn captures the beauty in urban blight. I feel inspiration when viewing what some people are labeling pornography. Whatever the photographer intended (e.g. critique of capitalism or suburban sprawl), I have a deep emotional attachment to these landscapes.
I don't have a problem with the photojournalism, either. The story told is no different from the one in "Detroit Lives" as related by the urban residents. The focus of the latter group is more about revitalization, but many of shots are exactly the same as the ones dismissed as ruin porn.
The film does succeed in recasting ruin porn as Rust Belt Chic. The camera connects the ubiquitous photographs of Detroit's Grand Central Station ruin to the burgeoning hipster scene in the city. As Aaron Renn argues, Detroit has a globally recognized brand. There is no such thing as bad publicity.