Nice analysis of cars in films


Originally published at:


That was fun!


What an excellent explainer! And you are right; turning on the CC subtitles really does help.


Now I have a Duran Duran earworm in my head. Thanks Boing.


Nicely done, but it might have mentioned that the fetishization of cars as powerful and freeing was (though of course literally true for young people) helped along by the then-might of the US auto industry=American economic might, plus the expansion of the highway system in the 1950s.

Also, seeing some of these long shots of cars driving through a landscape makes it seem as though the car has replaced or else stands in for what was once the person in the landscape?



Just like guns, cars feel good to use. And that visceral enjoyment somehow seems to override every other bad effect they have on our world. It’s become politically impossible to regulate or restrict anything having to do with either.

And the only acceptable way to talk about this, it seems, is to celebrate the dominant life form on the planet. (Not like Ford Prefect’s mistake I mean, but the corporation.)


‘Red Fury’ was my very ironic nicknamed for car #2, my college-era POS. But, I was the only one in my circle of friends with a running car, or the knowledge/stubborness to keep a car running.


several clips from Everybody Wants Some
none from Dazed and Confused
this makes no sense.


Same here, and mine was 4wd, so it became the tow vehicle for late-night snap-the-whip in empty icy parking lots. I’m still amazed nobody was ever seriously injured.


I had a college classmate come back from Xmas break looking like he’d been worked over by a thug. Nope! He was ‘street-skiing’: Hang onto the back bumper of a car and ski the black ice. …then the driver saw a cop and made a hard left…



There’s an underutilization of the potential to use cars as a creative motif to explore petroaesthetics, petroculture and petromodernity in general: the automobile and the burning of the petroleum makes up a significant fraction of the total cause of climate change, linking the freedom of mobility enjoyed by some to climate damages incurred around the world. Should we feel guilty for enjoying the car’s aesthetic qualities, given its ubiquity in American life? What would that mean?


To admire/denigrate cars on an individual basis based on their petroprofligacy would mean we would need to admire the dirtbag who perpetually tinkers with the car while it is immobile, and denigrate the hippie who keeps rolling around in the belching ill-maintained POS that trails engine fluids in its wake.


I mean, you’re not even covering moving the economy to the petrodollar and the constant warfare to keep the oil flowing. Nor the significant impact of the infrastructure not only on ecology but as a detriment to civic planning and unity, not to mention it’s use in outright blatant segregation.
Despite all this, I am still acculturated to think that cars are cool. Not “cars” generally, which makes me think of a traffic jam loaded with Toyota Tercels, but a '64 Continental is noice.
There is probably no way that personal transportation is going away no matter how unsavory it is in toto. That’s a political non-starter and culturally it just doesn’t make sense. But if we can mitigate the worst parts of them (paying the real cost for parking, e.g.) we could reach a better equilibrium. There isn’t any money to upkeep this vast road infrastructure that we built when money was flowing. So I think market forces themselves may do some of that for us. But the spending will likely be cut from other stuff to keep the roads going as long as they can rather than invest in anything sustainable, I fear. Makes one weep for the interurban rail infra that was gutted early in the 20th century, particularly the Great Lakes area.


“…a traffic jam loaded with Toyota Tercels…” I just spent the day at the Science Museum’s ‘Free Day’, my visual cortex dancing with after-images of dinosaur fossils and mineral specimens…and then you had to throw a dog turd in the punch bowl. BLECCCCHHHH! I’m going to have to go out to my car to retrieve my new book on Native American art. Yeah, public transportation is nice for commuting, but I’ve never had a job anywhere near where I lived, in all the different states where I’ve lived. Have you ever had to help one of your broke-ass friends move via bus? I tell ya, other people complain about strangers talking to them on the bus, but no one would even make eye contact with us.

…also, bus drivers get peeved when you try to bring lumber (or,probably any other construction materials) on the bus. FYI.


A bus driver once banned me from coming on the bus with a hacksaw until I hid it away in my bag. He still knew I had it, but once it was no longer visible it was somehow ok.


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