Imitations of reality are always on the verge of taking over the mundane world. They become either easier to construct in mass culture, or they are harder to spot. The original of anything is hard to find any more. Things that are viral become the placeholder for the original. It’s one thing to become singularly obsessed, but when things multiply, obsession can move forward in amazing geometric progressions. In conversations about movies, a certain amount of knowledge really is power. This is probably because knowledge has to reflect experience, when it comes to something as tangible as a car.
In terms of movie stars and movie cars, that’s not the worst thing that could happen. Top ten car movies are the perfect kinds of lists that make everyone want to talk, revealing that this singular obsession has been haunting all of us for some time. Movie cars are cool. Almost everyone wishes they could drive one. It’s also not impossible to get close, to drive something very much like a favorite car from a favorite film.
One of the more appealing things about a movie car, then, is that it has an essence that is entirely original, like the Trans Am Burt Reynolds drove in “Smokey and the Bandit.” But it is also one of many other Trans Ams, and part of the appeal for the viewer is that there is a possibility, even if it’s terrifically remote, of driving one someday. Even if the version of the famous car is not exact, no one will know that the intro wheels may not match the ones from the film. It isn’t necessary to make an exact copy, only a decent approximation.
This is why some car movies have more staying power than others. There’s a kind of divide in the culture that keeps running tabs on favorite cars on film, and the divide is somewhere between Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Bullitt. In the former, there is a dream of a fantasy machine, but in the latter, the fantasy is possible, because one can conceivably ride a mustang in this lifetime. But there are also divides based on cost. Most car fanatics understand that it is unlikely to drive a James Bond car without access to a very rich relative, but lots of relatives have owned a Dodge. And it’s entirely possible to find an old version of a cool film car, get a friend to help with a new paint job, and find a match for the general tire, and suddenly an imitation of life becomes as good as the thing itself.
December 8, 2011 at 11:59 pm Comment (1)