Cars and Bikes — Sin and Repentance in Two Classic Films
One of 10 Things I wish I’d Blogged in 08 — Ok so this little list of quick posts to mark the new year is becoming things I hope to get to in 09….But I will get through this list!
Anyone who actually knows me will attest that, notwithstanding this blog’s royal pretensions, I am normally quite humble. But one thing that will get me in a righteous lather is America’s reliance on the automobile — a reliance that is at best accepted thoughtlessly and at worst with a pathetic surrender.”Yes, I know it’s terrible, but there is just no alternative.”
Yes, I think that driving an automible is a sin — a sin defined as that which keeps us from God. And yes, if it makes you feel better, you can call me hypocritical because I am not able to eliminate the automobile completely from my life, and frequently find myself behind the wheel of a car. Though I’d call myself not a hypocrite for that, but a sinner trying to repent. And the fact that circumstances drive me to sin does not make me less a sinner.
I would like to develop my reasons for actually believing that driving is a sin in some detail in a later post, but here let me simply state that it is the usual sort of problem we humans have — too much power, not enough wisdom.
For now, let two excellent films stand for the argument. The case against the automobile is brilliantly made in the classic Disney cartoon “Motor Mania,” in which Goofy embodies the problem of too much power, too little wisdom. As hilarious and sadly true now as when it was made in 1950.
The virtue of the rider and bike is evident in Erroll Morris’s brilliant ad for Miller Beer and “alternative fuels.” Yes, I know there is a jingoistic “screw the rest of the world” subtheme to this — but when Americans by the millions abandon their cars for bikes we will earn the right to our splendid isolation. And yes, I know that Miller Beer is not a wonderful product — I have no real defense there. But maybe it’s because I have been riding through the snow all through this beautiful winter. Or maybe because I am a lot closer to this Joe Six-Pack with in his khaki shirt and pot belly than I like to admit; I have no illusions that the sight of me in my spandex riding tights can provoke anything but laughter. Whatever the reason, I just can’t help loving the the stoic determination on the riders face and the campy righteousness of the text. Campy or not, there’s a lot of repentance in this true patriot. And there is nothing — I think really actually nothing — that would do America more good than if everyone who could would get out and stay out of their cars as much as possible.