Last Friday our local art theater (cunningly named the Art Theater) offered a late-night screening of Speed Racer. Now, I own the DVD and even have the movie in permanent storage on my iPad, but I went anyway. Leaving the aside the rarity of seeing it on the big (well, biggish) screen, I figured that if I wasn’t going to support Speed Racer, who would?
As it turned out, there were several die-hard fans in the audience, none of whom were old enough to have seen the TV show back in the day. So that was nice.
What occurred to me while watching Speed Racer again was that–as the title of the post suggests–it warrants a critical reappraisal by the Occupy Wall Street crowd. This is, after all, a kids’ movie that’s all about the little guy standing up to the strong-arm tactics of a corporate conglomerate.
When Speed Racer debuted, some reviewers were critical that a heavily-merchandised movie would argue against capitalism over art. I don’t see any hypocrisy here. For one, it’s not as if the film is railing against action figures and Happy Meals; the corruption on display is that of corporations fixing race results in order to manipulate stock prices. Besides, isn’t the subversiveness of using Time Warner’s vast financial resources to tell such a tale worthy of appreciation?
As John Goodman’s character says:
I’m feeling more intimidated than impressed. This kinda company scares me. People like you have way too much money. When someone gets that kind of money, they start thinking that the rules everybody else plays by don’t mean squat to them.
Sound familiar to anyone following the news these past few years?
Look, I’m not saying that Speed Racer has a deep or profound message. But the fact that a movie which by all rights should be nothing but monkeys and exploding cars even bothers with a message at all ought to be worth something. And if a few kids begin to consider the possibility that the world they know may be nothing but the machinations of great powers, that’s good, right?
While I’m on the subject of Speed Racer, I want to give a shout-out to J.P. Trostle’s Speed Rally blog. Since last June, he’s been engaged in an exhaustive review of every car designed for the film. Like so much of the Internet, it’s an excessive amount of information about a very limited subject, and therefore very impressive.