Greetings from Carter’s America! Good Times Had Watching “Breaking Away”

March 22, 2010

I had a number of thoughts watching “Breaking Away” the other day, and there doesn’t appear to be a truly logical way to concatenate them, so you’ll have to settle for something in between a notes post and an outline (and no, I don’t generally write with outlines—though I did recently start holding my pen between my index and middle finger).

1. “Breaking Away” could only have been made during Carter’s America and, as such, can be considered emblematic of Carter’s America. Consider the context: weak employment market, declining industries/natural resources; the entree of Globalization (here: Kids pretending to be Italian and later French; the beginnings of expanded presence of foreign cars); and most importantly, the energy crisis.

A used car salesman tries to tell a customer that a car gets 30mpg (in the words of Walter Sobchak: hardly, dude), while the sport the film takes as its subject matter is bicycle racing. Movies about fringe sports are great (see the great rowing epic, Oxford Blues), but they don’t come about very often, and the sport has to be chosen with great delicacy. Crew works for Oxford Blues because most Americans think rowing is elitist and old fashioned, but in that charming way that the Brits rock so well.

Bicycling works for the late 70s because no one has any money for gas.

2. What fringe sport represents today’s America? Or, what sport would a film about Obama’s America feature? The movie(s) and sports that best represented the Bush era were “The Dark Knight” (torture) and “There Will Be Blood” (pursuing Oil! at all costs). But Obama’s America?

Clearly the sport of choice would have to be curling. Cricket is too Netherlandy while trivial pursuit is too erudite. No, the answer is curling. Perhaps fat schlubs team up with Wall Street bankers to defeat Communist North Korea in the final? CNBC will broadcast.

3. Pretending to be Italian only works in the mid-West. Especially if you have a bad fake accent.

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One Response to “Greetings from Carter’s America! Good Times Had Watching “Breaking Away””

  1. Nathan Says:

    Role Models is an Obama era movie about Larping, a decidedly fringe sport.


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