Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Prologue to My "Fast and Furious" Journey

No longer able to ignore what an unstoppable cultural force it has become, I've decided to devote this week to watching every movie in The Fast and the Furious franchise and blogging about it. This is no small feat for me, given my preference for indie films, period pieces, musicals and other traditionally "gay" genres. I also have little to no interest in cars, car racing or car "souping-up." But I'm very interested in irresistible pop culture phenomena, and so I feel a duty to investigate this phenomenon to see what makes it tick.

The first step was merely procuring the videos. I assumed this would be the easiest part of my journey, but I was soon disabused of that notion. Netflix was a dead end, offering only a black-and-white movie called The Fast and the Furious that appeared to date from the 1950's and also seemed to revolve around a car subculture.

Taking for granted the widespread availability of DVD's for rent or bargain-basement purchase, I left little time yesterday to find a copy of 2 Fast 2 Furious, since my friend Tim already had the original. The Uptown Cheapo had one copy for $15. I flipped through all the discounted and recent arrival DVD's in the hope that I wouldn't have to shell out $15 for a movie that even fans of the series consider rather poor.

Unfortunately, my search came up empty, and I dropped the $15 so I could make it to Tim's by 7. It's a testament to the decay of our video techno-structure that I had to pay that much just to, in effect, rent a mediocre, mainstream film. I don't want to turn this into an expose on the creeping decrepitude of our society, but, considering my beliefs and perspective, it's bound to keep leaking into the narrative.

I got to Tim's by 7, and we exchanged some pleasantries before starting the first movie. I should mention that Tim is far from a completist in his adoption of cutting-edge technologies. He accused me of being a Luddite (a label I should've cheerfully embraced), but his consumerist habits betray his own flouting of the civil religion of Progress. Among these are his inscrutable penchant for boxy Volvo station wagons from at least 20 years ago and his refusal to subscribe to cable TV or any video-streaming service, instead relying on over-the-air channels, a second-hand VCR, DVD player, VHS tapes and DVD's.

In this sense, we don't seem to be in The Fast and the Furious's target demographic, but, on second thought, maybe we are. There's certainly a DIY ethic and anti-authoritarianism to the franchise. Perhaps the central theme of the series is "hacking" the mainstream to find fun and meaning in a society that is increasingly resistant to upward mobility. (I told you my pessimism would keep leaking in.) We shall see.

(I'll be posting my reviews of the first 2 movies later today. Stay tuned!)

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