Speed as an allegory for Capitalism
December 27th, 2009 at 00:35
Last night, I watched the seminal action-thriller film Speed, starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, and some other famous people. Obviously this isn’t the most cerebral thing that I could have watched – Hamlet was on today. But it did make me think – given the millions and millions of hours academics waste studying Shakespeare and reading too much into it, I think they’ve missed something. If only they’d stopped examining Hamlet from a post-modernist perspective, and had instead looked at Speed, they would have spotted the most obvious commentary on modern capitalism I’ve ever seen.
Think about it – the bus being unable to stop is a comment on capitalism’s need to constantly move forward and grow, and the jeopardy of the bus exploding is a metaphor for if the capitalist system slows down, the world economy will explode – taking many innocent civilians with it. No one being able to get off the bus is just like how it’s impossible for anyone – or any one country – to opt out of global markets and the capitalist system – because of the hold capitalism has upon everyone, whether they like it or not. Anyone who does try to escape – like one of the passengers – will just get destroyed for trying, not through the fault of the other participants in capitalism (the other passengers), but by the structure of the system itself.
Reeves’ saying “The bomb is big enough to blow a hole in THE WORLD” is not the clunkiest line in cinema history – far from it – it’s actually remarkably prescient, and is actually a commentary about the importance of capitalism in world society. If we were to lose capitalism overnight, society would break down.
The gap in the road that the bus has to jump is a metaphor for the occasional crisis that capitalism faces – and the extraordinary steps that are required to get past it (like bank bailouts).
The villain, an ex-cop out to make money is an allegory for the profit driven nature of the capitalist system – and the corrupting influence of money. The good guys in the film are the governments of the world – trying to correct the inadequacies of the free market and counter-balance the unfettered profit-driven motives of private industry.
And of course, Keanu Reeves’ wooden acting is an allegory for the destruction of trees and other natural resources in pursuit of consumption and the bus never stopping.
Look out for my thesis, Pop Quiz Hotshot: Speed, Society and Capitalism, in the new year…Post to: [ del.icio.us ][ Digg it ][ Furl ][ Netscape ][ Newsvine ][ reddit ][ StumbleUpon ][ Yahoo MyWeb ]
Categories: Economics & Money, Films, Silly Stuff |