THE END OF THE ROAD? AN INTERDISCIPLINARY ANALYSIS OF AMERICA’S CAR CULTURE AND ITS CINEMATIC REFLECTION AROUND THE TURN OF THE CENTURY
This interdisciplinary analysis of America’s car culture is looking at the contemporary cinematic depiction of the former vehicle of freedom given the increasing dissatisfaction among society that found its public expression in this year’s “Carmageddon”. By combining media and cultural research, this study tried to find out if movies acknowledge the entrapping reality cultural theorists point out. Furthermore, a detailed content analysis was supposed to offer cinematic indicators how this exceptional automotive love affair might end. The analysis of Falling Down (1993), Duets (2000), and Collateral (2004) revealed cultural phenomena such as road rage, America’s carscape causing sameness and dislocation, as well as isolation, passivity, and akinesia. The protagonists appear to realize the car’s physical and psychological impact on their life and they start to abandon the entrapping vehicle – an inspiring observation given America’s increasing efforts in terms of public and alternative transportation.