Friday, October 2, 2009

Hollywood on cycling

In a recent conversation, my colleague Tim pointed out that a number of movies and TV shows (none of which I have ever seen) have goofy main characters who ride bicycles, the bicycle being a symbol of their goofiness: the 40-year-old Virgin, Arrested Development, and Zoolander. He says he has been noticing this over the years.

The only one that I can add is Flashdance, though the bicycle in that movie does not represent the main character's goofiness, but rather her poverty; she is "rescued" by her handsome boss, who drives a Porsche.

That symbolism wouldn't work over here. I know quite a few European business people with hefty incomes who ride a bike to work.

Tim, an American, had all kinds of stories to tell about other fellow Americans not understanding his desire to walk or cycle. He says that one colleague at an old job in Washington State actually gave him a "mercy truck" because he could not bear to see Tim ride his bike to work any longer. His boss also once refused to have him walk over, a process that would've taken only 15 minutes, and said, "I'll come pick you up." (Tim refused and walked anyway only to slow down traffic considerably because of all the people stopping to help him out.) And when he bought a mountain bike to ride around in Afghanistan, fellow US troops ridiculed him. He says he enjoyed the ride anyway.

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