Four out of five moviegoers last weekend went to see “Spider-Man 3,” which is pretty convincing proof that despite all the blather about fragmented, niche marketing driving the American media, Americans are as capable as ever of acting as a mass audience.
During the summer, when such behemoths like “Spidey3” block out the sun, some movie fans might be wondering just exactly all this escapist entertainment is trying to escape from.
Well, here’s one example: If you subscribe to the theory that a little rage makes the blood run faster, check out the new-on-DVD film “Who Killed the Electric Car?,” an astounding documentary that offers a disturbing contrast between capitalism the way it is espoused in this country and how it’s really practiced.
The film tells the story of the EV-1, a GM-manufactured electric car that offered for lease only in California in limited numbers in the late 1990s. The car was completely battery-powered and those who drove them, many of them celebrities, spoke of them in rapturous terms. A few years later, GM not only dumped the EV-1 program, it recalled all of them it had leased and then destroyed them. The EV-1 is now extinct, except for one prototype on display at a museum in Dearborn, Mich. Just before the film was released last summer, the Smithsonian took down its exhibit on the EV-1.
The film never really addresses why GM made such a radical move, but its speculations dovetail with the widely held belief that the kind of crony capitalism dominant in America right now is designed to protect profits of entrenched interests, even if it violates the capitalist principles of competition and consumer demand.
I hear you, I don’t need another thing to be cheesed off about either. But with gas pushing toward $4 a gallon and global warming moving quickly to reality, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” makes for a balanced diet alongside “Spider-Man 3.”