I picked up the DVD "Cars" for my niece and nephew's Thanksgiving turkey coma viewing. When I originally saw the film in the theaters, I was struck by how much it represented many of the ideals of Independent America: the virtue of the slow lane on America's secondary highways, and a nostalgia for strong, self-sufficient community (Radiator Springs of an age long passed).
I also remember thinking that the town bore a passing resemblance to one of our favorite stops, Seligman Arizona. Paying close attention to the credits, and watching some of the DVD's bonus materials, I now know that the filmmakers spent considerable time at the knee of Angel Delgadillo, the "Guardian Angel of Seligman." He was the town patriarch who saved Seligman after it was bypassed by Interstate 40 by promoting the history of this Route 66 throwback. Here's our videoblog entry from Seligman.
And delving further into Stacy Mitchell's terrific "Big Box Swindle," the following passage bears relevance to this post. Mitchell uncovers a few federal studies conducted in the late 1940's to examine the impact of growing corporate consolidation on public policy.
Communities that possess a degree of economic self-reliance more competently care for themselves, while concentrated economic power threatens civic participation and democracy.
...[T]he studies were ignored and even actively suppressed...Instead, postwar policy was built on the idea that big business was more efficient and therefore would provide higher incomes and thus improved social welfare.
What followed was the very "military-industrial complex" that so concerned President Eisenhower (ironically fueled by his federally-funded Interstate highway system that undermined downtowns and gave rise to suburbs, shopping centers and corporate retail).
So I'm always heartened to receive e-mail even today, on Thanksgiving, from people like Steve and Dianne in Ellenville NY. They want to show our film on December 4th to raise awareness about the importance of buying local as they face the possible construction of a Wal-Mart supercenter. He may be a corporate Hollywood creation, but animated race-car Lightning McQueen would be proud....