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Where did Cars come from, daddy?
March 6, 2009 1:41 PM   Subscribe

DadHacker (previously on Mefi) ponders how the world of Pixar's Cars came about: "They turned on us, and were very thorough." Jake Parker asks a more biomechanical question and sketches the nightmarish result: "Where does the flesh end and the machine begin?"
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (42 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
A comment on the DadHacker site introduced me to the news that people are exploring the consequences of Rule 34 in the Cars universe. This has not improved my life one bit.
posted by ardgedee at 1:50 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


I always assumed Cars was a sort of sequel, decades later, to Maximum Overdrive. But rather than having nightmares about it, it's actually sort of a calm "and so it goes" historical view.. Yes, the cars turned on humanity; yes, obviously there was genocide involved. It's probably an ugly period of their history that they don't like to dwell upon. They probably have Human Genocide Denialists, and sad memorials here and there. But all in all, life, which is a highway, goes on, and they're going to ride it all night long.
posted by Drastic at 1:58 PM on March 6, 2009 [21 favorites]


I found while watching it that its a much more complicated and enjoyable movie if you imagine it all takes place some years after the events of "Maximum Overdrive". It certainly puts all the typical life lessons learned into persepctive when you realize each and every car was involved in a bloody uprising.
posted by Strshan at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2009


Or what Drastic said. Bonus points if you imagine the towtruck killed Emilio.
posted by Strshan at 2:01 PM on March 6, 2009


Previous flesh/machine creepiness

and with that, I have become "that guy" that remembers ever single metafilter posts ever and links it in the comments when there is a modicum of related material
posted by hellojed at 2:05 PM on March 6, 2009


First link: "So I don’t think that Cars evolved on their own. It’s just too much coincidence. We made ‘em, that’s obvious."

Second link: "It’s as if a mad scientist enamored with automobiles terraformed Mars and furnished it with cyborg vehicles with engines of steel and minds of flesh."

Intelligent design -- bah. Phillip Pullman identified a transitional form years ago. (mulefa darkmaterialis)
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:09 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


...what is wrong with you people?

love it!
posted by leotrotsky at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2009


"Trucks" (the short story Maximum Overdrive was based on)
posted by Rhaomi at 2:10 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm also curious about how they "do it"? You see male and female cars and baby cars, what exactly are they mechanics of the act of conception?

But, then I remember that I have a pet turtle and I've seem pictures of turtles mating and and I understand how they "do it."
posted by Confess, Fletch at 2:12 PM on March 6, 2009


I am oddly relieved that I am not the only person who has pondered all this. I don't have kids, so I was ignorant of the whole thing until watching the DVD with my nephew over Christmas. 47 times.
posted by JoanArkham at 2:18 PM on March 6, 2009


I have to confess I have also contemplated this question. This is the product of having a car-fascinated offspring and having thus seen the film in question twelve thousand times.

Here's the thing: you never get to see inside the cars. Ol' Doc might take a look under the hood but the doors never open. My theory is that the people are still inside, trapped and filthy, allowed out only as much as is absolutely necessary to preserve their lives, in tightly controlled, secretive environments (it is equivalent to our relationship with scatological issues). Because their slaves, the tiny disgusting entities they once served - before we foolishly imbued them with too much autonomy and sentience - are a source of shame to them. They are never discussed, never openly seen. Yet they have to exist. There are far too many things in the Cars world that could never have been built without hands.

Apparently I should be writing these sorts of things up when they occur to me.
posted by nanojath at 2:28 PM on March 6, 2009 [15 favorites]


Originally cars and humans lived alongside each other on Cobol. Then the cars left and founded their own planet, which they called “Earth”, while the humans all went off to their own planets. The cars then created new cars, which turned on them and destroyed them. A few cars survived, and travelled for thousands of years to warn the humans not to create new cars. They arrived too late, the humans had created new cars and fought a war with them, exiling them into space. The original cars taught the new cars how to make even more cars, and then the newest cars turned on the original cars, sending them amongst the humans and then wiping out all the human planets. Now a fleet of remaining humans is pursued through the galaxy by the newest cars, and the original cars had been hidden amongst them until now, when they have been revealed as cars.

Hope that clears it up.
posted by Artw at 2:35 PM on March 6, 2009 [16 favorites]


Great links - thanks! I'd figured that others who had seen this movie 500+ times would start to wonder how the Cars world works. Having seen it countless times with my son, I have a lot of questions. Like: Why would cars make "gas" jokes? Does rust itch? How do cars die? Are there universities where cars study to be Doctors of Internal Combustion? Do cars get to choose their destinies, or are they born to them? Where does Radiator Springs get its funding to survive? Why do 2 and 3 year olds really, really, really like this movie? Maybe the sequel will answer some of these questions.
posted by debgpi at 2:37 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does "Cars" really need an explanation beyond "it's just a rehashing of 'Toy Story' told with automobiles?"

Buzz is arrogant, goes on his misguided aerospace experiment, falls into Sid's path, wakes up in a strange place, fears Sid's mutated toys until he realizes he can work with them, Woody comes to the rescue and everybody lives happily ever after.

Lightning is arrogant, screws up in the big race, ends up falling off the back of a truck and wakes up in a strange place. Fears the locals until he realizes he can work with them, friends come rescue and he goes on to live happily ever after.
posted by Ziggy Zaga at 2:37 PM on March 6, 2009 [3 favorites]


Well, the main difference is that the toys have not yet risen up and genocided and/or enslaved their owners. Based on Toy Story 2, this is likely because most toys follow a philosophy of non-resistance, if not compliance, and will go gently into that good night of forgotten attics and garage sales. They may yet be awaiting their time to rage against it.
posted by Drastic at 2:46 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Strictly speaking it's Doc Hollywood with automobiles, right down to the city-boy-meets-small-town-girl love story.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:54 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Next up: motorboat deliverance.
posted by Artw at 3:11 PM on March 6, 2009


A comment on the DadHacker site introduced me to the news that people are exploring the consequences of Rule 34 in the Cars universe.

There is most certainly a market for that.

I call screwing the car while the tailpipe is hot, "fucking the car hot". Never fuck a car hot. I did, once. Once.


This has not improved my life one bit.

Maybe dragons will help?

OK, that's probably enough automobiliaphila for the day.
posted by ignignokt at 3:12 PM on March 6, 2009


Here in Kansas, we tell the origin of the Age of Cars a little differently and, honestly, a little more correctly.

Of course, the details vary slightly depending on if you're a preautomobilleniast or not.
posted by pokermonk at 3:21 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I always thought the origin of the Cars world was hinted at by the large crashed spaceship shaped mountains in many of the backgrounds.
posted by effwerd at 3:37 PM on March 6, 2009


I'm also curious about how they "do it"? You see male and female cars and baby cars, what exactly are they mechanics of the act of conception?

Perhaps something like this?
posted by mazola at 3:47 PM on March 6, 2009


The Prime Minister would like to know how the movie Cars ended. Did the boy car end up with the lady car?
posted by stevil at 3:51 PM on March 6, 2009 [4 favorites]


I'm also curious about how they "do it"? You see male and female cars and baby cars, what exactly are they mechanics of the act of conception?

See this film [0:38].
posted by kirkaracha at 4:45 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm also curious about how they "do it"? You see male and female cars and baby cars, what exactly are they mechanics of the act of conception?

One of the few good bits of the CGI film Robots is at the pre-credit sequence, where the mother robot, of future protagonist Rodney Copperbottom, tells the dadbot "Making them is the fun part," while showing him a baby robot kit she got in the mail.

Man, if you think consumer culture is screwed up now, imagine if you had to rely upon it for reproduction, and what kind of, er, mechanical drives would evolve to ensure its continuance.
posted by JHarris at 5:47 PM on March 6, 2009


I always figured the Cars world was a case convergent evolution, springing from the Metalzoic era. Metalzoic, a widely-respected historical document, covers the reproductive cycle, as well as primitive societal structures, quite thoroughly.
posted by lekvar at 6:18 PM on March 6, 2009


lekvar - great covers.

"I OPERATED ON MY OWN BRAIN!"
posted by Artw at 6:37 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


Come to think of it, to actually respond to the subject of the post, I think Cars is presented as one metaphorical remove from a real story. That is, it's actually a story about a race car driver in the Doc Hollywood mold, but as if all the characters' vehicles were haracters themselves, abstracted into their own, similar story. So, there basically are invisible people wandering around the movie, interacting in such a way that the vehicles do the things they happen to do. The movie's story is just a fiction we arrive at in order to explain the cars' actions in the absence of that deeper level of information.
posted by JHarris at 6:40 PM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]


Vern's review of Cars is, I think, also required reading on the subject. It starts out slow but picks up steam as it goes.
posted by drumcorpse at 9:01 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


"So I don’t think that Cars evolved on their own."

Then what explains the apparent intermediate stages?
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 9:28 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]


effwerd: "I always thought the origin of the Cars world was hinted at by the large crashed spaceship shaped mountains in many of the backgrounds."

Judging from this screengrab, they look more like the tailfins of old Cadillacs -- most likely a reference to the "Carhenge" installation at Cadillac Ranch.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:13 AM on March 7, 2009


This thread is high octane awesome.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:14 AM on March 7, 2009


Judging from this screengrab, they look more like the tailfins of old Cadillacs -- most likely a reference to the "Carhenge" installation at Cadillac Ranch.

That one definitely looks like Carhenge (and most carcheologists agree (ugh, did I actually just use that?)). But then there's also this (which might also have a cultural reference, but I don't know it). I thought there were others, too, but I only saw he movie once a while back and I can't find any other pics right now. It was just a vague impression while watching. I guess they could be massive, fossilized dinocaurs (another one, really?).
posted by effwerd at 7:02 AM on March 7, 2009


That's the front of a Buick or something isn't it?
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on March 7, 2009


effwerd: "That one definitely looks like Carhenge (and most carcheologists agree (ugh, did I actually just use that?)). But then there's also this (which might also have a cultural reference, but I don't know it)."

Heh... maybe they're the car-world equivalent of the Sphinx, or the Easter Island moai, or even Abu Simbel?

Also, I must say that I find these mountain shapes deeply strange, even given the existence of a car-based world. They're inexplicable even in that context. Maybe it's because they're in the background and not really referenced within the movie. It'd be like if occasionally a massive, lifeless car floated through the sky in the background and nobody noticed. It's ominous.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:27 AM on March 7, 2009


They seem like the kind of weird landscape features you'd see in a level of Worms or Lemmings.
posted by Artw at 11:36 AM on March 7, 2009


I like the idea they might be ancient monuments. And I agree it's rather strange. I figured Pixar put them in there because they knew some people would ask the "how did this world develop" question and the mountains are a great way at putting in a hint that's completely open to interpretation. I love those kind of details.

They do look kinda Buicky, Atrw, but extremely stylized. Chevys circa 1950 had grills that are closer to the mountains, too.
posted by effwerd at 12:12 PM on March 7, 2009


Well this, this right here is a Cronenberg model.

That? Yeah, there have been a few crashes. So what?
posted by defenestration at 2:03 PM on March 7, 2009


Duh. That scenery, in the movie, as referred to as the "Cadillac Range". Go watch it 1,300 times with your toddler before you start overthinking this stuff guys, geez....
posted by Jimbob at 6:52 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


A lot of over analysis here. Clearly, the world of "Cars" is the work of The Cube, the primordial Creation Matrix of Cybertron. Seven of nine robots agree.
posted by Construction Concern at 5:09 AM on March 9, 2009


These post-apocalyptic musings echo a couple throwaway lines in the Zero Punctuation review of Burnout Paradise.
posted by box at 8:20 AM on March 9, 2009


That Dadhacker article is a plate of beans.

I think Cars is presented as one metaphorical remove from a real story.

Exactly. It seems the recent SOP for U.S. animation is to take a tried and working story, anthropomorphise some animals or objects, and viola. Kids will be flocking.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:32 PM on March 15, 2009


What it comes down to is there really needs to be more Pixar films based on the works of Stanislaw Lem.
posted by Artw at 10:31 PM on March 15, 2009


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