Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bombardment Society Founder

Somehow, this commercial for General Motors' Hummer captured my imagination years ago, back when gasoline was abundant and affordable. I loved its exuberance, and of course, the Who track tugged at my heart and made me chuckle. I saved an episode of Frasier on VHS somewhere, merely because it contained this advertisment.

So when I first watched auteur Wes Anderson's sophomore film Rushmore for the first time on DVD and after the hype died down, the opening montage pulled me in the same direction. The film has become one of my favorites (along with Anderson's The Royal Tennenbaums). The British Invasion music is there, as is the go cart and the whimsy. It is one of the great movie opening sequences because it succinctly introduces the character of Max Fischer, Rushmore Academy's ne'er do well who dances along the edge of expulsion, finally teetering off in a wild fandango.

I think I could do worse than raise my son into a Max Fischer, even though Max Fischer is a failure of sorts and, in a sentence, "one of the worst students we've got" at Rushmore. Come on, he's not the lacrosse captain, but the equipment manager. He founded the Bombardment Society, thereby lending gravitas to the playground game of sham battle. He is only ever seen dressed in his alma mater's crested blazer and, once expelled and stripped of it, he has to struggle to rediscover his own self-image. But he succeeds in that struggle, thus, in my opinion, erasing all his earlier failures.

Except for a brief episode of self-doubt, Max is ever the optimist. He is the high school playwright and director who figures out how to involve pyrotechnics in his productions. He launches a petition to save latin. He is the Boy Who Would Not Bend. I respect that. In fact, contrast him to a pre-Lost in Translation Bill Murray, a self-made, self-loathing millionaire who first makes Max a protege, then competes with him for the heart of a young school teacher. Neither of them win her, that would've been weird, but who wages the more effective fight? Why, Max, of course.

Yes, I'd like my son to be the lacrosse captain, although knowing his old man, he won't be. But I'd like him to be Something Else, and I know he will be that.


M.Lane said...

A fine goal. And one that I share.

Great post. I'm going to revisit the movies also.


brad said...

Hummer? Feh!