Ecomobilities examines the ideological connections between automobiles, the environment, and the end of the world, focusing on the car’s inseparability from modern life. Through popular films addressing both mobilities and environmental disasters, Ecomobilities reveals how American automobility has influenced responses to warming temperatures and shifting ecosystems.
Michael W. Pesses is professor of geography at Antelope Valley College.
Introduction: Driving the Anthropocene
Chapter 1: Method
Chapter 2: “So Shiny So Chrome”: Images and Ideology of Humans, Machines, and the Earth
in George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road
Chapter 3: Machines Precede the Climate: The Technological Fix
Chapter 4: Zombies and the Horror of Not Having a Car: Apocalyptic Stories as
Chapter 5: “I Hope You Have a Big Trunk ‘Cause I’m Putting My Bike in It”: Alternative
Transportation as a Reinforcement of Capitalism
Michael W. Pesses uses critical theory and a variety of films—from The Matrix to Mad Max to Pee Wee’s Big Adventure—to help readers make sense of the impenetrable fog created by our ideology surrounding car-dependency. This book is a valuable read for anyone seeking a joyful yet critical look at contemporary American car culture and our challenged response to climate change.
In Ecomobilities: Driving the Anthropocene in Popular Cinema, Pesses gets to the heart of why we haven’t been able to ‘just give up our cars’ to save the planet from climate change. Written with both insight and humor, Pesses guides the reader through the films we think we know, instead showing us how the ideology of American automobility permeates their stories, and in turn, shapes our daily lives. As a master class in the application of cultural theory to car-centric storytelling, Ecomobilities offers new and complex ways of interpreting how the automobile structures social relations. These ways of understanding our enduring and affective attachments to the automobile are crucial to imagining what ethical life—for humans and nature—can look like in the Anthropocene.
This book hits all of the points for a perfect teaching book. It provides a comprehensive and accessible introduction to foundational thinkers and ideas in cultural studies, it uses popular film texts as the vehicles through which to explore the concept of automobility as US ideology, and it is fun to read. Deliberately challenging the binary between automobility and environmentalism, Pesses’ rich analyses allow the reader to dive into the paradoxes and pleasures of American car culture in the form of a guided tour through popular cinema.