Netflix’s Fastest Car premiered earlier this month and it was a triumph in democratizing speed. It showed that owning something fast wasn’t just limited to wealthy supercar buyers, anyone could build up their car and go toe-to-toe with an exotic. All of that was well and good, the show just got some of the finer parts of car culture wrong.
In my initial review, I pointed out the mis-use of the term “sleeper car,” which was by itself very confusing. For non-car people, it had only served to introduce a term incorrectly. For car people, it was just cringe-worthy.
But the big, shall we say, injustices, came down to the general portrayal of the car community and car culture. Redditor Evo180x actually touched on a few great points in a recent post about the movie.
Here’s their first point:
The “built not bought” mentality: seriously? I get it, you put a lot of “blood, sweat, and tears” into your ride, mad respect. But there was a lot of the same going on for the money saved up to obtain said super car... so can’t we just respect both the cars that were built and the cars that were bought? I may have time and space to work on my car, while your situation may be better for buying an already fast car.
Either way, let’s enjoy both cars.
One of the ideas that the show incessantly hammers into you, over and over again, is that the people who bought their supercars were the Bad Guys. The builders kept repeating this sentiment, vilifying those people as if they were somehow less of an enthusiast as someone who built their car.
Sure, there are people out there who buy the Lamborghinis and Ferraris because they just want another expensive accessory. I’m not saying those people don’t exist. And it’s also a mistake to assume every owner of an expensive car “worked hard” to get it, because there are plenty of wealthy people out there who never worked for shit.
But the particular supercar owners that appeared in the show could be considered enthusiasts just as much as the “sleeper car” owners were. These owners clearly loved their cars and had interesting things to say about them. Making them out to be the villains or so-called lesser enthusiasts served really no purpose, except maybe for the sake of some pretend-drama on a Netflix show.
Evo180x’s second point touched on winning. Yeah, we all know Dominic Toretto’s “winning’s winning” spiel, and while winning is important and all, it’s definitely not the whole point of car culture:
EVERYONE is going to win... they spend the entire episode saying that they’re going to be the winners, no other possibility. Except with a race of 4 people, there HAS to be 3 losers, so why put so much emphasis on winning and 0 emphasis on fun? It’s not like they’re getting anything valuable out of winning, so why aren’t they just doing it for fun. But “street cred” is important! Seriously? If we’re going to say street cred has any value, we’re never going to evolve and mature the car community, cars are a passion and a culture and we should use that to bring us closer together, not push each other apart and become salty at each other.
It’s true: Winning seemed to be the ultimate end goal in Fastest Car. Indeed, the show is literally called “fastest car,” implying some kind of superlative here. But many of the drivers featured had never raced before; how, then, could winning be their greatest desire? When it came to winning and hearing talk of winning, it really felt like the drivers were fed lines about how much they loved to win, how much winning mattered to them.
And then they got mean to each other about it. Snarls of, “What a dickhead” and “Motherfucker” were softly uttered at other drivers pulling up to the race with their cars on trailers as they were sized up. There’s good-natured ribbing. And then there’s this. This negativity doesn’t paint these drivers in a very good light.
Obviously, winning is important. But winning wasn’t something that people made a point to keep yammering about during the numerous meets, races and shows that I’ve been to. There, people got more excited about their cars, sharing notes, stories and information. The talk at these events centered largely around appreciation and admiration.
We car enthusiasts are already a lean enough bunch. We don’t need more reasons to hate on each other and create more bogus differences.
I watched the first two episodes of Fastest Car and it staled quickly for me after that. I clicked through the remaining episodes to see if the format stayed consistent and I watched the finale to see who would win. And I while I did enjoy seeing all the different builds, what frustrated me most of all was how some of the most unsavory car culture stereotypes somehow made it to the screen.
“Because I’m a street racer, when somebody talks shit to me, there’s my car. What do you want to do?” said one driver during his intro. What, dude? Being a street racer doesn’t make you a badass, it means you put others in danger so you can get your fix. This is not something we should be glorifying and it gives car enthusiasts a bad name. We are not all meathead street racers!
Another driver, when gearing up for his race, said,“All I need now is a red Ferrari driven by a female with big boobs and I’ll be fucked... let’s hope it’s not a female.”
Is this attitude still extremely prevalent in car culture today? Maybe, in pockets, but I’d wager that if you walked around saying stuff like that, you’d be an outlier. This attitude right here is largely what is keeping more women from getting into cars. For too long, the car industry has been a boys’ club of macho men like this fine specimen here, whose masculinity is so frail that if a woman beats him in a drag race, he’s “fucked.” But it’s not the majority attitude. Netflix makes no such distinction.
It’s not lost on me that this guy’s character could have been played up to contrast with the Ferrari owner, Lisa Clark. Clark is an amateur racer who has made it her mission to help inspire women to play a bigger part in motorsports. She said, “If I can just make [a] little girl feel like, ‘Hey, I’m a girl and I’m doing this, you can do the same,’ [then] it’s a great feeling.” That’s great!
I know that the automotive industry has been getting better for women as a whole. More and more women are being hired as engineers, designers and racers. But we’re far from being done. We still have people who assume that if a woman shows up at a meet with a cool car, it belongs to her dad or her boyfriend, not her. We still have people who will question a woman’s car knowledge or will be extra hard on her to try to test her.
It’s pretty discouraging to see Netflix let such a troglodyte statement like that make it into its final cut of the show. Doubly so that he just said that and then nobody called him out for it.
It makes me ask who this show was really for—the enthusiasts, or the casuals? Car people or reality TV fans? Judging from the comments you left on the review, it doesn’t seem like it was for us. The show had some truly awful stereotypes (and incorrect sound dubbing) that we felt gave us a bad name, which probably doesn’t make our culture that appealing to an outsider.
Put it this way: If you watch this show with a non-car enthusiast and find yourself apologizing and having to explain that no, this is not what car culture is all about, then something here is being misrepresented.