In the above video, comedian Louis CK talks about how, despite modern advances in technology, human beings are more miserable than ever. He makes strong points in favor of going back to the Stone Ages, or at least the 70s, when we had rotary telephones. He claims that having our needs met instantaneously has only made us more angry and less appreciative, that our expectations for immediacy are unwarranted and unhealthy.
As a counterpoint, I bring to you the trailer from the painfully suspenseful 70’s film Aloha Bobby and Rose. I share this with you because it is a slice of life from thirty years ago, more or less, with rotary telephones and coffee served in styrofoam cups, in an age when littering was still a completely legitimate way to dispose of refuse.
The storyline is not completely clear in the trailer, however, so I shall summarize. It’s about a ’68 Camaro. It has no speaking part, and, unlike David Hasselhoff’s KITT from the 80’s Knight Rider,it has no soul, no mind of its own, and yet it is in every scene of the film, either as a subtle backdrop in which the dialogue is almost important, or as an action figure itself, performing donuts in front of dumbfounded cops. It is a symbol of the fashion and the ground pounding badness of the of the time, with little regard to the burgeoning gas shortage, emitting instead a brute and primal 8-cylinder sexiness completely lost on the Prius.
There is a secondary plot to the film, not immediately obvious, and that’s how the film’s protagonist, Bobby, a rebel with feathered hair, finds himself in deep doo doo with the Mexican Mafia because he lost a round of pool and he’s hard up for cash. Then he meets this girl, Rose, who wears embroidered jeans with a waist line up to her armpits, and they accidentally kill two people in a botched liquor store robbery (to pay off the Mexican Mafia), and then, what do they do, they run off to Mexico in Bobby’s Camaro.
I know, it’s predictable, and I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, so I will instead jump straight to my point, which is that all of the problems in the film could have been avoided if Bobby and Rose just had an ATM card and/or a cell phone — modern conveniences of our time, in other words — though my vote would be for an iPhone.
If Bobby just had an ATM, he could have told the Mexican Mafia, “Hey, I’m short 80 bucks, so I’ll just walk to the ATM machine.” While he might not have had enough money in his account, he likely would have had overdraft protection. Added fees be damned, his and his buddy’s physical well beings were on the line, and I think the fees, whatever they might be, would be worth incurring.
Even without the advent of the ATM, if he had a cell phone, he could have, at a minimum, called his buddy the next night to say, “Look, I just messed up a liquor store robbery and two people are dead, I’m wanted for murder, I’m probably not going to make it back to the pool hall tonight, can you handle the Mexican Mafia on your own?”
As I think about it, in these delicate social situations, probably a text would be more succinct, again affirming my argument in favor of the iPhone: “Killed 2 peeps, r u cool on ur own?”
While running from the law, Rose could have called her mother, or at least sent her an e-mail, so she wouldn’t worry.
In short, this story could not happen in modern times. Everything would have been resolved with a mere push of a button. There wouldn’t have been the misunderstandings. Lives would not have been lost. There would have been less misery.
It would have been a much shorter film, and we could just watch the Camaro do donuts, and likely be just as entertained.