Monday, January 12, 2009

The Desire to Rampage

What young boy could resist this poster? Motor Cycle Savages On The Rampage, for Chrissakes?

At six year's of age, I'm not sure what kind of rampage I was imagining, but it was enough to inspire this crazy hobby of collecting newspaper ad mats. I haven't stopped since.

The pull of imagery like this is difficult to explain. More than anything, I wanted to ride with these guys and cause mayhem. My experience riding anything at that age was on a tricycle that could barely rampage through a glass factory, let alone Billy Jack's home town, but my will was strong.

My efforts to get my parents to take me to this drive-in classic ("An early birthday present, Mum?!") backfired terribly. I was expected to feel grateful that they took me to see 'The Love Bug' instead. I was devastated and became resentful. Herbie was a shocking alternative to Hells Angel-style mayhem, a pathetic, poofterized VW Beetle who knew nothing about rampaging or savagery. Luckily, 'The Singing Nun', Herbie's support feature, started way after my usual bedtime, so I managed to avoid that by sleeping on the back seat while dreaming of chrome and hot leather.

But I never did get over the fact that, as the poster exclaimed, "the film shocked 25 million Americans", but it never got to shock me.

For years afterward, I'd stare at my 'Born Losers' ad mat and plot a terrible revenge on my parents. They never did understand how a six year old could harbor a desire to "rampage" with a bunch of long-haired larrikins on two wheels.

Someone who did understand that desire was George Miller, the director of 'Mad Max'. Take a look at 'Born Losers', will you?, and then stick 'Mad Max' in your DVD player. They're almost celluloid cousins. One thing I know for sure: While I was having Herbie's nonsense forced down my throat and making do with posters of films I wasn't allowed to see, George was sitting at the drive-in watching Billy Jack fight a bunch of Cycle Savages and hatching a homegrown version of his own. Six year old's get no respect, and they never will.

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