Citizen Shame: ‘Cars’ drove me mad

I have a brother six years younger than me, and therefore I spent much of my childhood drowning in Wiggles CDs, “Blue’s Clues” (1996–2007) reruns and other things that constituted kids’ entertainment in 2010. The worst of it came when my mother got one of those minivan TVs that only those in the back seat could watch. Too lazy to carry around more than a couple DVDs, my little brother’s favorite movie ended up playing constantly on repeat. That is how I ended up watching the enduring classic “Cars” (2006) nearly 100 times. Ka-Chow!

There are several stages you go through when you watch a movie like “Cars” that many times. As hard as it is for me to look back on this time, I’ll fight through the pain and walk you through it.

Tolerance. I was twelve and felt the need to demonstrate my immense maturity by allowing my brother to enjoy his ‘kids’ movies. I had moved on to more adult fare like watching Rob Schneider comedies when my parents fell asleep, so if I had to watch Owen Wilson voice a motor vehicle, it would be alright.

Questioning. Were the adults who decided to make the cars talk sober? Why does the character Mater, voiced by iconic artist Larry the Cable Guy, make me want to sort of run my eyes over with a cheese grater? How incredibly upsetting is it that one of the screenwriters died in an actual car accident during production?

The Tractor Tipping Scene. My brother had a particular part of the film that somehow spoke to his 4-year-old mind and made him giddy: the scene where the characters go tractor tipping. If you’re unfamiliar, imagine cow tipping except with tractors that also moo and then imagine excruciating pain, and combine them. Once my brother discovered the scene selection menu, the tractors did not stop tipping. Driving to school? Tractors are tipping. Heading to basketball practice? Tractors are tipping! Long car ride? Tractors! Are! Tipping!

The Pain Takes Over. Slowly, “Cars” appears everywhere in your life. Even when you see the school bus as it comes to pick you up from school, you nervously check to make sure it will not start talking. Your friends seem to be living normal lives, but you can’t explain to them why you dream only of autonomous NASCAR races and of that little weird Italian car. You realize, in pubescent horror, that you’re sort of attracted to Sally Carrera, Lightning McQueen’s love interest. She’s a car. You’re upset.

Acceptance. You start quoting the movie every time it’s on. You’ve sort of grown used to the comfort of knowing that no matter how your day goes, Lightning and the gang will be there to make you feel at home. You thank your little brother for exposing you to this visionary motorized medium, and when he finally moves on from “Cars” and starts watching other movies, you’re grateful for that time you literally watched a movie about talking cars a hundred times. Ka-Chow.