Five years is one ninth of my life. Five years passes rapidly. I suppose that when five years is a half or a third of your life it seems like a massive amount of time. As we age the percentage diminishes, yet it is still five years. Time is both absolute and relative. A year is still 365 days, 365 revolutions on an axis like a Bakugan silently and steadily spinning its ellipse around the sun. At precisely the same time, that year can flash by for one person like a blink, vanishing while another person feels like the interminable year shall never end. Within our own frame of reference the year can feel like a meteor hurling through time or it may feel like a restrictor plate caps the speed at which we desire to travel. Maybe the restrictor plate keeps us safe, preventing the Earnhardt effect.Maybe not.
I know enough about NASCAR to have heard the chatter about the mandated restrictor plates. The superior teams and drivers get shackled and slowed down to make it more fair for the teams that lack ingenuity, funds, collaboration, innovation and just pure moxie. And how does a restrictor plate work? Bolt a four inch aluminum plate between the carburetor and intake manifold and impede the flow of oxygen and fuel to the engine. It’s a bit, a choke, a gag and a professed safety mechanism. Officials contend and mandate the use at the super speedways and tout that they prevent high speed crashes (Allison, Petty, Irwin). Ironic then that the very best restrictor plate driver in NASCAR history, Dale Earnhardt, died at Daytona. The Intimidator mastered the art of high speed, congested racing by tapping and crashing out his competitors. The restrictor plate and Earnhardt made NASCAR a team sport of drafting and strategically cherry picking off your foes. Crash them out, pile them up and sling shot out of the pack unscathed is a masterful fete. You don’t have to be a Southerner steeped in the Honor Code to understand the fisticuffs and fury between winning and losing drivers when the victory is won through skulduggery.
NASCAR’s restrictor plate may reduce the number of horrific high speed single car crashes but many argue that the restrictor plates force “pack racing”. The drivers all bunch up and the multicar crash rate has skyrocketed. Realize…..these cars are still moving at 200 miles per hour WITH restrictor plates. You know what that tells me? Some innovative, hungry competitors have diligently and aggressively tweaked and manipulated everything on either side of that restrictor plate and managed a work-around. The ultimate finger! You think you can limit me, hold me down, tether my reins, keep me back here with everyone else? I hear that scene in The Incredibles, when the parents eagerly cheer their son, Dash….for winning second. It would be cruel and mean and UNFAIR to let it rip and just be himself because then he’d OWN every single race – and that would just be mean.
How do you figure that? He’s born fast! He’s not cheating. And the kid that beats Dash may or may not know the truth…but Dash knows. It’s a false and hollow victory. Dash knows he can best everyone. But he’s supposed to deny this? Hide it? Keep it secret? What a shitty message! It’s the WRONG message. The honest, responsible and ethical lesson that Pixar and Disney missed – repeatedly misses – is teaching how to take the natural and undeniable GIFTS we are given and use them for the betterment of ALL. Teach children how to accept themselves (and others) without coveting, jealousy or rebuke. Teach kids how to accept they just aren’t as fast as Dash…..and likely won’t ever be….but that doesn’t mean they should never run, never try.
Instead, they teach homogenization and dilutional equality. And they train the gifted to think that by being smarter, faster or stronger hurts everyone else’s feelings. Really? I think every child knows at their core that this is a false lesson.And yet, we swallow it. Why? Because we crave the affirmation and the “love” of the very person(s) telling us to hide our true selves.
Dash beams at the end of the movie because his father and mother watch from the stands and FINALLY cheer his second place win. Yeah! Dash get their public pride by being……less of himself….because ALL of Dash it just simply TOO MUCH.How about teaching Dash to run fast, run true, be himself, be prepared that other people will hate his speed, may even seek to destroy him, capture him, harness him….but that he better not let his speed go to his head…because while he is FAST he won’t ever be INVISIBLE.