“A slick businessman (Travolta), family-guy dentist (Allen), computer nerd (Macy) and hen-pecked writer wannabe (Lawrence) escape from their mundane lives every weekend by taking their Harleys out for a spin. They call themselves the Wild Hogs, and in a moment of middle-aged angst decide a road trip from their home in Cincinnati to the California coast is just what they need. So off they go. Minor mishaps ensue until they get to New Mexico and run afoul of the hothead leader (Liotta) of the feared Del Fuegos biker gang.” (Shadows on the Wall.co.uk, 13 March 2007)
Of course I went. They made the movie for folks like me, a baby boomer who used to bike to school. Okay it was a Honda 70, a cup-chai (baby-bike), but so what? There was that night that twenty of us made up a cup-chai convoy and buzzed Youth Park. Ah… those were the days…
Wild Hogs gets a one thumb up from me. Gets the requisite laughs. (Has a homophobic sub-text for whatever reason.) Nice night out with the Mrs. Nothing special.
The only part of the movie that caught my eye and my mind was at the end of the show while the credits were running. In a spoof of Extreme Makeover: Home edition, the members of the “feared Del Fuegos biker gang” are brought to tears when they see that their destroyed club house has been replaced by a beautiful new one, stocked with every material comfort imaginable. The gang members weep like babies.
Message? Give people enough nice stuff and they forget their need to be free. Who needs to go on the road and get bugs in your face when you can stay at home and watch those bugs on large screen HDTV? Even Captain America (Peter Fonda) from Easy Rider (1969) now makes cameo appearances for the laughs and the bucks.
Baby boomers cannot watch Wild Hogs and not think of Easy Rider. Apart from the bikes and the quest for freedom parallels, remember the Peter Fonda character throwing off his watch before setting off on his journey? The Hogs throw away their cell phones. Even the most “duh” among us should get the hint. Remember Easy Rider. And weep.
Easy Rider was a low budget movie that captured the mood of those who were increasingly cynical of a materialistic establishment that demanded conformity. It became an iconic movie for a generation that sought freedom from materialism and moralism, through sex, drugs and rock & roll. With its shocking brutal ending, Easy Rider reminded us that choosing to walk an alternative route came with a heavy price.
Wild Hogs tells us that the establishment won. They didn’t even have to kill us. They just had to wait and buy us out. 60s hippies are now stock brokers driving beemers. All you need to tame a wild biker gang is give them a club house stocked with all the toys that money can buy. Ah, the sweet victory of the consumer market economy.
I will be the last person to knock the good things of life. Just went to Borders yesterday to get my weekly book fix. Am plonking out good money to watch Spiderman 3 tonight. Poverty is no fun.
Still, it disturbs me somewhat when I hear people say they are so glad that they found Jesus because Jesus has given them the faith to get a beemer. Is that what life is about? I always come back to Paul’s exhortations at the end of 1 Timothy 6.
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.”
Paul does not assume that everyone will be rich but he gives clear advice to those who are. He is no spoil sport. He assumes that enjoying God’s blessings is part of life. But he is also quick to warn that true life is not built around money and the things that money can buy. True life is built around a proper relationship with God, a relationship that sees life as a stewardship on behalf of others. There is nothing wrong in enjoying the good things of life, but I must also respond to the fact that 25,000 people die of starvation everyday.
There is no command here to chase riches. But if riches do come do not build your life around it or become proud. Enjoy what God has given but make sure that we share what we have with those in need. True life then is a life rooted in God and lived for others.
So if you want to experience true life, whether at 15 or at 50, and whatever the state of your bank account, here is the answer. And it has nothing to do with Harleys or road trips.
Trust in the Lord and do good. And do it in the company of good friends. Wild Hogs got that part right.
Still, after watching Wild Hogs, I itch for one more road trip. Chong, Thye, think we can get our hands on some bikes? Cup-chais? 125s at least? And one more trip round Penang island? Honey, can I go?
Born to be wild….