• Jun 9th 2006 at 9:17AM
  • 12


Pixar's new hit (I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess it'll be a hit) film Cars races into theatres today. It looks like director John Lasseter thought the right way to show kids what kinds of people support biofuels was to use a hippie Volkswagen bus (who argues with his military Jeep friend) as the main biofuel proponent. The bus, named Fillmore and voiced by George Carlin, is described by press materials for the movie as a character who "brews his own organic fuel and preaches its many benefits. Visitors can check it out for themselves in the tasting room behind his love-bead and tie dye covered geodesic dome." 

I haven't seen the movie yet, but somehow don't expect the final scene to come down to one of the cars getting the boost they need from biodiesel and everyone realizes we need to use less gasoline. If you see the film this weekend, I'd appreciate your comments on how biofuels are treated in animation land.

[Source: Walt Disney]


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  • 12 Comments
      • 9 Years Ago
      Great, another stereotype for the masses to chew on and spit out. Today's greenies are so much more sophisticated than yesterday's hippies. They are not interchangable...
      • 7 Years Ago
      Must... defend... Fillmore!

      First of all, I've met enough real-life throwback hippies to be able to tell you, folks, they are pretty awesome. My mother's half of that mindset herself and I daresay some of it has rubbed off on me. There's nothing wrong with Fillmore being of that generation, apparently still proudly displaying the thoughts of the time even though they're no longer "trendy" and in fact, often made fun of. I really don't think he cares what people thinks of him -- he still believes in the messages as much as he did when he first put on all those stickers.

      If you guys are worried that he's misrepresenting you, c'mon, give a kids' movie character a break! He's not supposed to be some kind of spokesperson. Washington isn't going to listen to a cartoon character promoting organic fuel, regardless of whether he's a tie-dyed microbus or a military vehicle. But kids WILL listen, and I think kids will find Fillmore a lot of fun. Plus, hey, maybe if we packaged biofuel in big colorful containers with flowers painted on, they might actually sell better. ;)

      Basically, I think he's a case of a truly harmless stereotype. He's earnest, a nice guy, peaceful, truly embraces the cause he fights for... and best of all, Lightning drinks his fuel and sincerely pronounces it "great". (And I have no doubt that was some of what Fillmore fueled him with during his pit stop in the race.) Don't diss him just because he's "yesterday's hippie", man. If they hadn't started the whole thing, I doubt people would even be promoting ideas like biofuel and recycling today. It's not fair to look back on some of the founders of environmental activism and put them down for being unsophisticated or loonies. You're no better than the right if you think like that.

      I love biofuel, I love recycling and I love Fillmore, who loves both these things. (He's got over sixty bumper stickers to prove it!)
      • 9 Years Ago
      Lots of inside jokes indeed. If you blinked, you missed the birds on the wire from the short featured in Monsters, Inc. and, of course, the backdrop to our wonderful Radiator Springs is none other than the Cadillac Ranch cars.

      As for Greenies, I think that bio fuels are really a credit to the "hippie" generation. That revolution certainly is not going to come from Corporate America! So, I think Filmore is perfectly cast, portrayed, and presented. Rock on, Filmore...
      • 9 Years Ago
      Nice throwback to Toy Story with the Dinoco thing
      • 9 Years Ago
      Alex,
      I agree that kids will have no real reference point for the tie-dye and the peace symbol, but these movies are made for adults and children (you're going with your daughter, aren't you?). I don't expect Pixar to go on a green crusade, I just wanted to point out how greenies are (often) portrayed in popular culture. I wasn't trying to be real critical of the film, which I'd probably enjoy if I were to see it. Mostly, I wanted readers to know that the movie has at least a little bit to do wiht green car technology, in case they didn't already.
      And didn't Carlin voice a similar green-type character on The Simpsons once?
      • 9 Years Ago
      Hi, I just saw the movie today -- and I was disappointed with the biofuel reference-- I thought it was just too CAMPY! Making fun a bit of biofuels! BUT in checking the credits on IMDB (Internet Movie Database) guess what I found under TRIVIA -- that the movie was originally going to be about an electric car in a gas guzzling world. I can't find any reference to this elsewhere on the Internet-- anyone have any info. I blogged about this at www.hollywood2020.blogs.com (and please don't consider that a spam note-- it's just to show you the whole quote and correct link which I can't link here. To be honest-- I did not stay until the end of the CARS film -- I was just buying some air-conditioning and taking a gander at the animation -- which is truly amazing!
      • 7 Years Ago
      That is funny!! I never knew this character's name. Now I own a bio-diesel website with the same name called http://www.fillmorefuels.com It was not intentional that the two have Fillmore as the name, but interesting to stumble upon this article.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I completely understand your point about how "greenies" are portrayed in popular culture, but in the Case of Cars, I think it's a great approach to take.

      Kids are gonna LOVE Fillmore, and they'll have been exposed to the idea of an alternative fuel source in a way that is neither preachy nor boring - just fun. That's a very good thing.

      Given that these Pixar films are known for throwing in everything and the kitchen sink (there are always little "inside" jokes and nods in the background), I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see tips of the cap to other alternatives like hybrids, etc. sneak into the film.

      It should be a blast.

      P.S. - Re: The Carlin/Simpsons thing, I honestly can't remember.

      • 9 Years Ago
      Consider the portrayal an accurate reflection of the public perception of biodiesel.

      Yes, it's "ENTERTAINMENT!," and we wouldn't be entertained if our stereotypes were challenged.

      The old jeep should have been the one running on biodiesel, if he was the one representing national security.
      • 9 Years Ago
      I look forward to hearing what you think about the film, and if the animators/writers got in any hidden messages on hybrids, etc.
      And here's where George Carlin played a hippie pot grower on The Simpsons. It's a good eposode.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/D%27oh-in_In_the_Wind
      • 9 Years Ago
      Having seen the movie, lets get real here. ITS ENTERTIANMENT! The scene with Filmore is purely fun, and in light of the times, is a piece of pure current events humor. The fact he banters with a stern Amry Jeep makes it that much more entertaining. (Who hasn't seen that one play out before :) Now, for the deep philosophical take: It does, just so happen, that in an attempt to help save a desolate, old Route 66 town (aka Detroit auto insustry as a metaphor, and the American dream of a past era) Lightining McQueen (note the Steve McQueen reference) fills up with "Filmore's" (Fill- more get it) biofuel to get him back to the Interstate and his final race to win the Piston Cup. He also buys Tires from an Italian tire shop owner obsessed with Ferrari, Gets a paint job from "Ramone" a hispanic paint and body shop owner, repaves a section of Route 66, and brings a media barage to the small town by his presenece there, giving much needed PR to the small town. So, getting philosophical, the film is really like a plug for the old American way of life, from an era when neon, tailfins, Route 66, simple ideals, Hudson Hornets, and Ferrari ruled the dreams of most Americans. It is interesting how boifuel seems to be the thing that helps Lightning get back on his feet. Furthermore, also note that lighting rejects the Dinoco fuel sponsorship, in order to stick it out with the small guys that gave him his big break "rusteze". A small comment on the lack of loyalty among star/sponsor relationships for sure.

      But come on here folks, we could analyze this movie to death, or just enjoy its entertainment value, and coincidental character naming and "car" related quips. I vote for that. :)
      • 9 Years Ago
      In fairness, Sebastian, Cars is about entertaining parents and kids (and selling tys, towels, pajamas, toothbrushes, cereals, etc.) than it is sending a message about the benefits of alternative fuels. To that extent, I expect it to be a massive success.

      That the Fillmore character exists as a nod to biofuels is in itself a nice victory for proponents of that approach, regardless of how he's portrayed. Keep in mind that "hippie" has no meaning to the under-10 set who's gonna eat this up all summer. For them, there is no negative connotation, and kids being kids, their spongelike memories will store every single detail about him, including his alternative fuel source.

      I plan on taking my daughter to see it Sunday. I'll check back in afterwards.
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