Public Parking
A journal for storytelling, arguments, and discovery through tangential conversations.
A history of violence: revisiting ‘The Cars that Ate Paris’, 1974
Thursday, January 14, 2021 | Christopher Michael
The film’s themes of violence and class segregation are especially interesting when considering the suburbanization that took place in Westernized countries in the 1970s. In the United States and the United Kingdom, this was a decade of “white flight”: white families with disposable income fled urban centers, leaving people of color and the working classes behind in rapidly decaying—that is, overcrowded and underfunded—cities. This was largely aided by expanded access to cars for the middle classes, as well as city planning that prioritized cars over public transportation—and thus the middle- and upper-classes over the poor. Public funding went toward making city centers more accessible to those who were able to commute from the suburbs—with several highways built to bridge the gap to and from suburbia. This furthered an already splintering class divide. This context for The Cars That Ate Paris’ release in 1974 is significant: the elite Parisians’ pride in their rural town, which is entirely reliant on cars, can be read as synonymous with their upper-class interests.