Hollywood, Bike Messengers, and the New Economy
Kidder, Jeffrey L. (Jeffrey Lowell), 1977-
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The sociological study of popular cinema provides an analytic entry point for exploring how economic realities are given meaning through cultural products. In this paper, I compare how two Hollywood movies about bike messengers, Quicksilver and Premium Rush, position their main characters in relationship to the new economy. Both films provide commentaries on work and social class, but, as products of unique socio-historical periods, I argue that their commentaries differ significantly. Produced in the 1980s, Quicksilver uses messengering as a form of middle-class redemption, allowing the protagonist to return to the world of capitalist finance. By contrast, as a product of the Great Recession, Premium Rush offers a utopian vision of self-determination for low-wage service workers at the same time that it reifies the uncertainty, unpredictability, and riskiness that increasingly characterize American labor. I also show that both films converge in their portrayal of women and working-class blacks.