Ethics Observations Upon Watching “Ford v. Ferrari”

My son is an auto tech and car enthusiast as well as a lover of speed (sufficiently to get him in trouble), so when he told me that I should see “Ford v Ferrari” and that he loved it, it was no surprise. I knew nothing about the film other than its title: no reviews, no background. My son said he would eagerly see it again, and was our guide as my wife and I attended a New Year’s Day afternoon showing (which was packed, incidentally.)

To get the basics out of the way up front, “Ford v Ferrari” is a wonderful movie. It immediately takes its place as one of the great sports movies of all time (with “Rocky,” The Natural,” “Hoosiers,” “The Bad News Bears,” “Sea Biscuit,” and a few others we could argue about), but it is also just a great movie. Christian Bale is astonishing, as usual, and the rest of the cast is uniformly excellent, as is the direction, film editing and screenplay. It is the best film I have see this year, easily leaving such critic’s favorites as “The Irishman” and “Once Upon A Time in Hollywood” in the dust.  That, however, is beside the point….

Observations:

  • I realized about half-way through that the film, though not overtly political in any way (it is the mostly true story of how Ford built a car that bested Ferrari at Le Mans in the Sixties) encapsulated perfectly why President Trump is likely to win next November.

I also realized that most, if not all, of the Democratic candidates wouldn’t understand the film at all, or its message to a vast number of Americans.

  • Most of them would hate the film and what it stands for. The film extols automobiles, after all: you know, those fossil fuel-dependent monsters that are speeding the climate changes that will kill us, as Joe Biden so sagely says. It celebrates risk-taking, courage, determination, innovation, individualism and contempt for authority, all characteristics that arise from toxic masculinity.

Worse, perhaps, is that it highlights American exceptionalism in its truest form, showing a American company setting out to beat a foreign competitor at its own game on its own turf….and succeeding with some in-your-face audacity.

  • Predictably, “woke” film reviewers didn’t like the movie.Bloomberg writer Hannah Elliott sniffed,“This is a film celebrating those nostalgic golden days when white men ruled. No fraction of the storyline is devoted to parsing the thoughts and feelings of any female who appears, even peripherally, on screen.”No “of color” characters either, because, you see, the story is about white guys. The Horror. Me, I don’t care what color, nationality or gender the characters in a story are, as long as the story moves, teaches and inspires me. People like Elliot, however, are so consumed with counting EEOC categories to develop a diversity index that they are incapable of feeling what any healthy member of this society and culture should feel.

Elliott also complains, for example, that “Ford v Ferrari” makes a hero out of legendary auto designer Carroll Shelby (Matt Damon), who apart from his achievements in his field, was a notorious womanizer, a gun-loving big game hunter, was once sued for sexual harassment. He should be “cancelled,” not lionized.

  • The whole movie wears a metaphorical MAGA hat. No, not the “Make America Great Again” message of the “resistance” Big Lie purveyors, who who deliberately distort “great” into meaning something bigoted and shameful. The “G” in MAGA stands for American values and character, not race. It stands for pride, ambition, confidence, courage and success.

So does “Ford v. Ferrari.”

The bottom line: Ford made American race cars great again. And the way he did it is an object lesson in the wonders of the free market capitalist system. An abundance of data shows that economic freedom delivers the best outcomes for human communities—better education, better healthcare, a better environment. But it also is an incredibly powerful vehicle for human expression, innovation, productivity and prosperity.

The free market gave us more than Ford Mustangs. From Apple watches to Alexa, the free market keeps delivering new and better goods and services. 

Today, free markets are under assault from corrupt predatory economics, like those practiced by the Communist Chinese Party. They are bad-mouthed by Gen Z know-nothings who think socialism is cool. And they are dissed as “inefficient” by economic nationalists who promise government can run the economy better, if only we let them—rather than the market—pick economic winners and losers.

And that’s what makes a film like Ford v Ferrari so right for our times. It reminds us that when Americans unleash the constructive power of capitalism, we can accomplish great things. 

And, okay, maybe it is time for boomers like me to give the next generations their turn. But as they grasp the wheel, they would do well to remember what previous generations achieved with the American model and to think hard before they discard the principles and tools that unleashed the best of human potential. 

Exactly.

  • We can say and think what we want about Donald Trump. Whatever his flaws and character pathologies, he would understand this movie, what it says about our nation, its history, its culture, and yes, its greatness. I believe that nobody should be President who doesn’t understand these these things. It should be a baseline requirement.

If the Democrats were smart and competently committed and connected to our culture as they should be, the party would require all of their candidates to see the movie, more than once if necessary, and attend a training session to explain it to them.

They won’t, of course. They don’t know what makes America and Americans great any more. “Ford v. Ferrari” could help them, if they only would open their eyes.

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10 thoughts on “Ethics Observations Upon Watching “Ford v. Ferrari”

  1. “This is a film celebrating those nostalgic golden days when white men ruled. No fraction of the storyline is devoted to parsing the thoughts and feelings of any female who appears, even peripherally, on screen.”No “of color” characters either, because, you see, the story is about white guys.”

    Is she saying in now in the 21st century with more women and POC in the proverbial mix, the days of winning are merely a vestige of a bygone era when white men stood tall and conquered the challenges confronting them and the concept of being the best at something diminishes all the rest who do not measure up?

    Just asking. BTW, wasn’t there a recent movie about the enormous contributions black women made at NASA. I don’t believe the storyline worried much about the peripheral white guys and their thoughts and feelings.

    • No. But there were plenty of white guy villains, and one or two who could be classified as “woke.” In reality, while racism in the space program existed, these women were not subjected to it in the manner portrayed in the film.

      The movie is called Hidden Figures.

  2. I look forward to seeing this. A doc on Netflix is also very good with less Hollywood license. It was amazing to see the old footage of the races and cars and the almost unfathomable risk the drivers took to race those land rockets. The gt40 and its progeny were gorgeous.

    Sadly the Left has nothing it can point to that can match this beauty let alone inspire it.

    The F vs F story can be viewed from many perspectives. That Ford bested Ferrari is no doubt but I’m not sure one can make too much about the fight simply by looking at the surface. While Ferrari had a huge headstart the Ford Motor Company had incredible resources at its disposal that were not available after the war in Italy.

    Can one say today, even after the losses to the Ford GTs at Le Mans, that Enzo Ferrari made the wrong choice and stayed independent? That shows just as much of the American spirit that Shelby et al showed, don’t you think?

  3. I would say that what makes this movie a great American film is that it makes you feel good about America! It’s not a fairy tale, it’s not a satire, it’s not a farce, it’s a story about what can be possible. And that possible became reality. Another aspect I liked in the movie is that individuals, the free wheeling rebels standing up against the man. The rebels are Shelby and Ken, the man is FoMoCo. I see a rebuke of the corporate man, in the sense that if the corporate man were to run the race team, they would thrown a lot of money at the wind and lose. While the rebel can see the prize, he just needs some help. It’s the innovation, the freedom that you just cannot come up in a committee meeting with a bunch of suits in the corporate ivory tower. Sure the high payed suits will come up with something acceptable, but it may not have that spirit of adventure, soul, heart. The rebel brings the soul.

  4. There is even more to the story than that. Look up the 1962 Ford Mustang prototype (now in the Henry Ford museum). It is a rear engined, 2-seat wedge sports car with pop-up headlights. It looks like Ford was contemplating taking Ferrari on head to head in places other than the racetrack.

    https://d32c3oe4bky4k6.cloudfront.net/articles-videos/-/media/uscamediasite/images/story-images/2017/8/1962-ford-mustang-i-concept-car-neg-c1097-25.ashx?modified=20170821150753&mw=1000&hash=0FC1BB6ADE31A34D1FA122141DEBC14517AFACE8

  5. Rotting Communist regimes gave their people rotten cars like the Lada and the Yugo. So given the choice of a Lada or an LS-6 powered Chevelle SS, which would I take?

    Capitalism, free markets, Carroll Shelby, and 428-cubic-inch Mustang GT500s win every time! I need to go see that movie.

    • To be fair to the communists, I’m sorry guys, the Lada was a fiat design that was Russianized to be better suited to the conditions of the market. It actually had some improvements over the Fiat 124 basis. So for the time, when it came out in 1970, it can be argued it was good car. By the way, the Fiat 124 was the 1967 Car of The Year (in Europe). And you could get a soviet V-8, you just had to be a party boss, see the Gaz Chaika (kind of a Packard/Cadillac mix).

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