Car Crash Culture

“Keep a copy in your glove compartment–right next to your organ donor card.” Mark Dery, author of I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts

“What gets opened up to view in these disturbing, sometimes spectacular collisions is not just the statistical importance and multiple meanings of four-wheeled trauma for our culture today, but our insistent curiosity, fascination and horror—the shock or thrill of recognition, empathy or sadism or just the ubiquitous idling will to gawk that draws us alternately to the crash scene and these pages.”

Dick Hebdige, Film and Media studies Department, UCSB, author of Subculture: The Meaning of Style

Car Crash Culture (ed. Mikita Brottman, Palgrave / St. Martins, 2002) is a collection of essays exploring the grim underside of America’s cult of the automobile and the frequently conspiratorial speculations that arise whenever people die in cars. Looking at fatal celebrity car accidents and other examples of death by automobile through personal memoir and forensic reports, cultural critics ponder people’s fascination with car crashes. They explore car crash conspiracy theories, the automobile as a site of murder, car crash films, and the notion of the “accident.” The book features original essays by such underground icons as Kenneth Anger and Adam Parfrey. Essays cover the deaths of Albert Camus, Jackson Pollock, James Dean, Jayne Mansfield, Princess Diana, Princess Grace, and Mary Jo Kopechne, amongst others.

Interview with Erik Davis and Maja D’Aoust, Expanding Mind, Progressive Radio Network, August 2010.

Interview on NPR, To the Best of Our Knowledge, 07.14.2002