Why One 'Ford v Ferrari' Movie Review Is Leaving Fans Outraged | Opinion

It's one of my favorite things to do with my 14-year-old daughter. When the mood hits us, we have a daddy-daughter night. That generally consists of us grabbing a bite to eat and catching a movie. The latest choice was hers. One I happily submitted to because I'd wanted to see it myself: Ford v Ferrari.

I'm not a film critic, and this isn't a film review. It's a review of a review. Actually, it's a story about a review, because it's a window into the world of modern identity politics. And how the politics of gender, in this case, can destroy any cultural experience deemed not sufficiently "woke."

The movie stars Matt Damon as car legend Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as British race car driver Ken Miles. The two, it turns out, were asked by a giant American car company, Ford, to build a car that could beat Ferrari in a race the iconic Italian brand had come to dominate: Le Mans. And do it quickly.

It is a real-life story about two underdog gearheads tasked with doing the impossible. Though the movie takes some liberties with timelines, the outcome (spoiler alert!) remains the same: Ford doesn't just win the 1966 Le Mans—it takes second and third place, too, thus ending the Ferrari reign.

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The movie was a blast. Time flew by as we watched the classic American story about competition, innovation, ambition and the sheer thrill of driving fast cars. And—as my daughter was happy to report—the male stars were pretty easy on the eyes, for old guys. The American people agreed, as the movie sped to its own No. 1 finish.

Then came my encounter with a review for Bloomberg's National Post. The writer, Hannah Elliott, lost me at hello with the headline: "Ford v Ferrari depicts a 'car guy' generation best left in the past."

The movie, according to Elliott, paints "a devastating picture of the lack of diversity that permeated the industry in the 1960s." Men, she explains, dominate the screen. "And when I say men, I mean white, straight men." The horror!

What did she expect to see in a movie about 1960s auto racing? Is this how she experiences all history?

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She then unloads on Shelby, seemingly believing that the filmmakers did not pay enough attention to his deficiencies. (He was married seven times, got sued for sexual harassment in 2011, liked big game hunting, was extremely litigious and had a legendary potty mouth.)

The result, according to Elliott, is another "film celebrating those nostalgic golden days when white men ruled."

Does Elliott really believe that audiences who went to Ford v Ferrari were "celebrating those nostalgic golden days when white men ruled"? Is that why she thinks we went to see Saving Private Ryan? I'm sure it must have burned her up to see so few women storming the beaches of Normandy. Does she think we loved The Green Book because we long for the good old days of segregation? Or The Revenant because we long for the days before GPS, snowmobiles, hot plates and HVAC?

Ford v Ferrari
A general view during the "Ford v Ferrari" premiere on November 8 in Milan, Italy. Vincenzo Lombardo/Getty

It's history, and nothing can change what used to be. Human beings have a natural curiosity about things that happened before us. And the people who came before us, too. It's how we learn about ourselves. And our country. And how far we've all come.

If we don't tell these stories, if we leave them "dead and gone," as the writer recommends, because they are not sufficiently "woke," then how will we learn? How will we grow?

In the comments section, a stream of rebuttals from both men and women challenged the writer's premise. The best was by someone who gave the name Jen Zordan.

"Since I was a very little girl, I have had a thing for the Ford Mustang. Since mud trucks are my thing, the Ford Mustang is special because it's really the only car that I like. Carroll Shelby is an American treasure. It doesn't matter at all who has been involved in past car culture, what is important is that they got us here. I am so grateful to them. The car culture has always been dominated by straight [white] men. There's usually a certain level of testosterone required in order for someone to get excited about horsepower and the smell of burnt fuel. It is rare that a woman, especially a feminine woman, find these things intoxicating. And it is even more rare to find a woman who can actually rebuild an engine from the ground up. But I assure you that we are out here, and we adore the straight [white] men with all their manliness and testosterone with whom we work and banter. We enjoy our femininity, we get our nails done, we have highlights in our hair, we wear heels out to dinner, and we build project cars and trucks on the weekends. I have put "white" in brackets because the author seems to be hyper focused on it. Car guys are car guys regardless of color, and I have worked with car guys of all shades and I adore them."

Modern women are not a monolithic crowd, and many are not buying into the hyper-sensitivity and resentment of a small and angry strain of feminism. They're free to choose what they love, and whom they love—and that includes movies about car guys and car culture in the 1960s.

Lee Habeeb is vice president of content for Salem Radio Network and host of Our American Stories. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi, with his wife, Valerie, and his daughter, Reagan.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.

Why One 'Ford v Ferrari' Movie Review Is Leaving Fans Outraged | Opinion | Opinion