In movies, particularly ones aimed at a younger audience which involve cars are given names and tend to have a gender. The best example of this is in Cars (2006) which is all about, well, cars. Each has it’s own gender and personality which seem very typical to the car in which they are. One in particular is the VW Camper Van, which is shown as a hippie as they were very popular among the stereotype in the 70s.
Before Disney made Cars there was Brum (1991-2002) which was a TV series about a toy cars travel around the city which his owner in away. Brum was obviously just called this because of the sound a car makes, and was made for young children (I remember watching it when I was young) but it was the first thing I saw where it was a car with seemingly intelligent, self-driven car with characteristics. Another film I thought of was Herbie which stared in six films, the earliest being The Love Bug (1968) and the most recent Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005). The decal on the VW Beetle has been made quite iconic as many people have recreated it on their own. In these film Herbie is a sentient anthropomorphic, a car with feelings. Most people who own a car spend a lot of their time in it, travelling to work, college or uni, or just travelling in general and get quite attached, especially if they’ve had them for a long time. Perhaps having a car for so long it can seem like it has characteristics of its only, little things that you know make it work, for example in order to turn my Dads Camper Van on you have to pump the clutch three times before trying to turn on the engine. Does this actually do anything? I don’t know but it’s things like this which I think become part of the attachment we have to our cars.
After seeing a film where the whole world are cars rather than people, it’s hard not to think of cars in our own world in this way. Perhaps Disney when making the film where thinking about how different cars seem more male than female, and what kind of personalities they might have. I would be interested to know where the inspiration for the film Cars came from. Overall as films are part of our popular culture, it creates a norm for people to name their cars based on their appearance, perhaps since these types of films we’ve seen more of it.