The interesting thing about popular culture – be it through the vessels of film or literature is that it’s supposed to broaden the minds of viewers. Oftentimes – it fails miserably and spreads stereotypes and negative views. Unfortunately, truck drivers are not exempt from the wrath of the implications that come from film, books, television, and the media, in general.
One of the most severely damaging films when it comes to the reputation of a driver is the 2001 film entitled: Joy Ride. In this film, three twenty-somethings get ahold of a CB radio during a cross-country road trip. They choose a fake handle and use it to play what they think to be a harmless prank on a driver they’ve reached over the radio.
The three travelers take the prank so far that the driver realizes not only that the joke is at his expense, but also who has been contacting him over the CB. The driver seeks his vengeance, and an action-packed chase ensues over the course of several days.
The “psychotic truck driver” nearly succeeds to kill the three pranksters multiple times, and he appears to be a completely deranged individual. The entire film casts an unbelievably bad light on drivers and could potentially instill a completely unnecessary fear in viewers.
This has even been noticed as an issue recently as you may or may not be aware. Ginger Strand’s newly released book entitled: Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate is being relatively well received by readers. What drivers should know about this, is that it sheds an extremely negative light on drivers. The book details the methods of the 1950’s “highway killer” who took advantage of both the newly constructed system of interstates and highways and the identities of truck drivers.
You may recall stories of this killer by some of his other handles including: the “Hitcher,” the “Freeway Killer,” the “Killer on the Road,” the “I-5 Strangler,” and the “Beltway Sniper.” This book attempts to make the point that as soon as the interstate system was constructed, the country’s murder rate immediately increased. The author blames the nation’s increase in murders on those that travel the roadways, like truck drivers, patrol officers, hitchhikers, etc.
Not only does the book point out that there have been serial killers in the past who posed or actually worked as truck drivers, but it details the living conditions of truck stop prostitutes – also known as lot lizards. This sort of profile inconsiderately casts a dark shadow on the lifestyle and integrity of truck drivers, and also makes truck stops out to be much more sinister than they actually are.
Whether it be a driver that a news anchor might choose to interview in extreme weather who poorly represents the truck driving community, or the books and movies that cast negative stereotypes – popular culture and the media oftentimes do a horrendous job when depicting drivers. Has there ever been a film, newsreel, or book that you felt made truck drivers seem unnecessarily intimidating, dangerous or uneducated? What do you think are the worst stereotypes out there when it comes to the truck driving community?