Hollywood loves motorcycles. Peter Fonda rode one in Easy Rider with fresh-faced Jack Nicholson in a football helmet on back. And that hot nekkid chick in Vanishing Point slithered across the desert on one-though nobody quite knew why that mattered to the plot...or cared.
But the bikes themselves rarely have a real presence in film. The hero rides one: Maybe he terrorizes a mid-century small California town, or rides alongside a runway full of F-14s, fist-pumping and hollering like a jackass. Either way, it's all about the guy. Or the nekkid chick. The bike is just a plot element, serving only to propel the story forward.
A few months back it seemed like the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight, might have a shot at altering that familiar pattern. But could a couple of Hoosiers and faux machine guns lashed together with little more than random tubing and gaffer's tape finally elevate the motorcycle to star status? No question, the Batpod (we don't know what it means either) has stirred more buzz than the usual bit of cinematic motorcycle mock-uppery.
But will it turn out to be the most memorable bit of two-wheeled road tackle ever to appear on celluloid (or whatever they use now)? Maybe to people who don't ride, but probably not to us motorcyclists.
Because real bikes are more interesting than fake ones. Odds are, most of us would rather watch Bud Ekins (as Steve McQueen) really jump that barbed wire fence in The Great Escape. No special effects, no nearly unrideable rolling prop-bike and no stunt rider barely stifling a load of guano in his Bat-tights.
Just a guy in a sweatshirt on a real motorcycle. "Cue bike...jump!...and crash! Cut!" Now that's entertainment!