The protagonists of the French New Wave's most popular films are fiery, alienated loners with impenetrable accents. They are plagued by existential dread-the result of days, weeks and years spent pondering lives which seem to go around and around, but always end in the same place. While these characters' creators may have started out small, they eventually became recognized as some of the most influential filmmakers ever, with Wes Anderson and Quentin Tarantino, among many others, as followers.
This reminds us of a slightly more American institution that also came from humble beginnings but went on to dominate a sizable chunk of our culture: NASCAR. Yes, NASCAR. Its drivers, going round and round and speaking in odd dialects, aren't unlike the chain-smoking rascals in French New Wave movies. With this in mind, we find ourselves at the CRACKED offices asking the obvious question, often overheard in the infield at Daytona: If Dale Earnhardt Jr. were a film by Francois Truffaut, which one would he be?
The Film: The 400 Blows, 1959, Francois Truffaut
The hero is a Parisian schoolboy who yearns for acceptance in a cruel, indifferent world. After many mishaps and much struggle, he finally breaks free of his shackles.
You Are: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Like young Antoine, Dale Jr. struggles for acceptance, in his case, acceptance by the fans who endlessly compare him to his late father, Dale Sr. Much like Antoine finds peace in the final scene, so too, does Dale Jr. in his decision to leave his father's old race team and join Hendrick Motorsports Racing.
Odds that Dale Jr. has any idea what French New Wave Cinema is: 10-1
He once admitted to seeing Fahrenheit 911, which in NASCAR is akin to admitting you once burned an American flag while eating a bald eagle sandwich.
The Film: Le Beau Serge, 1958, Claude Chabrol
Haunted by the death of his child and trapped in a lifeless village, Serge simply gives up. Drunk and embittered, he refuses to confront his demons.
You Are: Kyle Petty
Much like the protagonist, Petty is haunted by his inability to make a serious run at the Nextel Cup, a title his father won numerous times. Using an endless stream of glib wisecracks as his armor, he attempts with great futility to hide his deep and abiding sense of disappointment.
Odd that Kyle has any idea what French New Wave Cinema is: 3-1
His name is Kyle and he has a ponytail. As far as most NASCAR fans are concerned, he might as well have been born in France.
The Film: Contempt, 1963, Jean-Luc Godard
A talented young screenwriter is hired by a rich film producer to write an adaptation of The Odyssey, but the writer finds himself stifled by the thick-headed producer's contempt for classic art.