The Original, Updated

In 1952 Gene Kelly sang and danced in Singin’ In The Rain, and now, courtesy of modern technology and Volkswagen, he will breakdance in it. The car company has been granted permission by the Gene Kelly Foundation to use the scene, one of the most famous sequences in the history of cinema.
A Volkswagen spokeswoman said: “The idea behind the commercial is all about the fact that the new Golf GTI is the original Mk I, but updated for 2005. The latest Golf is seen as a classic and iconic car and we really wanted to show that in a very unusual and memorable way.”

From here. The Golf GTi really is an iconic car. Read a surprisingly good u/grad essay on it here. I argue that it was the first of the so-called “pocket rockets” that emerged in response to the neo-liberal desire to signify allegiance to the “performance paradigm” (see Jon McKenzie) in an era and cultural context where a thumping American V8 wouldn’t cut the grade. From the essay:

The GTI was launched to a generation with two mutually inconclusive concerns, high speed and fuel economy. 1977, the second year of GTI sales, saw a renewal of widespread public absorption in space travel. NASA’s reusable space shuttle concept made its maiden voyage, ‘Star Wars’ took three million dollars within a week, and Concorde made its first transatlantic supersonic flight. Renault introduced Formula One’s first turbocharged engine, whilst fellow German car manufacturer Porsche’s 928 was heralded ‘Car of the year’ (Taylor 1995 p307). In short, going fast was suddenly on the mind of the consumer. That this absorption with speed was unforeseen is demonstrated by the uncertainty with which Volkswagen’s hitherto unequalled marketing department’s greeted the GTI. In 1977 Volkswagen had the right car and they were selling it at the right time.

Anyway, the new Golf GTi ad is pretty bloody cool (dl it here, 5.64 megs). Some call it “breakdancin’ in the rain,” some call it “rapping in the rain”… it is a ‘VJ’ remix of Gene Kelly’s famous “Singing in the Rain” scene. Read more about it here. The catchphrase for the ad is: “The new Golf GTi. The original, updated.”

Interesting that this should come up after hearing DJ Spooky talk about similar practices of appropriation.

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