A Different Kind of Bible

Katy Glime is a junior Chemical Engineering major and Religious Studies minor from Sacramento, California. The following blog post was written for REL 360: Popular Culture/Humanities.

The movie Repo Man is a story about the life of a recently jobless kid, Otto, and his adventure working in the repo business trying to find a car that has a $20,000 price tag on it. This odd green Chevy Malibu also has some unusual activity in the back, that some believe might be aliens. The movie follows Otto through his journey of friendships, adventure, and trying to figure out the meaning of his life and his new career as a repo man, as well as what could possibly be in the back of that car.

It is clear from the beginning of the movie that many of the characters need guidance in their lives. As repo men, Bud (an older guy that has been in the business of repossessing cars for years) explains to Otto, the lost kid that gets roped into helping steal a car and then joins the group, the “Repo Code.” He says that this code is something that Otto must remember because “not many people have a code to live by anymore.” This code is like a sacred text to these people, becoming equivalent to what the Bible would be to Christians or the Torah to Jewish people. It gives them something to live by and base their actions on. This code emphasizes that no vehicle shall come to any harm, giving a set of rules and respect to an otherwise not very honorable career.

This movie centers around a Chevy Malibu that has some sort of alien activity going on in the trunk. Many different types of people coming from many different walks of life are trying to obtain this car, because they want what is in the back of it. Whether it is the CIA, the radical group that is trying to save the aliens, the man selling Bibles at the beginning of the movie, or the repo men, all of these people want access to this car and the aliens in the back of it. The ironic part of this is that in the end, the only ones allowed in the car are Otto, who wanted Bud to leave the car because it wasn’t worth it, and Miller, the man burning clothes and appearing not to care about anything the entire movie. This ending goes hand in hand with the Repo Code being somewhat of a Bible to Bud and his companions, because in the end Bud finds his desire for a car to be more important that his life; this goes against the code, a code that he emphasized as something Otto should use as his guide to life. Because he goes against the code, he is not granted access to fly away with the aliens, and ends up dying because of his proximity to the car.

The ending, in which Otto and Miller lift into the sky in the glowing green Chevy Malibu, alludes to the lattice of coincidence, something Miller emphasizes during the movie. While the repo men live by their code, Miller lives by this belief that there is a cosmic unconsciousness that is overlaying everything, and that there is no point in looking for a reason for this. While he babbles on about shrimp and plates and time travel, he actually gets across the point that the only way to live your life is to just let this lattice of coincidence lead you where is may. In the end, his belief in this lattice and Otto’s adherence to the code leads the two into a glowing green Chevy Malibu, flying away while everyone else around them is burned by whatever was coming off of the car. This could be the author’s and director’s way of informing viewers that whatever their religion may be, they must abide by the code that is provided to them; by adhering to the rules and regulations provided to them by their belief system of choice, the faithful are saved, and can “ride off into the sunset” in their own figurative glowing green Chevy Malibu. Those that are not able to adhere to their chosen code, much like Bud, will not get the same ending as those of good faith.

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