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RUSH- The Movie–Who’s the A**hole?

October 5, 2013

Filed under: Business of Dentistry,Ethics — Tags: , , — Barry @ 11:53 AM



I just saw Ron Howard’s new movie, Rush.  It’s the story of one year of Formula One Grand Prix racing.  That year, 1976 was the year that Great Britain’s James Hunt beat out Austrian Niki Lauda for the championship.  The story is amazing in its own right, but I always ask myself what makes a story important.  It takes more than an interesting story for a Hollywood producer like Howard to back it.

In this case I was confused for a while.  I didn’t know who the main character was, Lauda or Hunt.  James Hunt was the more likeable guy, the one I was rooting for throughout the movie.  Niki Lauda was portrayed as an a**hole.

As a matter of fact that word was used almost as many times as Jamie Foxx used the N word in Django.  But I digress.  It isn’t usual for the audience to root for a jerk.

Not being an auto racing enthusiast I wasn’t aware of what happened in 1976, but I knew the name Niki Lauda and had never heard of James Hunt…the eventual World Champion Driver in 1976.  Why was that?

Because Hunt only raced for a total of 6 years (1973-1979), and only raced for 3 years after winning the controversial championship, but Lauda left a legacy.  And that is why this story is important in a time that our culture celebrates “rock stars.”  Characters with inflated egos that care less about their work than they do about how the public views them.

Niki Lauda was the real deal and James Hunt was just another rock star.  Lauda knew everything about auto racing…what we might call a real master of his art.  He was confident in knowing that his need for being the best was more important than winning that year’s championship and just being recognized as the best.  There is a fine line line in that…and I won’t give away the movie, but Lauda sacrificed winning that prize for something much greater.

And therein lies the reason for Ron Howard seeing Niki Lauda as the hero…and Hunt as the agonist.  Lauda changed.  His confidence rather than his inflated ego enabled him to take a stand on behalf of his work and his industry and what he believed was right.

Rock stars don’t do that.  Rock stars don’t leave legacies.

The contrast of the two characters reminds me of Stephen Covey’s description of the two schools of thought which he calls the Personality Ethic vs. the Character Ethic.

It also reminds me of another cultural icon: Steve Jobs.  When I ask people what they think of Jobs I am often surprised by the number of people who offhandedly just say, “A**hole,” without really knowing that much about the man.

The movie made me think of how we lionize people who are socially competent and “likeable,” without really knowing who they are.

The confident ones are the ones who are willing to stand up for great work rather than just protect their image and their reputation.

James Hunt died at age 46.  Lauda is still alive.  The movie is worth seeing—more than once, like most of Ron Howard’s films.

When I think of today’s dental industry I see many parallels — I am interested in your opinion about rock stars and confident contributors.



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  1. The reason you’ve never heard of them (I have), is probably the same as most Americans. Formula One is THE biggest sport in the world. Yes… bigger than soccer. But, American sports fans just don’t follow F1.

    Michael Schumacher, 7-time F1 champ, was the highest paid athlete in the world until Tiger Woods came along. Yet, most Americans have no clue who Schumacher is.

    Comment by The Dental Warrior — October 6, 2013 @ 11:23 PM

  2. I have heard of Schumacher…and Lauta…it was Hunt who I never heard of. The story of Rush was about their rivalry. It was interesting what Ron Howard did in using the story to teach very important lessons.
    Here in America, as you said, F1 is not recognized…although I once went to Watkins Glen.

    Comment by Barry Polansky — October 7, 2013 @ 9:43 AM

  3. I dislike overly confident people who can’t back up their talk with competent action

    Comment by Jere Zarkin — October 13, 2013 @ 1:54 PM

  4. Jere–It’s called arrogance—and it’s rampant in our society. All over dentistry.

    Comment by Barry — October 13, 2013 @ 5:19 PM

  5. It’s not arrogance if you can back it up. Then there’s also this thing called jealousy. 🙂

    Comment by The Dental Warrior — October 13, 2013 @ 10:45 PM

  6. arrogance—offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

    Comment by Barry — October 13, 2013 @ 11:16 PM

  7. Ah… but, one cannot be offended without first giving permission.

    Comment by The Dental Warrior — October 13, 2013 @ 11:39 PM

  8. Just making social commentary. There was nothing offensive about James Hunt or Nicki Lauta…just a contrast in personalities…very common.

    Comment by Barry — October 14, 2013 @ 9:53 AM

  9. I was referring more to the implication that dentistry is overwhelmed with offensive arrogance. 🙂

    Comment by The Dental Warrior — October 14, 2013 @ 10:22 AM

  10. I think the implication is about our culture…we just happen to be dentists and see the similarities. It exists everywhere…and not necessarily a good thing. In other cultures—it is called the “tall poppy syndrome (Australia), and it is frowned upon.

    Comment by Barry — October 14, 2013 @ 10:27 AM

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