To the urban slang uninformed, “dubbed” means “nicknamed,” “copied,” or “voice-over’ed.” To the urban slang informed, “dubbed” and its (present tense) noun form “dub” refer to “twenty dollars worth of drugs,” “an abbreviation of the letter W,” and last but certainly not least, the “Vee-Dub” or “VW,” shortened versions of the “Volkswagen.” A proper application of these “dubs” into a sentence could resemble “Give a dub to my man Dub-P., and then I’ll take you for a ride in my Dub.” If filmmaker Sean Porter gets his way, his documentary “dubbed” will join the list of definitions urbandictionary.com provides for the word “dub.”
A Volkswagen enthusiast himself, Porter spent two days at the Buttonwillow Raceway in California during the fall of 2004 documenting and talking to members of the Vdub community as they race and feed off of their love for German cars. Shawn Meze, Shannon Fenton, Lisa Lutman, and Mike and Kristen Potter are among the many people “dubbed” introduces. Fenton probably spends the most time in front of the camera, sharing his VW stories and expressing his distaste for the lameness exuded by people who get into the import car racing scene because pop-culture deems it cool (thanks to a certain Paul Walker-Vin Diesel partnership from 2001). Avoiding a full-on verbal attack of “The Fast and the Furious” type of ride, “dubbed” conveys that love is not the issue. It’s obvious that people who modify their cars for regular driving or for racing love doing it. Japanese or German, the cars belong to extremely devoted owners. The point is showing face, and VW’s are concerned with more than appearances. They aren’t overly flashy with decals like their Japanese counterparts.
This glamourization would transform a parade or whirr of import cars into a dazzling spectacle. The same is also true for Volkswagens. Crowds gather for “opening night” and it looks like they’re there for a rock concert. Steam and smoke refract light between the people, creating a mesmerizing sight. A mixture of black and white and color footage as well as stills, if “dubbed” were a home video, it would be the best home video ever made. The aesthetic design and content organization are excellent. Paired with ambient, house-flavored music, Porter’s documentary is professional but intimate; artistically and “narratively” well structured without being too commercial. “dubbed” may focus on the culture surrounding the Volkwagen, but it touches on a fundamental truth about people and automobiles. Cars are not merely means of transportation. We get attached to them and when they don’t cooperate, we take it personally.