Pathetic Armada

Today’s paper came with an anemic Car section as usual, ever since Craig Newmark gutted the want-ad section of urban newspapers across the country. I guess this has meant that automobile companies have to pay more now to keep this section of advertorial alive. It looks like it’s on life support, with readers shouldering a good bit of the storytelling (“we want to know why you drive what you drive”) to save a bit of coin and perhaps even get a little focus group work done too. But the copy for the ‘review’ (=ad) of the Nissan Armada just made me crawl over here to my scratching post to yowl.

This Army of One weighs around 3 tonnes, uses a gallon for every 12 miles covered (assuming 20k miles/year, the average in USA among people who aren’t retired), and takes up as much room as a vacation cabin. The makers must feel the heat from The Hummer, that iconic symbol of gleeful, in-your-face waste.

So in a style less macho, and more suited to genteel eco-assassins in perpetual denial, Nissan intones: “more luxurious for full-size SUV buyers (I thought that genre was dying!)…the 2008 gets a complete face-lift… (guess you wouln’t want to be caught in the 2007 anymore, eh?). Beefy wheels (WHEN is that word going to be considered brutishly derogatory?), heightened safety ‘for my grandkids’.

Ah, the perceived safety of the grandkids…does anyone know about the heightened risk to all the people OUTSIDE the car?

Tim Harford, the undercover economist who writes a column in London’s Financial Times put it best:
The trouble with cars these days is that they’re too safe. Of course, I don’t write as a driver; I write as a cyclist. Drivers quite reasonably feel that they’re so well protected by their seatbelts, bull-bars, airbags, ejector seats and the rest that they can afford to take risks. Cyclists and pedestrians are the ones on the receiving end.

For several years I’ve been watching the automobile industry ply us with ads that have flowers encircling the vehicle, paeans to the simpler sixties when everything floral was good…and the copy instructs us that these new cars are cleaning up the air, improving quality of life, etc.

How in the world, without a fat budget, are we to get word out that this is all lies, and the only freedom is outside the machine, moving yourself?

I hope that (when ‘beefy’ is an insult) young people will eschew jobs in advertising and take their chances in a barter economy while we stagger away from the materials economy and into a more sustainable future. It’s late already and I KNOW that my neighbors will never ever opt to walk or ride. I can’t even imagine showing their kids The Story Of Stuff!

There is such thing as not working for car companies, not working for ad agencies that glorify consumption and sell garbage (did you know that 1 % of all we buy per year lasts into the next year….the rest is put in the trash?
Dig in….refuse to add refuse.

Arm yourself and watch out for those SUVs.

~ by jacquiephelan on December 29, 2007.

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