February 15, 2003


By now the SUVs-support-terrorists ads trumpeted by Ariana Huffington are old news. We all know (or, at least those of us who listen to Hannity’s show do) that many of the backers of that ad are conspicuous consumers in their own right. So, why would folks who live in mansions, own multiple luxury cars, take private planes, and generally enjoy the best of all material things, be so strongly opposed to SUVs? Because they’re tacky.

I really believe that’s the primary reason. It’s not based on a logical assessment of the SUV’s use of natural resources, or its role in car wrecks. It’s based purely on esthetics, with a handful of discriminately selected scientific and psuedoscientific factoids pasted on to dress it up. These folks don’t like SUVs because they see them as particularly obnoxious expressions of middle class boorishness. Limousines or private jets, on the other hand, while they may use fuel just as inefficiently, are acceptable, because they’re more refined means of transportation.

Now I have to make a confession. I think SUVs are tacky, too. Not for the reasons I’m ascribing to Huffington & Co., but I do. Truth told, there are very few modern cars that I think are worth a second glance. I hate all the rounded corners, weak lines, bloated bumpers, and featureless surfaces. I much prefer the muscle cars of the 60s, or even the whimsical gee-whiz designs of the 50s. Those cars were proud to be machines, metal manifestations of human ingenuity and imagination. Today’s cars are so apologetic. No offending seams or wasteful artistic flourishes, just antiseptic regularity.

That said, I would never turn my distaste of these cars into a political cause. Sure, it bugs me that American designers and consumers have abandoned the Cougar for the Contour (sheesh, “Contour”? why not just call it the 2003 Artistic Apathy?), but that’s their business, not mine. And until I can afford that old Stingray, I’ll be sticking with my esthetically underwhelming Saturn (at least it’s named after a Roman god/spectacular planet). It’s not something to make a federal case out of. Unless, that is, you’re Huffington & Co.

Posted by at February 15, 2003 8:17 PM | PROCURE FINE OLD WORLD ABSINTHE