Unhand Thine Prius
Seems like everyone wants a piece of the red-hot, green auto action these days in order to draw eyeballs to their content which in turn will snare advertisers to sponsor said content. Which begs the question: to what degree is the flogging of green cars a dog and pony show? Or to meet on its own terms the above clip, to what degree is it a Wizard and Princess show?This video clip from a reality show on the truTV Network seems to express the childish longing to hold onto the way things were; to demonstrate a not wanting to change with the times. The video seems at its core to mock the green, geeky ethos of the Prius and sustainable tech in general. You know: I still want my throaty V8 and monster trucks. If I wasn't a man (N.B. intentionally incorrect use of the subjunctive mood) you might've seen a tear running down my cheek when I heard the Hummer line might be discontinued. The people who go in for alt wheels are Dungeons and Dragons freaks in a freakazoid fantasyland.
Well, the process of imagining any kind of a future involves creating a fantasyland -- initially. Tennessee Williams famously opined about the experience of playwriting that as one world comes into existence, the world of the play, another one collapses. The latter world Williams speaks of here is "reality." Philosophy and cultural theory aside as to what constitutes reality, it's pretty clear to anyone who leverages the power of their imagination that all creation is predicated on destruction. That opportunity costs are involved where the tree yields to become the stair porn Lloyd writes about on TreeHugger. The organic tomato becomes the bouillabaisse which in turn becomes the compost and human waste that returns to the earth to be born again. In that purgatory of the imagination within the human mind, and hopefully within too the soul, fear is overcome and we may just appear a bit ridiculous to our peers for the moment. That perhaps we too dwell on the slicked-up consumerist aspect of the automobile just to draw attention to ourselves. That we'd report on the Tesla for clicks and not because of the end-game. Michael, who often writes about cars, sheds some light:
Because cars are such a big contributor to global warming and air pollution right now, any improvements - even if not perfect - have a chance to make as big, if not bigger, a difference as anything else we write about. Making electric cars desirable in the eye of the mainstream audience by explaining their benefits (they used to think of them as golf carts) is what's helping us switch from petroleum burners to eventually, some day soon I hope, 100% recyclable electric vehicles powered by clean energy sources (and lots of efficient public transit and walkable cities!). If people don't know about these concepts and demand them, carmakers won't make them because it's less expensive to make their huge capital investments in old tech last as long as possible. Technologies always go through a phase when they aren't very practical and they are expensive, before becoming accessible and inexpensive (fridges, televisions, cell phones, computers, etc).
All that said, now back to the video: reality shows, especially for a network calling itself truTV, need to be true. It's true that the repo men didn't know there would be kooks dressed-up in mediaeval dress such as wizard, princess and knave costumes. It's true the show hosts didn't know there were real and lethal weapons in the trunk of the hybrid. It's also true that the repossessies may very well be actors hired and coached by the Associate Producer in Charge of Messing with Your Head. Perhaps all that is fair if your end goal is limited strictly to entertainment where no Hippocratic oath exists barring the doing of harm. However, when one adds a moral value layer to creative work, when one gets in touch with one's conscience, this kind of schoolyard hocus-pocus seems untenable even on the boob tube.