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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Please wait...while we load your fantasy

     Ever wonder what the world would be like if car advertisements actually told the truth? I’m not talking about cars that will get you noticed by that hot gal at the Mall or impress the greasers at the scrap metal yard…..I’m talking about serious life changing attributes that automotive manufacturers want you to believe exist in the product they sell.

     Boiled down to it’s essential resin, the brain trusts that form high power automotive marketing groups sell one of two basic concepts: A) Excitement  B) Convenience. The ratio of each ebb and flow in any given product based upon in-depth research into our psyches.

Yes… they’re inside our heads.

     What they want….more than anything in this world, is to have you driving down the road in one of their products nestled comfortably in one of your innermost fantasies. This sounds a bit sinister and escapist but let me assure you it’s generally a harmless condition…for now. You want to be a race car driver, right? No. You want to be a supermodel. Either way, you want your every nuisance and need attended to by an ever-present and well appointed staff of minions. Speed minions, sound minions, comfort minions….an army of levers, pedals, buttons, and knobs capable of pleasing every sensory organ in your bod. With ever-increasing technological miracles (the likes of which will sweep us off into soft clouds of pink and powder blue cotton candy) the automotive industry is advancing toward an effortless, pre-controlled transportation experience. You’ll note that I’ve deliberately eliminated the word “driving” at this point. We have cars that automatically apply the brakes, throttle, adjust suspension angles, and periodically predict your next whim. At some point, we’ll be mere passengers. We already have heads-up displays that project data and images on to our windshields…a tool aimed at our fascination and susceptibility to optical illusion.

     Soon you’ll be able to look at your windshield and see the coastline of the Italian Riviera while on your way to Trader Joe’s, where the frozen prepared seafood selection awaits you. Your screaming kids in the back seat can be dialed and modulated into the sounds of an Italian V12 supermotor. That traffic jam ahead will be caused by screaming teenagers awaiting your autograph as you approach…not by some nitwit in an SUV trying to turn in the “no turning” lane.

     But what if I’m wrong? What if these things are eternally out of our reach as an inventive species? What if engineers, designers, and psychologists can’t actually produce the stimuli that we crave? I guess I’ll just await orders from the Mother Ship telling me what I really want…instead.