Have you seen this commercial? A young girl asks her dad to drop her off on the corner; she doesnâ€™t want her friends to see her parents car. Not because she is worried, as the old story goes, that her friends will know that she comes from poverty. No, all her friendsâ€™ parents are driving Hybrids and she doesnâ€™t want them to see dad drive up in the SUV.
At first, this is heartening. Clearly this is an advertisement marketing hybrids to the middle class folks so invested in TV culture. And truthfully, this was how I felt when my grandfather wanted to drive me to my graduation in a monster-sized SUV.
The dad tells his daughter that, though may not look like it, the giant tractor they are riding in is a hybrid. The announcer proudly points out that this SUV gets 32 miles per gallon, the best gas mileage for any SUV.
Which is great because the soccer dads can continue doing their 150 mile-commute while feeling good about global warming by upgrading to a car that gets gas mileage approximately equivalent to a 1985 Honda Civic. Whoopdie-doo.
But then they ruin any joy I might get from the announcement of the inevitable energy guzzling hybrid. The daughter asks why he never told her before. His response: â€œGee, it never occurred to me that I needed to.â€
And this is not an offhand statement, it is the final line of the ad, the punchline if you will. What is the significance of this?
In a small sense, he is suggesting that daughters not be inquisitive, particularly about these matters that will drastically affect their lives after their parents are dead. More importantly, his snarky remark is tapping into (suggesting? chicken or egg?) some idea that hybrid cars and by association global warming and environmentalism are subjects not to be talked about.
Really? The ongoing debate about whether or not we should do something about worldwide global catastrophe has become a subject not discussed in polite social circles? The enlightened father in the commercial is somehow better than the momâ€™s and dad driving Priuses because they are the types who brag about all they are doing for the planet. When smart folks know that we are all slowly (very slowly) upgrading to hybrid SUVs so this whole ecological collapse isnâ€™t really that big a deal. Just shut up about it already and buy a new car.