Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why do some people detest the Hummer?

The Hummer’s high fuel consumption and concerns for global warming are the main reasons mentioned by critics of this vehicle. Although these factors are not totally unrelated to this negative sentiment, they are not the real reasons; the truth lies elsewhere. What people detest is not its gluttony for fuel, nor really its size, since other vehicles, such as the Lincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escapade, consume just as much gas and are almost as large. Given the international community’s contempt to the American intervention in Iraq and the opposition of a majority of Americans to it, the military origin of the vehicle is an aggravating factor, yet still insufficient to justify a feeling of hatred; the Jeep is also of military origin and nobody hates it. We thus have to look elsewhere.

Alexander Sutherland Neill tells us that love and hate are in fact one and the same thing: Love and hate are not opposites. The opposite of love is indifference. Hatred is another side of love-a love thwarted. Hatred always contains an element of fear (A. S. Neill, Summerhill, A radical approach to education, Londres, Victor Gollancz, 7e impression, 1973, p. 301). What some people detest has more to do with the Hummer’s personality, most likely because it scares them somewhat, rightly so when one considers the appearance of the vehicle, the advertising slogans and arguments used to sell it, and sometimes even the aggressive behaviour of some Rambo randomly crossed on the road!

Wheels whose size allows the Hummer to “clamber over a 40 cm vertical barrier”, a ground clearance which places its grille at nose level, said grille evoking the gaping mouth of an animal with sharp teeth. Agreeably, those are elements that can intimidate most people. Marketing experts tell us that advertising is designed for a specific market segment; people who are not targeted can be indifferent to it, find it offensive even. Nevertheless, advertising has an impact on them! Do you really that the aggressive advertising arguments quoted in a recent blog, the best example of which being “Move in for the thrill”, can leave people that are not targeted indifferent? On the contrary, they can easily create a sense of instinctive aversion or worry, or even fear in people who are more sensitive than others.

Finally, without maintaining that all Hummer drivers are Rambos of the road, it is impossible to believe that the advertising arguments used have influence over them. The mere fact that they have purchased a Hummer contradicts this hypothesis.

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