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Hollywood Gins Up Electric Car Propaganda Machine


So here we are into the first year of the Chevy Volt, and President Obama’s prediction of selling 15,000 vehicles by the end of the year, is still about 12,000 short. It’s not a good start for the Administration who expects to have a million plug-in vehicles on the road by 2015. So Hollywood is ramping up the propaganda machine.

In a Hollywood Reporter article, Hollywood plans to help their favorite President, by making the electric car cool. That is, if you really think Hollywood has that much power. It’s a classic chicken and egg story: is smoking cool because Humphrey Bogart did it; or was Humphrey Bogart cool because he smoked? Perhaps now that they’ve made comic book conventions cool, Hollywood believes it has gained super-powers.

Chris Paine, known for his documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?” is now working alongside his former nemesis, with “The Revenge of the Electric Car.” If current lackluster Volt sales continue, Chris Paine might someday be the star of a third picture, “Who Killed GM?”

Unfortunately I can’t see anything ever making electric cars or Hybrids cool. My nephew Joey informs me that high school kids refer to the Prius with an affectionate name, more commonly used for feminine hygiene products. It’s like trying to sell Christian Rock: if the kids don’t think it’s cool, nobody ever will.

The perfect spokesman for the Prius was Larry David. A very successful self obsessed pseudo-environmentalist AARPager, is tired of people sneering over his use of private jets and his air conditioned McMansion. So he drives a Prius around town, to convince the world, he really cares about others. Definitely not cool.

Personally I can’t think of any way that Hollywood classics could ever fit an electric car:

Dukes of Hazzard: In the first episode, Boss Hogg catches the boys running moonshine whiskey across the county line. Sherriff Rosco P. Coltrane pursues the General Lee Honda Insight, and easily apprehends them. The rest of the series is based in the county jail.

Thelma and Louse: After an attempted rape on Thelma, Louise decides to emasculate the perpetrator, Harlan, by taking his picture behind the wheel of a Chevy Volt.

Rebel Without a Cause: Jim and Buzz have a chickie run, stealing a couple of Tesla roadsters and racing towards a cliff, to see who can jump out of the car last before the plunge. Both escape the vehicles in plenty of time to watch the cars go humming towards the precipice; before getting stuck on the rocks at the edge.

Grapes of Wrath; The Joad family packs up their electric truck, and head out for California. After about forty miles down Route 66, they run out of electricity, and spend the rest of the movie waiting in line with the other Oakies, for an outlet to become available.

American cars have been idolized in motion pictures because they’re fast and cool and powerful, and epitomize the freedom that founded America. Electric Cars are quiet and orderly, and need to report to an outlet every evening. They are a metaphor for conformity. If conformity was marketable, it wouldn’t be American films that the world finds so compelling, in fact it would be quite the reverse.

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