Hail Prius, Full of Grace
Vanity plates on cars crack me up. We live in a nation of people who generally think they are overtaxed, and some small percentage of us thinks it’s fun to pay an additional tax so that we can cram seven or eight characters onto a license plate and show our stuff. The problem is, all most vanity plates really say is something patently obvious. For example, a Porsche with VROOOM or a 1967 Mustang with 67STANG. Well, duh. Some are vile, some silly, but nearly all are utterly banal.
Recently, however, I’ve seen a bunch of Toyota Priuses (or is that Priae?) with vanity tags extolling the virtue of the driver’s choice to consume that car. The one that I can recall said IMGREEN. Oh, really? How does driving a fossil-fuel burning car make one green? Sure, one burns less gas per mile than a Hummer, but infinitely more than a bike or a pair of legs or just not driving, so, like, whatever. I’m not really clear how a large metal box full of lead-acid batteries can be construed as being green. It’s called being less toxic, but certainly not green. Oh, and thanks to South Park I can’t see a Prius without thinking of the smug emissions. This plate just put them over the top.
I was chatting about this on the phone the other day with my friend WM–while driving through western Kansas in my not-so-much-green Subaru–and it occurred to me that Toyota is really just the reincarnation of the Reformation-era (thanks, WM) Catholic church. You know, the church that sold salvation in the form of indulgences. Pillage, maraud, kill peasants: who cares, just buy an indulgence and you’re in good with god. Only now, rather than salvation, we seek to assuage our consumption-related guilt by buying the right product, as if spending more money on objects made out of metal, plastic, glass, etc. is the path to righteousness. They even offer the indulgences in various sizes–Prius and Highlander–so anyone can feel they’ve made the right choice. It’s all a bit silly, and Toyota is getting richer than, well, god by selling these cars for obscene prices, which really just makes them seem all the more like the Catholic church of yore. I wonder when they’ll start building their cathedrals.
I guess this makes Honda the Presbyterians.