Chat Write Man Woman

Hail Prius, Full of Grace

with 11 comments

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.

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Written by Dale

August 28, 2008 at 10:46 pm

Posted in life

11 Responses

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  1. I love my Presbyterian! I’m going to move to state that will allow me to marry it.

    coles14

    August 28, 2008 at 10:48 pm

  2. Hmmm, as a Catholic AND a Toyota owner, I have to say that pretty much this entire essay offends me. I’m going to go make a vanity plate about my rage.

    Donna

    August 29, 2008 at 10:09 am

  3. We should all express our emotions in six or seven letter strings; that’s a great idea! You don’t drive a hybrid Toyota, however, so I’m not sure how my notion applies to you.

    Dale

    August 29, 2008 at 11:02 am

  4. My husband’s Prius and I are laughing over here. I’ve threatened to get him vanity plates with his ham radio call sign, which the gov’t actually takes as a civic act (but still charges an extra $15 for.)

    What I want is an electric car to plug into the about-to-be solar-panelled house. That would make me what, a Mormon? Wait, already did that…

    AlisonH

    September 10, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  5. ha! very funny. found you thru the yarnharlot’s site. Very Green People who need to fly are doing the same thing: buying those carbon offsets or whatever they’re called (indulgences, i’ve been calling them…swear!). basically just makes them feel better without really accomplishing anything.
    nice february baby sweater, btw.

    builtforcomfort

    September 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm

  6. The whole vanity plate thing amuses me no end. I collect extremely clever (in my judgement) ones. Like the one that said “PATHDK” (pathetic – although why one would put that on a license plate I have no idea). If my notebook was in the house instead of the car I could mention a few more. I have a friend who is a personal trainer whose husband got her a plate for Christmas one year – UBEFIT. An original gift, at least.

    And just so you know (so I am not the only one) there is a series of mystery books out there in which the main character has a job (which she eventually is able to give up) vetting vanity plates. Usually the chapter headings are vanity plates which sometimes have to be explained (to me at least). I wish I could tell you the title or author, but I won’t recall it until I run across another of her books.

    And lucky you, exchanging sock photos. As someone said in a another blog I read recently, you’ve been Harlotted!

    Karen Lauterwasser

    September 10, 2008 at 2:46 pm

  7. Couldn’t resist. The mysteries I mentioned in the comment above are written by April Henry. Didn’t want to leave you searching for that information if you like to read mysteries.

    Karen Lauterwasser

    September 10, 2008 at 3:23 pm

  8. Hmmm, good thoughts on the Prius. Wired magazine did an article in their April issue http://www.wired.com/science/planetearth/magazine/16-06/ff_heresies_09usedcars about how it is more “green” to buy a used car with reasonable gas usage than to buy a new Prius over the lifetime of the car.

    tara

    September 11, 2008 at 5:15 am

  9. So you don’t even see it as an attempt by the auto makers to smarten up? I’m one of, oh, hundreds of thousands – oh what the heck – probably millions who doesn’t believe the corporate bull and rhetoric, but at least the whole basis of less emissions is more appealing to me than someone who sits back and writes belittleing comments about OTHER people’s honest attemps to make good while complaining about the price of gas – which by the way, has forced people to drive LESS, take more public transportation and walk to work. Before you start sticking it to people who are doing the best they can with what’s offered, think about how little it seems to others what you’re doing to help protect this environment. North America is not solely responsible for the state of the planet. With a combined population, we are probably only 1/6th of the planet. But thank you for making those of us who are trying feel like it’s not good enough in the eyes of people acting like God’s personal smiter.

    Rhonda

    September 11, 2008 at 12:07 pm

  10. Hey! I just got a Prius…for the MILEAGE, thank you!Certainly I’m not especially “green”
    …(I can’t, really, I’m on oxygen, which means I now need air conditioning, etc, stuff I avoided all these years because of the pollution.) That said, I enjoyed the vanity plates stuff. One of my all-time faves was “oboe” on an oboe player’s car; it just sounded funny (say it fast a few times). Now a friend has “BWV 202” on his car, which is Bach’s wedding cantata. My LYS has little magnetic car signs which say “ssk”. Cheaper than vanity plates!

    Emily

    September 12, 2008 at 5:53 pm

  11. Thanks for all the comments. So glad most of you saw the tongue firmly planted in my cheek as I wrote this post. I don’t drive a Prius, but am a composter/recycler/trashpile divin’/tree huggin’/latte drinking/Subaru driving liberal, and find myself not so vaguely ridiculous, too, in my sanctimonious save the world clothing.

    One thing I should point out is that I’m the man in Chat Write Man Woman, while it was the woman, aka my wife Jennifer, who knits and saw the Harlot in London. I’m a non-knitter, but occasionally read knitting blogs (Harlot, Panopticon – ooh, his post on rimming sugar from a few years ago still makes me snort coffee out my nose just thinking of it), so am somewhat hip to the ways of the knitter.

    Dale

    September 16, 2008 at 2:20 pm


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