Car Commercials Have Swerved Right off the Road

Sure, why not drive recklessly in the snow with your cute little toddler?

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I’m glad the Sixers are almost respectable now, and I’m loving following Villanova’s men’s basketball team, except for one thing: the car commercials. I guess because the audiences for sporting events are largely male, auto manufacturers don’t seem to have me in their sights when they brainstorm creative concepts.

I can remember clearly when shopping for a car was just a matter of being able to withstand that simpering, simpleminded Toyotathon Jan. She’s still going strong, but she has competition now from Matthew McConaughey, who’s having deep, cryptic thoughts while sitting in the backseat of his Lincoln in a one-minute commercial directed by the cinematographer for The Dark Knight (oooh!) and filmed on a glacial plain in Iceland (ahhhh!). Oh, sure, he’s cool now, but remember when he was just a stoner playing naked bongos? Also, he says we should all “embrace” Donald Trump, which even some Republicans would balk at. Guess that’s what happens once you start driving really expensive cars.

But I’m totally befuddled by that sweet commercial — I guess it’s supposed to be sweet?—in which a preteen boy cajoles his dad into driving him to a movie theater in a hellacious blizzard because the girl he’s given his heart to — at the tender age of 11 — is supposed to meet him there. We parents are now supposed to allow adolescent hormones to overrule common sense? Putting your precious child in a car — even so fortress-like a beast as a four-wheel-drive Mercedes — and risking his death and yours so he can grope the budding breast of the love of his abbreviated life in a darkened theater isn’t exactly my idea of parental responsibility. But perhaps things are different now that our nation’s being led by the Groper in Chief.

And then there’s that nightmare scenario in which a clearly demented daddy who’s been left in charge of his adorable daughter sticks his head into the family freezer, inhales deeply, then, clearly high on the tetrafluoroethane, proposes that he and the kid take a “snow day,” by which he means plow their Kia through six-foot snowbanks and careen around hairpin turns on icy roads while she screams in glee. Which I can totally see, because a three-year-old has no concept of how freaking dangerous what they’re doing is, but dammit, that bad dad should. I never see that commercial without expecting Children’s Services to show up and whisk the little girl away.

But none of the above can hold a candle to the absolute worst, most ill-conceived car commercial of all. I’m talking about the “focus group” one for Chevy in which a bunch of harebrained millennials leap back and gasp in wonder as a slicked-back spokesman unveils not one, not two, but five kinds of Chevy Silverado trucks rolling down ramps and popping up through the floor. (“I love how each one has its own personality,” one guy says. It’s a truck, you dumb cluck.) Turns out Chevy’s focus-group commercials have inspired a whole hatefest on the Internet — as Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky put it, “I’ve learned to expect more enjoyment from a groin rash.” The anti-campaign includes everything from parodies to cartoon versions to investigative journalism. (Those “real people”? Not real people.) If I were a millennial, I’d sue Chevy for generational defamation. Since I don’t have standing, I can only issue this plea: Young people, bless your hearts, I know you’re busy protesting the new administration, and I thank you for it. But in your spare time, make sure you don’t buy cars from companies that make inane commercials, okay?