Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Killing Them, Killing Us

I know I can be obsessed with metaphors, and I see them in places where they may or may not exist. One that reoccurs in my mind all too often is the American obsession with driving over-powered vehicles as a metaphor for our general carbon use, and the problems we will face in ending that use, just as we face problems with driving over-powered vehicles.

Usually I think of this when I hear about a ridiculous but terrible car crash. Not one that happens from inattention or bad weather, but one that's caused by overt jerk behavior, usually men showing off to other men.

Like the 51-year-old man who killed two guys in their 20s while showing them how his Bentley sports car could go almost 100 mph on a windy road at midnight.

Or a story from today's Pioneer Press with this headline: Woodbury teen charged in fatal crash. In this case, a 17-year-old was driving four of his friends to McDonalds at 11:00 p.m. for milkshakes when he decided to show off his stunt driving, going almost 80 mph in a 40 mph zone. He intentionally did it to hit a known dip in the road so he could make his Honda Accord go up in the air. When the car came back down, it gouged the road and spun out of his control. He hit a tree, splitting the car in half and killing one kid instantly while badly injuring the other three. The driver got away with a swollen finger and some pain in his shin.

Or it can be cops chasing fleeing suspects, because that has an aspect of competition and showing off, too, such as our local county sheriff Bob Fletcher and his Facebook Live feed. Ugh.

All of these kinds of driving behavior are glorified in media, of course, from advertising to fiction.

As Angie Schmitt, among others, has written, there's no reason cars can go these speeds in the first place. We know why they can: designs that are based on testosterone and bullshit. And now we see electric vehicles being marketed with the same stuff, as if the 0-to-60 rating is the most important thing.

Giving up that kind of thinking — coming to realize that even being able to travel at 20 mph reliably in climate-controlled comfort is an amazing privilege — would mark a level of societal maturity we lack, but need to achieve.


Jean said...

I'm just here to say a big loud YUP. I particularly hate those giant trucks, especially the ones that belch black smoke, which I'm pretty sure the drivers have to modify in order to make that happen. It's just horrible.

Daughter Number Three said...

Yes, the black smoke is definitely on purpose... it's called "rolling coal." https://daughternumberthree.blogspot.com/2016/09/is-there-other-america.html