Friday, June 12, 2009

The Fiat-ization of the American male

Can a nation of dudes whose sexual self-image was built on macho Jeeps survive the rise of the Little Mouse?

By Gary Kamiya

NewsOn Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court in its wisdom poured a large bucket of iced Pellegrino on that most delicate of objects, the American male libido. I refer to the court's removal of the last legal obstacle to an impending deal in which the Italian automaker Fiat will take control of Chrysler, the once mighty Detroit company that currently reposes on blocks, its precious fluids drained and tires removed, in that ever expanding vacant lot known as bankruptcy.

Whether or not this deal makes business sense for Chrysler's employees and shareholders — who now include the American people — is not within my area of expertise. But a much more serious problem looms: the potentially deflating effects on 100 million American men of outsourcing their sexual self-image to a company whose most famous product was known as the "little mouse."

Ever since the first American car clanked off an assembly line, American males have been programmed to associate virility with large, overpowered steel-and-chrome automobiles, preferably adorned with tumescent hood ornaments and protruding, D-cup-size bumper boobs. Buffeted by divorce, feminism, potbellies, a useless repertoire of lame pickup lines and the thousand other natural shocks that flesh is heir to, the long-suffering American male has always known he could find solace in the long, rigid-chassis object reposing in his garage. Indeed, only their function as a kind of auxiliary national phallus can explain why Detroit's gas-guzzling dinosaurs have survived as long as they have.


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