Ah ha, hush that fuss

The automotive industry is the largest advertiser in the world. Auto makers spend billions upon billions of dollars to convince us that cars (and trucks) are the keys to happiness, freedom, success, and an unlimited supply of hot chicks. Apparently, they’re also responsible for the Civil Rights Movement.

Or something.

You see, GM is now using Rosa Parks in an ad for a Chevy pick-up. Seth Stevenson reviewed the ad for Slate.

The spot: Singer John Mellencamp leans on the fender of a Chevy pickup, strumming an acoustic guitar. He sings, among other things, “This is our country.” Meanwhile, a montage of American moments flies by: Rosa Parks on a bus. Martin Luther King preaching to a crowd. Soldiers in Vietnam. Richard Nixon waving from his helicopter. And then modern moments: New Orleans buried by Katrina floodwaters. The two towers of light commemorating 9/11. As a big, shiny pickup rolls through an open field of wheat and then slows to a carefully posed stop, the off-screen announcer says, “This is our country. This is our truck. The all-new Chevy Silverado.”

This ad makes me–and, judging by my e-mail, some of you–very angry. It’s not OK to use images of Rosa Parks, MLK, the Vietnam War, the Katrina disaster, and 9/11 to sell pickup trucks. It’s wrong. These images demand a little reverence and quiet contemplation. They are not meant to be backed with a crappy music track and then mushed together in a glib swirl of emotion tied to a product launch. Please, Chevy, have a modicum of shame next time.

Amen.

Rosa Parks Bus (source: Montgomery Transit)

 

I say, if you’re going to exploit the image of a woman who is no longer alive to defend herself, at least have the decency to do it in an ad for the vehicle she is associated with. It was, after all, a GM bus she was riding on the day of her historic arrest.

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