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Casual Aggression

A few weeks ago, I saw a teenager with a white-font slogan on a black t-shirt. Shirts passing off themselves and the wearer as witty are nothing new and are rarely funny — though they are downright hilarious when they are ironic in a sad, “Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel” sort of way. This particular wearer — a plain-faced, lanky kid that looked as though shampoo was a luxury — sported the sloganized wear, “Everybody Sucks All the Time.”

This struck a nerve with me — after the initial silent giggling, of course. The angst dripping from the words could only be worn by a teenager (“Like, Oh-M-Gee and whatever!”), along with the naivete of the interpretation. How is the average person supposed to take it if they are being told by a $10 that they “suck all the time”? If they have somewhat healthy self-esteem, they would look at the owner and leave it at that. After all, whoever would want to possess a garment like that has anger issues that a shirt won’t work out.

However, it could also be seen as a common — and increasing — trend in society: the practice of casual aggression. I interpret casual aggression as spreading a message inspired by hate/anger/angst through passive-aggressive means, and you can see it almost everywhere. From clothing to our media forms and societal trends, we not only communicate things we wouldn’t dare speak, we often become indignant when we are called out for it. Racism, sexism, bigotry, biases — it can all be masked and/or deflected with a few words and distancing.

That t-shirt example? It’s as old as printed t-shirts themselves. You name the type of clothing, and I’ll show you one used for calling something or someone out.

WHY, brotha?!

WHY. brotha?!

Whether it’s hate speech, snide remarks (“I’m with stupid,” anyone?), something sexual in nature or good old fashioned jackassery, socks, shirts or pants, the words are there to provoke a reaction. The worst thing is that if you question the person about the garment and your reaction irks the wearer, there is a lack of understanding/accountability for the message they are putting out. (This can be a particularly-sensitive topic when it comes to sexually suggestive clothing with slogans on shirts or pants buttocks.) There is certainly the idea of free speech, and that’s all well and good, but in some cases…

*sigh*

*sigh*

…don’t be surprised when I exercise my right with my words.

And it only goes from there. Websites like Facebook and Twitter encourage aggression through the anonymity of the internet. It’s easy to paint an extreme version of your viewpoint online when you are hiding behind a computer screen – often thousands of miles from other people. And with said power, the weight of our words take on that much more weight when we do not know who is reading those words — let alone their individual backgrounds, past experiences, cultures, etc.

Hell, we see this practiced in the media all the time. During a President’s Day sale for Sanderson Ford in the Phoenix, Arizona area, a xenophobic radio advertisement derided people thinking about buying cars that weren’t American, followed by the stereotypical Asian music jingle (think Mickey Rooney’s Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Though Arizona in general is as enlightened as Larry the Cable Guy, the lack of foresight to see how offensive that would be to anyone outweighed the poor attempt at humor — and magnified how scared that dealer was of the foreign car competition by stooping to racism. I wonder how they reacted if someone had a few negative comments of that ad.

When I think of Asian people, I immediately think of Mickey Rooney.

When I think of Asian people, I immediately think of Mickey Rooney.

Another example of this subtle form of aggression in the media is one that is gathering traction with a particular segment of the population: Fox News. Though network and cable news networks are manipulated by corporate backers and agendas, few court people that are as ignorant (willfully or unknowingly) and resistant to change Rupert Murdoch’s news outlet. The conflicting message of its channel slogans and talking heads bounce between hard-hitting journalism and lighthearted entertainment, and those messages take potshots and words out of context when it comes to politics. The increasing outrage/Republican talking-point targeted messages/sponsorship of anti-government meet-ups and sometimes charged accusations come off like a spoiled trust fund kid who was written out of the will. For a viewer not in on the joke, it is easy to confuse the ludicrous and the… well… more ludicrous. Worse than that, the network can easily hide behind their line of “It’s only entertainment” or “We’re balanced!” and wave it away like “Obi-Wan” Kenobi using The Force. But perhaps that is easily overlooked considering the source and the target.

WOW...

WOW...

It all is a symptom of an increasing lack of accountability by our culture. We wear our true feelings on the outside or funnel them through third-parties, and immediately separate ourselves from it — no matter how close it is to us. And examples of deflecting blame are seen every day, from big business to government, sports stars and in our own homes. Is it any wonder that it is rare when someone is NOT defensive about something they champion?

We’ve all been guilty of it at some point; heck, I’ve done it more times than I am proud of. But owning up to views and actions without the need for clothing or someone/something else is something that is more commendable than however witty or cool that thing might be — even if you are with stupid.

Riding in Cars with Weirdos 2: The Time Machine

There are so many consumer products that express our personalities, from clothing to creepy figurines stored in menageries. One of the most expensive — and therefore most often used — examples of expression is the automobile. Whether it is the decorations adorning the hunks of metal and rubber, to the threat the machine poses on the roads due to its driver, cars are the heaviest and most visible ways people show who they really are.

Here are a few examples of said means of making a statement:

Car Port Holes

Makes your car an even bigger eyesore!

Remember the stately cars of the ’50s and ’60s, awash in chrome like a shimmering pond? Most likely, those Cadillac and Buick luxury yachts of old had port holes, square or circular holes (usually three or four) running along the sides of the car above the front wheels. They signified elegance, power and decadence.

Today, that aire of richness is gone, as you can see these former glories on Chrysler Lebarons, Ford Tempos and Dodge Neons. You can buy them in bulk at your local car supply store or — GASP! — Wal-Mart, giving every wannabe baller the means to show off their fake bling. And like said wanna-balla, they will hog the lanes of the highway, doing whatever they damn well please with no care in the world. And why should they? They have their pimpin’ port holes!

Car Reindeer Horns

Santa’s forgotten reindeer: Volksjackass.

Stressed to find things to accessorize with your cheesy Christmas sweater? How about your cheesy car?! Now you can embarrass yourself AND your family members by dressing your ride like a robotic reindeer of death. After all, your car can’t fight off the whims of the holiday cheer — though some would consider it automobile cruelty — and why should it?

Another reason why you won’t see this monstrosity in the skies with Dasher and Blitzen? Because their drivers are goddamn slow! Best to leave them in the slowpoke lane, lest you want to curse out the owner and unfortunate victim of owner abuse. And why would you? THAT’S not very Christmasy.

Car Bullet Holes

Need to show everyone at your high school or mixed martial arts class how hard you are? Slap some of these babies on your ride and bask in the terrorist fist jabs of respect!

Perhaps some people think of fake bullet holes as speed holes to make their cars faster, and those people would be morons. Also moronic: their affinity for reckless driving. Don’t be surprised to see a few dings alongside those bullet holes, as the car is most likely a hooptie. And if they don’t care about the car and how silly it looks, you should care about your safety that much more.

In Memory Of

Rachel’s ghost hands, trying to escape her tomb.

Want to immortalize a loved one or friend but don’t have the cash for a casket? Then turn your car into a graveyard shrine on wheels with vinyl decals! Yes, companies prey upon the grief of humans with tacky stickers — which people buy! These same people display their grief for drivers to see for years to come! And it’s totally creepy!

And these drivers expect you to care about their car, their lives and their loss — by driving SLOW AS HELL. It’s like they’re driving the hearse to their family member’s grave site, and we’re the grievers in the parade. A few speed holes will get them moving.

Ridiculous Stickers

Such the drinking apparatus for an uptown gentleman!

Comedian Patton Oswalt once said that half of the United States has an I.Q. of 100 and over. Somehow, we’ve allowed those of double-digit intelligence drive 1.5 ton metallic and steel contraptions — let alone decorate them with whatever thoughts their brains rub together like kindling to function.

See the mug above? I saw this statement on someone’s pickup truck a few months ago in vinyl decals. Never mind that the guy probably wasn’t husband of the year; this isn’t the statement you want to show off to potential dates/ex-wives to come. And they will drive like you were coming after them for alimony. So classy!

Brake Nutz

THIS is why the terrorists hate our freedom.

Speaking of classy, this is not that. AT ALL. From the creators of Truck Nutz, those elegant replicas of dangling testicle flesh, comes the most moronic display of male genitalia… for the next six months when something even more stupid comes out.

Yes, when you want to warn people when you are about to slow down, let them focus their eyes on your red, angry glowing balls! Hey, at least someone in that truck will have them!

While these are generalities made at the expense of ordinary people, you have been warned. Be wary and a defensive driver, and you too can live to tell the tales of the weirdos.

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