John Gulick jlgulick at
Tue May 22 18:32:15 PDT 2001

Joanna Bjues said:

>There was this New Yorker cartoon that caught one aspect of the SUV
>phenomenon: It showed a disgruntled middle aged male sitting next to his
>buddy in an SUV that towers above the rest of the traffic (but stalled in
>the middle of this traffic) and saying, "You think I would have gotten one
>of these if I knew they were going to come out with a $9 boner pill?"
>Now Viagra has been around for a while and folks are still buying SUVs... I
>guess the application of Viagra still requires some intimacy...whereas SUVs....
>I don't know. Again, if you take Robinson Crusoe as one of the founding
>capitalist myths, the SUV and everything it offers, subverts that myth:
>it's headed back to the island. It also always struck me that it is the
>post-holocaust vehicle of choice. There's this fantasy wrapped up in it
>that after the bombs go off, or the darkies riot, or whatever, you can pack
>your family in your SUV and head for the hills.

I sez:

In my estimation, I'm afraid the SUV has far more flexibility as both a mode of transport and as a cultural signifier to be reducible to the "surrogate phallus" hypothesis, which is precisely why it's so damn pervasive. I think I read somewhere that as many women as men purchase and/or drive SUV's. (Granted, there is all kind of market differentiation within the general product line -- more "feminine" and "masculine" prototypes, if you will).
>From my strictly anecdotal perspective I see as many yuppie women tooling around
in SUV's as I do macho men. I see it as no coincidence that SUV sales really took off during the reign of Clinton, an era during which cosmopolitan high-tech capitalism of Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street symbolically triumphed over the hinterland paleo-capitalism of West Texas oil fields and Pacific Northwest logging camps, which have since got their comeuppance.

I am putting this topic to bed, for myself -- my damn dissertation awaits.

John Gulick

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