Woe Is My Car Industry!

P.J. O'Rourke

hide captionIn his new book, Driving Like Crazy, humorist P.J. O'Rourke assembles a collection of pieces that chronicle his more than 30-year love affair with the American car.

Courtesy of P.J. O'Rourke
Book cover of 'Driving Like Crazy' by P.J. O'Rourke
Courtesy of Brilliance Audio

I blame feminism and Facebook for the death of the American automobile. I'm a Republican, so I blame everything on feminism — or commies. But commies are making a profit building cars in China. And I'm a curmudgeon, so I hate all those Inter-netty, dotty-com sort of things. (About time this computer fad blew over, is what I think.)

Anyway, feminism and Facebook killed the car. The whole point of cars — why boys had to have them — was girls. A boy took a girl for a ride in a car. Then they parked somewhere with a view — of submarine races, for instance. Or they ran out of gas. Or something, and ... gender identity! Leading to patriarchal social constructs, and — with luck — some smooching.

Feminism didn't end the smooching. But it did end a lot of marriages. Dad came home from the phallocentric office or factory, and Mom threw a Bella Abzug at him. Feminism also ended job discrimination against women. A woman could get hired as an able-bodied seaman, a man about town — even a strongman in the circus.

So, with Dad off living with his second wife in Phoenix and Mom at work, boys and girls didn't need to go for a ride. The whole house was Lovers' Lane. The last time any serious smooching was done in a car was about 1979, and the kids got tangled in the mandatory shoulder belts, and the air bag went off, and they aren't going steady anymore.

(This is a shame because by the late 1980s, cars — particularly minivans and SUVs — were providing a smooch-friendly environment. What with fold-up seats and fold-down video screens, it was a regular hotel suite in there.)

But why bother when kids could walk to each other's parentally unsupervised homes, or ride a bike or a skateboard. Contemporary teen sexual activity has a small carbon footprint.

The other point of a car, besides taking a girl for a ride in it, was finding a girl to take for a ride. Boys did this by looking cool in cool cars. A few boys — high school football stars and such — could look cool without cars. But these were the boys who had cool cars anyway.

Facebook destroyed "cruising the burger stand." You could have two Corvettes and drive them both at the same time and not look as cool as you could make yourself look on Facebook. Corvettes come with a lot of accessories, but not Photoshop. And what with e-mailing, tweeting, texting and cell phonery, boys and girls could meet each other at the speed of light.

Our tastes, our interests, our passions are formed in youth. Our passion for the automobile is gone. The car has rolled away to die somewhere because we don't love it anymore. Why fill the tank, check the oil, put air in the tires and drive to hell and gone when heaven is just a mouse-click away?

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Driving Like Crazy
Driving Like Crazy

Thirty Years of Vehicular Hellbending, Celebrating America the way It's Supposed To Be -With an Oil Well in Every Backyard, a Cadillac Escalade in Every Carport, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Mowing Our Lawn

by P. J. O'Rourke

Hardcover, 258 pages | purchase

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  • P. J. O'Rourke

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