When We Sell Our Dignity

The rumors of our demise were greatly exaggerated.  In other words, the break is over, time to get back to work.  Posting may still not be at the fast and furious (heh, car joke) level that it was, but things have changed a bit in the real world for my intrepid cowritter and me.  Fear not, valued reader: our posts shall still contain the same level of vitriolic hatred (or unabashed fanboism, either way) if not more!  After all, with more time between posting, why not make the posts better?  If not that, at least get a better content editor so we look less stupid.

But I digress.  Steve has returned from the top of a mountain and will most likely be sleeping for the next month so that leaves me sitting here with the keys to this whole affair.  This isn’t a horrible thing, because I still remember the password to our side of the website so I can still post, and post I shall!  Today’s topic?  Whores and escorts.*

First, I need to warn you that this will not be one of those posts that have a few pictures to break up text.  Every time I typed in “whores and escorts” into a Google image search, it came back with scantily clad women of varying ages leaning against a Ford econobox.

Now, for those of you who stuck around after that last phrase before the jump, allow me to explain.  I’m not speaking of women of the night and ladies of ill repute.  I’d like to look at these terms as we use them in the auto enthusiast world.  For those who still aren’t following, I’m talking about brand whores.  You know exactly what I’m talking about.  People who shamelessly and without regret fawn over a specific automotive brand, singing praise of their engineering far and wide and relentlessly denying the existence of brands, or vehicles from other manufacturers, that are superior.  Any quibbles of their chosen love are quickly brushed aside as nonissues.  Who cares if they stuck a Porsche badge on a Touareg and pimped it out to the masses (more on that later), it is still a Porsche!  Woe to those who admit the failure of BMW to maintain a brand image and bring out wrong wheel drive cars, they fit the market segment!  May the gods damn ye who point out that sheer awesomeness if Chevy finally pulled their shit together and went technological with the LS engine line! ROTARIES ARE RELIABLE!

I call them whores for two reasons.  First, if I said fanboy, would you have as eagerly clicked on the jump?  Secondly, and more importantly, it is because they fit the image we have in modern society of those aforementioned ladies (or men, not to be sexist) of the night.  They are used, by marketing teams and street advertisers and all other groups to get a quick fix.  That quick fix is free advertising.  We are all guilty of it.  I have three pairs of Pumas, a tee shirt, and a polo shirt with the Ferrari logo on them.  I have a shirt that says “Camaro, by Chevy”.  Steve has a Subaru rally mechanic’s shirt.  I have a BMW ‘M’ hat.  Do we get paid anything to wear these things?  No.  Did we get a dime to basically walk around as billboards for the above brands?  If we did, it didn’t get to me.  Our pay comes in the form of getting a high five (if we are lucky) for wearing the appropriate garb at a ride and drive event, or getting some sort of special access to press vehicles of a higher caliber if we are in the position to get press vehicles at all.  Some even get invited to special events, paid for by the brand they espouse.  These events hardly cost a manufacturer anything, and in return we go out and hardily voice our love of all things RenCen, the sheer awesomeness of anything Bavarian, and the unquestionable superiority of anything that rolls out of Maranello.  Brand whores are named so because they are just that.  They take little pay for their dignity, selling themselves to advertise for someone who doesn’t love them.

So let’s talk about escorts.  No, not the above mentioned Ford Econobox, but the other kind of escorts.  Some time ago, an enterprising group found out that you could get around those pesky prostitution laws by saying that you weren’t paying for sex, you were paying for someone’s time.  If anything happened, well, then it was between two consenting adults.  How does that fit in with our idea of brand whores?  The way I see it, enthusiasts have our own sort of escorts.  You know the type just as well, the ones who bemoan the failure of their favored automotive love.  Porsche hasn’t made a real Porsche since the 993.  The new Viper will have too much technonanny in it to be a properly awesome car.  The Nissan Z car has been getting bigger and heavier and further from its sporting roots.  THE RX8 DOESN’T HAVE TURBOS!

They hold these positions to lend legitimacy to their arguments in the same way some will say “I’m not religious, I’m spiritual”.  They do it because it allows them to outwardly express displeasure with the manufacturers, but at the same time not hold a negative position towards the manufacturers.  Sure, they say, they screwed us over with the new Civic Si being a fat pig of a car and hardly being relatable to the sporty Civic of old, but it is ok because we know they can do it right.  That right there is the “paying for the time”.  You are still giving the manufacturer the free advertising, but you aren’t giving up the goods yet.  These escorts will admit a brand’s engineering failures as a sort of lip service in the same way the escort will defend him or herself by saying they aren’t being paid for the goods.  If the manufacturer just wants to throw something little their way, then it isn’t because they were out espousing the fact that Dodge makes the last true American Muscle car or that the AMG is more fun to drive than the M, it was because deep down the manufacturer cares about how the automotive escort feels.

But the truth is the marketing mavens in Michigan, Germany, Japan, and Korea don’t care.  They are just as bad, paying us lip service about how we, as enthusiasts (be it as a whore or escort) care.  They will make up to it from time to time by buying us something pretty like a GTR or a M car or a Corvette, but the truth is we will never be the volume buyers for them.  So they give us our pretty thing, and go back to popping out Toyondisan Camcordimas.  The difference is this doesn’t bother the brand whore.  Why not?  Because it helps their brand do well.  It makes them the money to pop out a Supra or 911 GT2 RS every now and then.  Meanwhile, in order to lend legitimacy to what they do, the automotive escorts bitch and moan about how new cars suck and are boring to drive.  In the end, you have to have more respect for the brand whore.  Hell, at least they know they are getting screwed.

2 Responses to When We Sell Our Dignity

  1. So we’ve had quite a bit of buzz on facebook regarding this post. I’d like to move things here if possible.

    We have some people saying you’re a brand whore if you buy something and don’t track the car. We have some people saying it’s fine. And we have others posting totally incomprehensible blobs of text (this is common practice).

    I’d say there are two scenarios. The first is you know nothing about what’s currently available but you have preconceived ideas regarding a particular brand. In this instance I could see someone wanting a RWD car entering a BMW dealership with no idea what they currently offer. Why? Because BMW has ONLY made RWD cars since….forever. So a consumer would think, “Hey, that’s a good place to start my search.”

    The above is not a brand whore.

    Scenario two is the person who has defined their “wants” and knows that the Nissan GTR is legitimately a better car than the Audi R8. But they can’t bring themselves to own a Nissan. This type of person will choose the inferior product based on the brand alone.

    The above IS a brand whore.

  2. Robert Fortier says:

    Based on the FB commentaries, neither of the scenarios presented on The ‘Book represent Brand Whores. Simply, if I want a nice, entry level luxury car, my current realistic choices are BMW, MB, Audi, Lexus, Infiniti, and for arguments sake we will say Caddy. I like the performance but not the avant guard design of the Inifniti. The MB is uncomfortable, the Audi I’ve heard horror stories. I wont buy a Caddy on principle alone. Lexus is nice, but the BMW was nicer, or I liked the salesperson more, or whatever. So I buy the 328i. Does that make me a badge whore? No. What if I just like the brand of BMW. I like the racing efforts, I like the styling, I come from a family that has always bought BMW. Am I a brand whore? No. It is what I like. Buying a BMW (or any brand) but then not buying the top of line version or the race version or whatever does not make one a brand whore, and anyone who says other wise is wrong.

    Now, Steve’s above argument is right. If I just simply can’t buy the GTR just because it says Nissan on the back, then yes, that is being a brand whore. If I test drive a GTR and a 911 turbo back to back, and I just find the turbo more fun to drive, then even though I may want a DDable super car, and the GTR is the better DDable supercar than the 911 based on whatever quantifiable metric but is not the “more fun” car for me, then it isn’t being a brand whore, it is buying the car I’m going to enjoy more.

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