As the big three automakers beg for American taxpayers to rescue them because they are going bankrupt, they claim they are busy developing innovative cars that will save the environment. Yet their ads are still replete with people driving gas-guzzling monstrosities fouling the earth while they are intoxicated with addictive sensations of speed and power.

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The Stanton Peele Addiction Website, November 18, 2008. This blog post also appeared on Stanton's Addiction in Society blog at PsychologyToday.com.

Addictive-Driving Ads -- Detroit Fouls the Environment

Cadilac speedingAs the big three automakers beg American taxpayers to rescue them from bankruptcy, they claim they are developing innovative cars that will save the environment. Yet their ads are still replete with people driving gas-guzzling monstrosities fouling the earth while they are intoxicated with addictive sensations of speed and power.

Cadillac introduced its famous 2008 Super Bowl ad, which is still shown regularly, of a woman (in Detroit, showing a female yahoo is considered innovative) hurtling through a city purring: "The question is, when you turn your car on, does it return the favor." Americans seek sexual gratification from displays of power and consumption. Forget actual sex -- that's unAmerican!

But the worst ads show "nature loving" car owners driving massive hunks of steel recklessly into the farthest reaches of the environment to "enjoy" the pleasures of the "outdoors." Instead they are defiling these spots, which they could never bother to visit if they had to get there on their own steam.

And the worst of the worst ads is the one depicting screaming joy riders (seemingly drunk) cascade through sand dunes, river beds, and beaches scoring the earth with tire tracks while going too fast to enjoy anything around them. As in all these ads, the environment is merely a backdrop to the addictive sensations of speed and recklessness.

ALL four-wheeler, Jeep, Hummer and Humvee owners are immoral unless they are in the business of taking groups of people into tricky territory. The same is true of all GM and Ford truck owners other than those who regularly transport heavy loads. And, while I'm at it, damn the country music stars and other conservative stalwarts who boast that they continue to drive gas guzzlers like these to express their ethos: "What me worry about the earth? I'm an American firster. Real Americans don't care if their selfishness destroys the environment."

Their addiction to personal gratification and power in motor vehicles is as unChristian as their bellicose foreign policy views.