THOSE NASTY SUV OWNERS….David Brooks

THOSE NASTY SUV OWNERS….David Brooks writes about SUVs in the Wall Street Journal:

The main charge is that people who drive sport “utes” are moral savages. SUV drivers “tend to be people who are insecure and vain” not to mention “self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbors and communities,” writes Keith Bradsher in his book, “High and Mighty: SUVs–The World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way.” Thoughtful people are usually skeptical about broad generalizations about people’s souls on the basis of what car they drive.

Ah, but that’s where Brooks take a wrong turn (ha ha). That profile is based on car industry market research, and while “thoughtful people” might not make those kinds of broad generalizations, marketing people do it all the time.

And you know what? Despite what we all want to think, it works pretty well. I know, I know, you are far too complex and nuanced a human being to be ranked and pigeonholed by some mindless demographic/survey/clustering booshwa. Maybe other people, but not you. But you’re wrong. And so is Brooks. We are what we drive. And eat. And watch. And where we live. You better get used to it.

(But there’s no need to be downcast about it. In fact, if you want to have some consumer marketing fun, click here to go to the Claritas “You Are Where You Live” site, type in your ZIP code, and see what they think of you. It’s fun for the whole family!)

POSTSCRIPT: The industry profile of SUV drivers is actually a lot worse than Brooks makes it sound. Ampersand has the best summary here, which you should go read for a chuckle or two.

And me? I don’t own an SUV, but the car I do own certifies me as a genuine rapist of the environment and has almost certainly inspired some rather unflattering market research portraits as well. But we all have our vices.

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