Volume 74, Number 43 | March 02 - 08, 2005

Talking Point

Honda’s dummies and the pedestrians

By Andrei Codrescu

The familiar voice of a famous actor, speaking for the Honda car company, claims that hitting a pedestrian with your Honda causes less damage. Most companies, the ad explains, use crash-test dummies inside the car, whereas Honda has been using them outside the car. This explanation is followed by a pedestrian dummy flying through the air after it’s hit by a Honda and surviving, supposedly, with less deadly effect than if it had been hit by a, let’s say, Pontiac.

What is going on here? I thought that the idea of driving a car supposed a priori that you’re not supposed to hit pedestrians. I have no doubt that juveniles of all ages have often speculated, from the safety of their cars, what it might be like to hit this and that pedestrian for whatever reason their armor-plated brains might conceive. Happily, though, that kind of thinking rarely leaves the confines of the automobile and it never rises above a whisper unless it’s part of a moronic comedy routine I don’t know about. Clearly, drivers are antagonistic to pedestrians and it takes the full weight of civilization to keep them shamed enough to behave. The reptilian brain is being suppressed here for a good reason. And if that’s not enough, there is the law to consider. It’s a crime to hit a pedestrian.

But now here comes Honda, resurrecting for mercenary reasons the worst instincts of drivers. The subtext of their ad is that sooner or later you’ll hit a pedestrian, so you better be driving a Honda when you do. The ad banks fully on the deep hostility of drivers against the vulnerable flesh creatures who happen to trust their fellows enough to walk about unplated. Or who have no choice because most of the United States is a brutal veldt without public transportation. Not a place for nondrivers. Most of the United States isn’t the city of Portland.
And why would a car company, pray, test crash dummies outside cars? Safety? I doubt it. In my opinion, Honda testers were having fun indulging in every moron driver’s fantasy of hitting pedestrians, when they had the bright idea of selling the game as some kind of concern. In the process, they did what the best ads do best: they brought to light the reptilian subsconscious.

www.codrescu.com, www.corpse.org

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