Bumper sticker activism: is Subaru now the new Volvo?
By David Menzies for MSN Autos
Is Subaru the new Volvo? At least it seems so in terms of wannabe social justice crusaders, who long to change the world... one bumper-sticker slogan at a time.
Anecdotal evidence (i.e., your correspondent driving around, not minding his own business) would suggest this is indeed the case. I’ve noticed when it comes to various social/political activism issues espoused by a bumper sticker, often that vehicle is sporting a Subaru badge.
Just this month, I spotted three activism bumper stickers; all three were affixed to Subarus.
As the saying goes: “One is an anomaly; two is a coincidence; three is a trend.”
Up first: a red Subaru Impreza with a somewhat cryptic sticker proclaiming, “Jumbo Grizzlies not Gondolas.”
I had no idea what that meant, until I consulted with the Wise and All-Knowing Great Wizard of Oz (er, would you believe the Wondrous Search Engine Bing?)
Truth be told, I’m partial to mega-resorts and for what it’s worth I would think that having access to a gondola if confronted even by a medium-sized grizzly bear let alone a jumbo version would be a very good thing indeed. Then again, haven’t we learned anything from Poltergeist, The Shining, and Pet Sematary when it comes to building stuff on sacred native land? But I digress...
Bears and gondolas aside, I later spotted a Subaru Outback bearing a sticker with the acronym WWAGD? Turns out this stands for, “What Would Al Gore Do?” (Just in case this is a serious query, the answer is: “Preach environmentalism and then amass a carbon footprint 27 times greater than the average American.”) But I digress yet again...
Finally, the most recent Subaru I spotted sporting a social cause bumper sticker was a Forester. And this vehicle was the inspiration for this rant... and the genesis for my Subaru-is-the-new-Volvo theory due to the content of the sticker. Namely, a humpback whale superimposed over the phrase, “Extinction is forever.”
You see, back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, it became a sad cliché that a Volvo station wagon would invariably bear one of two bumper stickers: “Save the whales” or “No Nukes.” The wagon was typically urine-yellow in colour and almost always found in the passing lane going 10 klicks under the speed limit... which explains why some anti-Volvo wagon people would sport bumper stickers on their rides proclaiming “Nuke the Whales.”
In any event, Volvo was perhaps the vehicle of choice for social activists because when you think of Volvo you think of safety and I just have this gut feeling folks concerned about marine mammals and nuclear energy are likely big on safety, too.
Fast forward a couple of decades and Subaru has finally carved out an identity for itself as the “all-wheel-drive” people. All-wheel-drive is equated with safety; thus, Subaru now has a certain amount of street cred as being the safe vehicle choice.
Also, you have to admit: the Subaru Outbacks of yester-decade do resemble those Volvo wagons of the ‘70s and ‘80s, so maybe there is some retro nostalgia going on here for those who have a passion for that classic rectangle-on-wheels look.
Kinda makes you wonder what would Al Gore would drive?