Today, the Globe and Mail covers the phenomenon known as ''Hummer hate''. People flip the bird at their drivers, key them, design websites to make fun of them; there's just something about the Hummer that really annoys people. Judging from the comments, the three main complaints about Hummers is that they are: 1. bad for the environment, 2. Dangerous on the roads, and 3. indicative of the penile insecurities of the drivers.
All of these complaints, valid or not, suggest to me that Hummer-haters are going out of their way to avoid discussing the real issue with Hummers- namely, they're proof positive that you can't buy class. There's something so completely new money about the Hummer, or more accurately new credit card debt, that strikes anyone with the slightest bit of taste as 100 percent gauche. It's like paying a hundred bucks for the hair stylist to give you a mullet. It's roughly akin to gold-capped teeth or a fedora with an ostrich feather. It's like wearing a tee-shirt that says ''I have more money than you.'' The Hummer is the automotive equivalent of hair metal. It's like spending a million dollars at K-Mart. It's polyester on wheels. You get the idea.
Of course, nobody says this because we don't want to seem snobbish. We like to pretend that ''everyone has their own tastes'' so that we don't sound too ''judgmental''- the ultimate slur in a society that's incapable of making judgments. But, in an era in which debutantes feel comfortable wearing pink track suits, and 20-something secretaries think that showing off a little butt crack is seductive, we could stand to be a bit judgmental. We're smothering in tastelessness of the worst kind- the kind that doesn't know it's tasteless. Kitsch on credit. Camp without the wink. The suburbanization of the soul. So, why pretend to be ''eco-friendly'' about it? If you drive a Hummer, you are making a statement: I lack all taste, and I think that I can compensate for that by spending a lot of money. Naturally people with aesthetic sense will cringe when they see you drive by.