Sunday, January 25, 2009
Volkswagen Enters the Virtual Baby Business
Location: Volkswagen Web Page
Ah, Sunday morning. A time to drink cup after cup of coffee and crawl through the New York Times. Little did I know that I'd see yet another melding of the real and virtual worlds.
I usually start with the small automotive section at the back of the sports pages. Today I spotted a feature on the "new" VW minivan, the Routan, touting the company's humorous campaign to get consumers past the stigma of a "mommy wagon." I quote from the site:
With the RoutanBabymaker3000 now you can succumb to the urge to procreate, without adding to the epidemic. Just remember. Please. Have a baby for love, not for German engineering.
Prospective buyers or the merely perverse can mash up photos of a mom and a dad to create a Routan "virtual baby." This Routan Babymaker 3000 seems far less odd than making a virtual child in Second Life, the subject of occasional head-scratching by this writer. The Routan campaign does, however, move us a millimeter closer to a time when virtual creatures of all sorts will be part of our daily computing rituals.
For the sheer joy of it, in honor of Pappy Enoch's alien abduction I mashed up Jethro Bodine and Salma Hayek (Pappy's idol). I had to settle for Jethro, instead of Pap, because the VW program insists that the male cannot wear a hat nor have facial hair! That's perhaps the worst abomination of this entire farce...Pappy would as soon be caught beard-less as he'd be caught paying his taxes.
Oh yes, what about the new VW?
My masculinity is not tied up in the wheels I use to roll. Minivans are good vehicles for what they do, moving a group of humans without the stupid waste of fuel that an SUV delivers. Too bad. VW missed the mark by many kilometers with this vehicle...it seems little different from my in-law's Chrysler Town and Country, its clone. VW changed the interior and a few exterior cues; the Routan lacks the hippie charm of the old Microbuses...perhaps its worst failing. Now if they'd have put the new TDI Diesel engine inside of a camper-van version, I'd be singing "Truckin' like the doodah man" all the way to the dealership.
Still, I must hand it to VW for making my Sunday morning ritual a little more surreal. That's not a bad thing.