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A Dream Gets Pulled Over

September 04, 2004

Thank goodness self-appointed safety critics forced General Motors to withdraw that fantasy ad showing youngsters dreaming of driving a sleek new Corvette. Without such vigilance, potentially millions of children might be tempted to imagine similar things. At last we're safe from juvenile drivers -- and never-gonna-happen fantasies.

Say you're a 10-year-old boy or girl. You get your weekly allowance, about $40,000. Naturally you skateboard to a Chevy dealer to buy a blood-red 2005 Corvette and immediately do fantastical things on empty streets, in immense pipes and off tall ramps. Suddenly, time slips into first gear and you exchange a look with the kid in the airborne Corvette soaring past yours.

No one with a real life and a childhood to recall could see the Corvette commercial, fully identified as a dream sequence, as GM urging prepubescents to drive cars recklessly over American cities. But that was the professed concern.

Well, Americans need not endure that dream anymore. GM yanked it after critics found it "among the most dangerous, anti-safety messages to be aired on national television in recent years."

Oh, c'mon, please. Who of us as a youngster in math class didn't dream of being elsewhere? And yet failed to become a runaway. Who aged way beyond 10 hasn't sat motionless on a freeway where rush hour never lives up to its name and imagined levitating the car to soar above the lights, lanes and congestion? It's a fantasy, a harmless release of thought during an attempted commute.

We all know that today's better ads can be visual poems, mood stories not always susceptible to intellectual analysis. Fine. They pay for the games and shows.

It's hard to understand why carmakers spend millions to portray their vehicles sliding out of control sideways on a beach. And what's the secret ad credo requiring glistening wet streets for professional drivers on closed courses in the sunshine?

Some of us don't get those beer party ads, either. Or the perfume ones with nonsensical poetry. So what? That doesn't lead to bans on goofy verse. Let's not be so PR-sensitive to uptight critics with megaphones.

People misbehaved grandly for eons without ads showing how. We needn't ban harmless fantasies. In fact, we needed them and still need them.

Anyway, once these 10-year-olds earn a license and Corvette-sized incomes, they'll learn about the down-to-earth insurance premiums on those babies.

Summer's almost over. Get a life. Or, better yet, a fantasy about a sunny beach where autumn never arrives.

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