Some Americans (let us avoid the term “liberals”) hate fun, such as cheeseburgers, talk radio, guns, Las Vegas and cars that are larger than roller skates and that look more interesting than shoeboxes. They hated 1950s cars that looked — as a sniffy critic said — like jukeboxes on wheels. Such people love guilt, and want people to feel guilty about cars because cars have made possible suburbs, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and emancipation from public transportation.
Want a great example of liberal automobile guilt in action? Check out the thoughts of James Cromwell (aka Zefram Cochrane in “Star Trek: First Contact”), who played an 19th century automobile inventor in the anything-but-magnificent recent A&E remake of Orson Welles’ legendary 1942 film of “The Magnificent Ambersons”:
A&E: In your view, then, this story is as much about how America was changing as it is about a single family.
JC: I think it was the real end of innocence. The sense of being overwhelmed by technology; the automobile, of course, is one of the central images. The automobile, in some way, defines America and is a perfect example of what America is. I have an Alfa Romeo, so I love automobiles. ’67, really nice … they’re gorgeous to look at, they’re fun to drive, and they get you from one place to another. They also take something out of the earth that is irreplaceable and they spit poison into the air. They ultimately don’t bring people together; they tend to isolate us, as Faulkner once said. We drive around in, like, Beetles, trapped in these shells. Ultimately, we will be living in that kind of shell. If you’ve ever been to Los Angeles, you can notice people on their computers have breakfast, fixing their hair and talking on the telephone while driving on the freeway. It’s an interesting existence.
Well, again, I think it’s very Shakespearean. It comes out of misplaced enthusiasm for the material things.
Wow, I don’t know about you–but I can feel the guilt, the handwringing, the Bobo sense of “yes, I want my expensive vintage Italian sportscar, but dammit, I just gotta feel guilty about it! It wouldn’t be right for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor! I moved to Hollywood, and had a decent career as a character actor and I make more than the average person, and I love the money and what it buys me, but I’d better not show it, or people will think me calm and unfashionably sane!”