Personal affection for an automotive brand is one of the more peculiar aspects of modern-day culture.
Worshipping symbols aimed at identifying one’s affiliation to a particular tribe/race/religion/club are as old as humans’ capacity to create objects. It therefore isn’t a surprise at all that an automotive brand would be appropriated and exploited as a means of signifying status, even beyond the company’s own marketing efforts. What is surprising though is the levels of passion and dedication (or, depending on one’s viewpoint, parochialism and fury) this can elicit.
I recently got to experience this phenomenon first-hand when someone who quite obviously considers himself a Mercedes-Benz aficionado left the following comment on one of my older articles:
“Who the hell are you Christopher “can’t tell a hole in the ground” Butt, to give such a sad pathetic opinion on and of Mercedes. AutoDidakt wipe this Butt clean and move on.”
It isn’t necessarily the (repeated) exploitation of my family name that took me by surprise – this was only a matter of time – but the level of anger expressed by the gentleman who so fervently disagrees with my article. Pointing out that my opinion ‘on and of Mercedes’ is ‘sad pathetic (sic)’ suggests no less than that I’m unworthy of commenting on as supreme or even hallowed a subject as the car maker from Sindelfingen. Lest we forget, it is a car brand we’re talking about here. Not a church or even a football club.
This doesn’t happen when discussing different brands of biscuits.
Underneath this fundamental aspect, I was also surprised by the utter lack of appreciation of nuance by this ‘enthusiast’. After all, the article is not some diatribe by a 15-year-old BMW fanboy claiming that any automobile sporting the three-pointed star on its front is a piece of shit. It is merely a chronicle, charting the different periods of Mercedes-Benz design from the 1970s until today, including personal assessments of each era one may choose to agree or disagree with.
Now, if the gentleman with the knack for solid puns had chosen to tell me off for criticising ‘Sensual Purity’, I wouldn’t have been perplexed at all. However, he seems to be unable or unwilling to understand that a brand like Mercedes-Benz is no solid entity, but undergoing change on a regular basis – which obviously entails the possibility for anyone to appreciate certain aspects of the Swabian marque and disapprove of others.
Hence anyone challenging one part is challenging the whole, in the worldview of certain individuals. Fundamentalism can clearly be found in the most peculiar of corners.
Obviously, this sort of blatant ignorance of complexity and blunt oversimplification is currently prevalent in many aspects of politics, media and everyday culture. That being said, in the context of a consumer durable, it does appear particularly foolish.
The author of this piece has since been wiped clean, but still runs his own motoring website full of sad pathetic opinions, which you are welcome to visit at