Saturday, March 22, 2008

Import Nights Are So Hot Right Now

Just got back from the Hot Import Nights automotive lifestyle show at the LA Convention Center. I was there for Mahalo Daily, mind you, not because I have any particular interest in cars. Although I do have a particular interest in scantily-clad models, so it wasn't a complete wash.

We had a really good time and captured some great footage that you'll all be seeing next week. But it did get me thinking about this whole notion of "subcultures" and how people define themselves. Several people whom I interviewed today explained to me that they "trick out" or modify their cars as a mode of self-expression.

It doesn't really make a car that much more useful to, say, lower it, or add a blacklight, or even put a Nintendo Wii in the trunk, they explained. (How often would you play a Trunk Wii? When is that going to be useful? When you're stuck in the parking lot after a Dodger game? When you want to keep the girl you've just kidnapped occupied while you plan your next move?) It's not about functionality - it's just a way to give other people a sense of who you are and what you're all about.

I gotta be honest here...I don't understand this. I mean, self-expression is great. I'm not trying to knock people who want to be individuals and put themselves out there for the world to see. I am, after all, writing a blog post this very moment, and I spent all day being filmed for a podcast. So it would be pretty hypocritical of me to turn around and belittle others for trying to do essentially the same thing.

But how is modifying your car saying anything to anyone about you personally? Doesn't it instead reflect on the individuals who designed the car or the customization? If you spend money to get people to pimp your ride, are you expressing yourself or are you paying them to express themselves?

I mean, even if you did all the work yourself, and designed all the parts yourself, it's still fairly inadequate as a format for expressing yourself. Writing, taking photographs, making art, performing, filming something...those are all cheaper and, it seems to me anyway, more vital and telling and informative. What's the most compelling insight into your nature that someone could glean from looking at your car?

(1) I like cars

(2) I like green cars

(3) I like fast cars

(4) I like decals

(5) I could kick your ass at Super Smash Bros. Brawl

(I'd like to point out that I'm not trying to be cynical or mean-spirited here. I'm genuinely interested in answers to this question. If you're a big fan of styling cars and feel it is a perfectly valid way to speak to others about who you are, please do leave a comment below. I'd love to start a discussion on this.)

The other weird thing about Hot Import Nights is the way these models were displayed. I mean, I like looking at a sexy girl in a skimpy outfit. Believe me, I do.

But there was such novelty attached to it at the show, like it was an exhibit designed for aliens who had never before seen an attractive human female. There was a line to get a photo taken in between a Pontiac Solstice and a girl who was half-naked and cute. (Of course I waited in it...The picture will be online within 72 hours, I'm told...You'll just have to wait until then to see it.)

A line! To get a picture taken with a cute girl and a car? What, am I going to be able to fool my friends with this later? "Hey, dude, check out this picture of me with my new car and girlfriend! No, you can't meet her, and I can't show you the car. They're in, um, Canada."

At a booth where they were giving away this energy drink called NOS, a bevy of buxom models were on-hand to chat up losers and drive sales, but none of them could even tell me anything about the drink, or seemed even vaguely interested in talking about it. The one girl I interviewed on camera told me she never drank energy drinks because caffeine makes her jittery. I mean, hey, boobs are neat, I think we can all agree on that point. But in this situation, I'm not sure they're actually going to move any NOS units. Someone who could actually endorse the product might have a bit more luck...

Around this point, I really needed the NOS boost, because I was utterly exhausted. I wound up ducking out of the show kind of early (I didn't even get to see The Game perform!), but I still think it will make an interesting podcast. Such a strange new kind of environment for me...It's cool that filming some of these Daily episodes is allowing me to experience all these events going on right under my nose that I would otherwise never get a chance to see.

No comments: