Jonah Goldberg

Meanwhile, some conservatives didn't like it because it makes light of what they believe is actually happening. After all, in America and Europe, the list of environmental crimes is growing at an almost exponential rate. The ad is absurd, of course, but not nearly as absurd as Audi thinks.

What was Audi's intent? Presumably, to sell cars.

"The ad only makes sense if it's aimed at people who acknowledge the moral authority of the green police," writes Grist magazine's David Roberts on the Huffington Post. The target audience, according to Roberts, are men who want to "do the right thing." He's certainly right that the ad isn't aimed at people (whom he childishly mocks as "teabaggers") who worry that their liberties are being eroded.

But the message is hardly "do the right thing."

To me, the target demographic is a certain subset of spineless upscale white men (all the perps in the ad are affluent white guys) who just want to go with the flow. In that sense, the Audi ad has a lot in common with those execrable MasterCard commercials. Targeting the same demographic, those ads depicted hapless fathers being harangued by their children to get with the environmental program. MasterCard's tagline: "Helping Dad become a better man: Priceless."

The difference is that MasterCard's ads were earnest, creepy, diabetes-inducing treacle. Audi's ad not only fails to invest the greens with moral authority, it concedes that the carbon cops are out of control and power-hungry (in a postscript scene, the Green Police pull over real cops for using Styrofoam cups). But, because resistance is futile when it comes to the eco-borg, you might as well get the best car you can.

It will be interesting to see whether the ad actually sells cars. The premise only works if you take it as a given that this Gorewellian nightmare is inevitable. But the commercials arrive at precisely the moment when that inevitability is unraveling like an old pair of hemp socks. The global warming industry is imploding from scientific scandals, inconvenient weather, economic anxiety and surging popular skepticism (according to a Pew Research Center survey released in January, global warming ranks 21st out of 21 in terms of the public's priorities).

This week, I don't want a car to get past the Green Gestapo. I'm looking for something that can power through the frozen tundra separating me from the supermarket.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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