It’s Nice to Feel Like America Still Builds Rockets
To Americans of an earlier era, the space program stood as the symbol of American life. It was the most eloquent example of the great things man could achieve if he were able to experience the freedom and encouragement to use his mind and pursue his happiness that only America's political structure and cultural atmosphere could provide. Today, because that structure and atmosphere has changed, America's "priorities have changed." The space program still serves it's symbolic function – as a barometer of the cultural and political climate it exists within – but unlike in the past when it's health was quick proof of the country's well being, today it's decay is quick proof of the country's decline.
Most Americans today are oblivious to the fact that anything has occurred. Only a portion still retain enough of an emotional connection to the cultural atmosphere of the past to be able to sense that the cultural atmosphere of the present is something entirely different. This is the portion who is bothered by the decay of the space program. This is the portion susceptible to this commercial, and this is who it is targeted at.
At first glance this commercial appears to be a celebration of the American cultural atmosphere, and that is exactly what it is intended to appear as. Using a shameful intellectual distortion, Chevrolet is deliberately inflaming the fear and consternation felt by it’s target audience in order to be able to offer the Corvette as a way to relieve it. The continued production of the car is offered as proof that there is nothing to worry about. "Your feeling that something has changed is unfounded. America is doing just fine" is the implicit message.
Make no mistake: The Corvette most certainly is an achievement, but it is by no means a space rocket. To claim that it is is absurd on it’s face. Why does Chevrolet think it can profit from making such a ridiculous claim? Because unlike a solid philosophical conviction, feelings are impotent to stand up to ideas which threaten them. The portion of the population which will find this commercial appealing (or, more accurately, reassuring) are understandably sensitive to criticism of the things that they value. But, because the things that they value are valued only emotionally, and not also consciously, that sensitivity has been able to grow out of proportion. Thus, any perceived defense of those values will be automatically embraced while any perceived attack on that defense will be automatically ignored. This is why the relatively straight-forward facts that the Corvette is incomparable to a space rocket, and that to try to say that it is means to agree to lower one’s expectations and effectively give up the fight for America’s future, will be regarded as dour and dismissed without thought.
The cause of the space program’s decay – just like America’s political and cultural decay – is philosophical. Feeling very strongly that something is wrong, and embracing or attacking in a knee-jerk fashion anything that seems to defend or threaten those feelings, is not sufficient to stop or reverse that decay. Buying a Corvette is certainly not necessary, either, but Chevrolet doesn’t seem to care about that. The largest automobile company in the nation is, in one fourty-seven second advertisement, not only demonstrating it’s fealty to those forces which are causing the political structure, cultural atmosphere, and space program to decay (after all, such forces do control the company now), but also surreptitiously encouraging literally millions of Americans to ignore reality, question the nature of logic, and make a substantial financial investment in the continued decay of their sanity.
Yes, the idea that America still build rockets does feel nice, but it’s not true. Is it really worth the personal cost of a Corvette – as well as the societal cost of sustaining a company that is complicit in the destruction of this country – for the sake of maintaining that feeling? If there is anything that an American who is truly concerned about the future of his country should worry about first, it is not the forces destroying it, but that the forces who are allegedly preserving it are not only proudly surrendering, but are trying to get him to join them.