“It’s nice to be liked,” my future third wife Liz Phair sings, “but it’s better by far to get paid.” When your humble author began a vigorous program of auto-media meta-criticism under the guidance of the august Robert Farago a few years ago, I expected to be hated by my peers, and I was. I expected to be shunned by the industry PR people, and I was. I even feared I might be the subject of underhanded personal attacks designed to cost me my job, my home, and my ability to feed my son, and I wasn’t disappointed in that, either. The only thing I didn’t expect was to be emulated.
Now we have the nice folks at FORTUNE doing their own meta-critical review-the-reviewers, complete with double helpings of cynicism and supposition. Their target: The new Chevrolet Malibu ECO. They credit TTAC’s own Michael Karesh with being “an early sign that consensus was building” on the car. And the verdict?
The article title res ipsa loquitir and all that jazz: The Most Disliked Car Of The Year (so far). FORTUNE editor Alex Taylor charts the media’s desperate, fawning attempts to like the underwhelming underAchieva even as the evidence for the vehicle’s utter fecklessness stares them in the face. I won’t bother to excerpt the article: you can go read it if you’re interested, and the whole thing is worth reading.
This article is important, because it points out three important facts:
- The new Malibu sucks. It’s probably worse than the old one, which was only really good when viewed against the two-generations-ago Japanese competition. We all kind of knew that, though. GM’s inherent inability to capitalize on success almost guaranteed that the new ‘Bu would disappoint. The company continues to sabotage itself as if it were 1955 and the government were anxiously considering trust-busting it, rather than anxiously considering when the RenCen Fools will need another billion-busting bailout.
- The media really didn’t want to let anybody know that the new Malibu sucks. And why should they? The real customers of the auto media outlets are the PR people, not the buyers. Why give a shit about some sad-sack single mom out there trying to buy a decent car when your very good friend from Cadillac is ready to send you some place like this? Everybody who wrote a negative review of the new Malibu had to face the unpleasant fact that, although they’d never meet the families they’d no doubt spared from buying that piece of crap, their friend in Chevrolet PR was going to be sitting next to them at the next Vail/Napa/Jackson Hole/Las Vegas $250-a-plate dinner, and that friend was going to be upset with them.
- The edifice is collapsing. Thank G-d. The day is coming when it won’t be possible to ride the gravy train by writing fawning garbage any more. There are too many competing sources of information. The arbitrage of information is coming to an end. The good guys are going to win.
I will repeat it, and I believe it. The good guys are going to win. The cream will rise to the top. Bad cars will be shamed. Good cars will be praised. The journosaurs will disappear as the comet of globally instant information strikes their dark little planet and snuffs out their lives. The good guys are going to win. What would Liz say? Hmm… how about “I believe we have things to do. I believe in myself, and I believe in you.”