List: More ways Volkswagen commercials castrate men.


Earlier this year, I suggested that a Volkswagen commercial based on the Kiss song "Beth" was an attempt to exploit suburban American men's fear that they are pussies. An analysis of another commercial for the same car -- the, er, Passat -- leaves no doubt that the campaign is a systematic attempt to castrate men and render them helpless consumers.

1) The commercial sets up as follows. Resisting his daughter's suggestion to drop her off a block from school, a driver dad asks if she prefers not to be seen with him. Her evasive reply betrays the accuracy of his suspicion -- he is, after all, a pussy driving a Passat.

2) Distracted, the feckless dad nearly rear-ends a sporty, hipster-black convertible when it cuts off his sensible silver family car.

3) The Passat seizes control from the dad by applying sensor-activated brakes, avoiding a collision. A male viewer may experience a subliminal association: Perhaps the Passat's modern accessories include other ways of usurping him. A mechanical jar opener? An automatic lawnmower? Female-friendly marital-aid hardware? He knows he deserves the humiliation, which is why he's considering a Passat.

4) The dad looks like one of our nation's most ineffectual creeps, politician and father of eight Rick Santorum.

5) The ad inverts Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" notion of a "Pussy Wagon" driven by a ruthless, hypersexual cave man: Here, the Passat 'Wagen doesn't reap pussy, it is driven by a pussy. In the three 2016 Passat commercials, each driver has been a passive male -- in the third, most boldly, the role of the driver (again portrayed as not in command of his car's technology) is played by an African-American man.

6) Unlike the "Beth" commercial, the Passat auto-brakes clip has no music, but the oversight is remediable. Suggestions: Flux Pavilion's "I Can't Stop"; the Clash's "Remote Control"; the Beatles' "I'm a Loser."