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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Car And Driver, Crossing The Line?

In the new March issue of Car and Driver, John Phillips has a humor piece titled "My dinner with the Big 1.5". The premise is that he went to a holiday dinner with Kwame "The Navigator" Kilpatrick, mayor of Detroit, Ford's CEO Bill "The Kid" Ford Jr., and Rick "The Wagon Master" Wagoner of GM. Here is an excerpt:
"My peeps are doin' me dirty", said Detroit mayor Kwame "The Navigator" Kilpatrick as he hacked at the undercooked Butterball. "Soon's they reelect me, they demand a recount. Gonna cost $500,000 they say".
In case you didn't know, despite his rather Irish sounding name, Kilpatrick is black. And Phillips practically dressed him up in blackface. "Soon's the reelect me".

I'm not a P.C. type of guy, but this piece surprised me for its brazen-ness. The premise isn't bad, and some of it is really funny (Ron Gettelfinger is nicknamed "Butterfinger").

Did C&D go too far with this one? Should Kilpatrick send his aptly named police chief, Ella Bully-Cummings to come to C&D's offices and open a can of good old-school Detroit police brutality on their asses?


Shawn said...

...So you're saying that instead of offending people with their reviews & comparison tests, Car & Driver is now moved on to play the race card?

I think they're just trying to be funny. It's in poor taste, but it C&D. You sorta have to picture a group of caucasian males in their mid-40s or 50s standing in front of a newly painted suburban garage next to a pristine lawn, holding bottles of Coors Light or Starbucks... Talking about what else but the cars in the last episode of the Desperate Housewives. The someone said, hey, I do a great impression of that black mayor...

All C&D articles start that way.

rzklkng said...

All the mags suck lately...(I like the internets better anyway - go through the last issue of C&D, and find something you haven't seen online at least 2-weeks prior.) IMHO, Yates is the WORST. Politically, he's closer to you than me, but I read my car mags for cars, not politics, and I certainly don't want the "Angry White Man" type of talk radio politics at that. That's why I'm gladly letting all my subscriptions lapse. If I want to read them, I'll read them for free at the Supermarket, the barbers, or online.

OTOH, what if he actually sounded like that? Phillips should have said that it was phonetically transcribed that way. I don't know that C&Ds 7 black subscribers will care, and I doubt the majority of C&D readers will find anything wrong with it.

Big Ford Fan said...

Philips is a hack and Brock Yates a dinosour. It was probably more a test, to see if anyone actually reads his stuff. Car & Driver is still the best of the big magazines, but considering how they've all slipped, that's not saying much. I'be been trying to check the new magazine MPH, which is like a mix of Motor Trend/Maxim/Hustler, but like the last commentor, I check the web for news now. I haven't read the piece, but from what you posted here, the racism is clear and was it really necessary?

Anonymous said...

Big Ford Fan-
Don't waste your time with MPH. It's by far the worst auto magazine on the shelves. Its target reader (I use the term loosely) appears to be a semi-literate twentysomething with a room-temperature IQ, the emotional and sexual maturity of a thirteen-year-old, and the attention span of a sparrow.

As for the others, Road and Track is still dull but dignified (but worth reading just for Peter Egan's column), Car & Driver and Automobile are dull but pretend to snarkiness in an attempt to hide it. And as for Motor Trend, well, what can we say except that it's still worthless after all these years.

Even the foreign publications are suffering. The much-vannted UK mag CAR, once heralded as "the best car magazine in the world" - which was true back in the 1970's and '80's - is but a weak shadow of its former self, run by weedy twenty- and thirty-year-olds with gelled spiky hair.

Hear that rumbling? That's Setright, Manney, and McCahill spinning in their graves.

sh said...

I suppose it depends on how the mayor comes across in person.
If he plays the jive-talkin' race card like Ray Nagin does, exaggerated "Spirit of SNL" parody journalism isn't that big a deal IMHO.

Dublin Saab said...

Phillips was using “Urban rap slang” when writing the quotes from the Mayor. I have only seen the Mayor speak a few times and he is “keeping it real” more than any other politician that I have seen. Phillips writing is not that far off the mark.

As for it being racists? No way. Blacks are not genetically predetermined to speak like rappers. Those who do are making a free choice to do so, as do many people with skin of a different color do when they choose to speak in that style.

carscomblogger said...

feel free to read any of our feature stories since I doubt you have. And since many of the staff are from other auto mags you don't mind, maybe you should give it a glance.

Otherwise Kwame is pretty bad but I didn't read the column. Not a smart move either way IMO.

tommytootone said...

Like or dislike the current Detroit Mayor, it's continued comments and phony attributed quotes are offensive to readers. "Jack me a 'slade'", please..... As a whole, Car & Driver is a dinosaur, too busy trying to be "hip" than to be useful. It's writing is all too ugly at times and it has lost it's way among the general driving populus. What's worse, it admits that it is inaccurate all too often after the fact. Motor Trend seems a hack mag, sucking up to its advertizers. Consumers, as dry as it is, offers more true insight than either of these, but it's not a car mag. There is a real need for a new, hip, but "true" car mag, not one that patronizes or caters to niche markets.