Pissing on the parade

Months ago, a European Chrysler enthusiast and regular correspondent wrote to the Plymouth Owners Club (POC) and Allpar, the “Mopar” web site, to find out if we were interested in running a retrospective on the 1976 cars and corporation. Both the POC and I were very interested, and so he started the laborious process of researching the era.

And a laborious process it is, too; I don’t think most people realize how much time goes into a single-year retrospective, if it’s done properly. You really need to get into the historical background and context, what competitors were doing, what was driving the company, and details which are not always easy to find. Brochures were often done well in advance and, frankly, were sometimes wrong; and finding artwork of particular cars can be hard, too.  We’re not even going to get into the issues of sales and production figures.

The thing is, in this case, Ewald Stein did a fine job of putting together facts and color, impressions and data, all from his home in the Netherlands. He did two versions of the story, one for the POC (focusing on Plymouth) and the much harder one, for Allpar, covering the full wide range of Chrysler Corporation. Normally, when I do these, I also try to put in AMC/Jeep, but that would have added a whole ’nother layer of complexity.

He spent a great deal of time tracking down specs and making sure his facts were right for both Dodge and Plymouth vans, since there’s not nearly as much out there for the vans and trucks. I did my part, supplying extra information when he found a gap, tracking down and processing images, and editing it into a tight web format.

When we finally went to press, so to speak, it was an anti-climax. I don’t really expect lavish praise on any particular article; often the hardest ones to do are the ones that people notice least, anyway. But when we posted this one, we basically got three comments on Facebook. One said it was embarrassing, one said they knew the story — Chrysler went bankrupt the next year (for the record, they went over more 30 years before that happened), one said the cars were crap.

And that was it.

Hence the title of this blog entry. We staged a fine parade, working hard behind the scenes to get together a full display of pageantry, so people out there in the Web-world could piss on it.

Never mind that Ewald’s own cars, treasured and rare vehicles from a distant land, were featured prominently. People can’t be bothered to learn about something, to click through, to have their assumptions tested, before slamming it. No, it’s a quick Facebook reaction. See a photo of something from the 1970s? Piss on it.

Maybe it’s because of information overload, but now people constantly dismiss things by assigning a label.  You see it in politics even more. People are relegated to “beneath contempt” as soon as a label can be assigned, as though every liberal (sorry, “libtard” is the PC term now) and every conservative thinks alike — and as though everyone has to be one or the other.

The solution is for us to stop being knee-jerk responders — to never type anything unless we think about it and the real people on the other side. If we just sling mud, whether it’s about cars or politics, we both end up poorer.

Most people deserve a great deal more respect than we get from the mindless, dead-end, dismissive comments that are the standard of social media. I can only ask you to be part of the solution — and to challenge those who condescendingly label-and-dismiss.