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Scott Blazey's Roundel Weekly: When Did We Become The Bad Guys

Discussion in 'Roundel Magazine' started by MGarrison, Aug 12, 2014.

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    Just an experiment - sharing Scott's article on the forums because, black text on white background is waaaay easier on the eyes to read, and, possibility of comments or discussion.

    When Did We Become The Bad Guys?

    Every BMW owner reading this is an excellent driver, one who never races recklessly through traffic or cuts off other drivers or steals parking spaces for which other drivers are waiting or blows past pedestrians in crosswalks. I don’t do any of that stuff—at least when I’m not on a rally—and I’m sure none of you do, either.

    Well, pretty sure.

    Browse automotive websites and forums, however, and the vitriol and hatred that some supposed car-guys display when the name “BMW” is mentioned is incredible. In the minds of some of these obsessives, no BMW driver is capable of polite, responsible traffic manners, nor can they actually drive. If you haven’t visited a website where this kind of anti-BMW talk is the norm, don’t look for one. It will only make you mad.
    How did BMW drivers become the most reviled motor vehicle operators on the planet? There was a time when other drivers didn’t notice us, other than to give our 2002s a passing glance and wonder when British Motor Works started selling those funny-looking cars outside of England. Then came the yuppies; that’s when other drivers started associating BMWs with people who could afford pricier cars—people who were often more concerned with image than performance. That may have been the start of it.

    In the late 1980s and 1990s, BMW seemed to return to their performance roots, especially with the M5, the M3, and the 3 Series in general, but I think it was after Y2K that the brand and those who owned it began to be seen differently. Car prices kept going up, but through a couple of recessions, BMW—amazingly—kept selling cars when other car companies weren’t doing as well. To the general public, BMWs were driven by people who were well off—or at least better off than most. So BMW drivers began to be “rich” BMW drivers.

    Actually, most of us aren’t rich, but once a stereotype gets started, it’s hard to kill.

    Meanwhile, automotive magazines continuously ranked BMWs at or near the top of their “best” lists, which surely irked drivers of other brands. My guess is that many non-BMW people got tired of hearing how great BMWs were, and may have even become jealous because they didn’t own one. Their prejudice wasn’t based on logic or reason, it was an emotional response—but for some, that’s all they needed.

    Did BMW ever sell cars that had problems? Sure—regularly, in fact. Does that mean that all BMWs are overpriced crap? Hardly—but some people think that they are. Probably folks who have never owned a reliable, great-handling, attractive, and comfortable BMW—as all of mine have been.

    I hate to say it, but there is one more explanation for why some people hate BMW drivers: Some BMW drivers really are jerks—inconsiderate, reckless, bad-driving jerks. Personally, I haven’t seen more bad BMW drivers than bad drivers in other makes, but maybe it’s a regional thing; out here in the Great Midwest, I notice less bad-driving behavior as a general rule than I see on either of the coasts—but maybe that’s just me. For all I know, drivers from the side edges of the country think the same about us inlanders.

    I don’t think the media likes us much, either. As Roundel’s news guy, I search the world—the World Wide Web, that is—for stories about BMWs and BMW people that our members might find interesting. I come across dozens of articles with headlines that contain “BMW,” even when a BMW being involved is not important—or even relevant. Here are some examples:

    BMW Driver Runs From Scene Of Freeway Injury Crash
    BMW Owner Carjacked, Stabbed In Watsonville
    Gold BMW And Cyclist Collide
    BMW X6 Driver Murder Trial Postponed
    BMW Car Crashes Into House Causing Substantial Damage
    BMW Driver Seen On Video Stealing Planter At Local Restaurant;
    and my personal favorite: Serial Con Man Who Stole And Pawned Wife's Engagement Ring Fled The Country In BMW Stolen Using Friend's Passport.

    Okay, these headlines had my attention, but in reading the stories, I found that the BMW aspects of the articles were mostly meaningless. To see how the media treated other car brands, I looked for similar stories that did not involve BMWs. The articles I found often included the brand of car, but it appeared much deeper in the story—and certainly not in the headline. To be fair, I did find a few news stories involving Mercedes-Benz that included the car in the headline, but not as often as BMW.

    Isn’t it interesting that two German luxury-car marques seemingly show up in headlines more often than others?

    So what is the media’s fascination with our favorite car? Maybe it’s that BMWs are so recognizable that witnesses are more often able to identify them. Or maybe we just need to follow the money—or, in the case of the print and Internet media, the readership. Is it possible that news writers and editors put BMW in their headlines because they know that it grabs their readers’ attention? Maybe people are more likely to actually read stories when the headline screams “BMW,” just as they do if a celebrity’s name is in the headline.

    Coming from one of the world’s most recognized brands, and from a manufacturer with a reputation for performance, luxury, and—yes—high price tags, BMWs draw attention. They show up in headlines even when the news isn’t about the car, and they draw the displeasure of people who dislike everything about BMWs, especially BMW drivers.

    We really can’t do anything about how the media portrays BMWs, other than to try very hard to make sure that our personal cars aren’t involved in any crimes with us either as victim or perpetrator. But we may be able to soften the image our detractors have of us by being the considerate, respectful drivers and ambassadors of the Club that I hope we all are.—Scott Blazey

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    Personally, I cross my arms at the article in both acceptance and annoyance. Just yesterday I was tooling around on Max and this person in a Prius cut me off and nearly knocked my off my bike. Do I look at every Prius driver as a potential hazard on the road, no. Do I look at every bonehead on the road as a potential hazard to my safety? Yes.

    It's not what you drive, it's how you drive it. There are a certain number of elitists that might buy a BMW just for the badge, but then again, there are a lot of people that do the same with a Harley Davidson. Do they all have to be bad ass biker dudes? No. Are some of them just in love with the idea of a solid machine? Yes.

    I wouldn't have a Harley, but then again, I drive a BMW because I think it's a solid machine. Do I have a BMW motorcycle, no, but that's only because I haven't found one that fits me yet :-D

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