I’m constantly being accused of being a Libertarian for my, quite warranted, mis-trust of government. I am, of course, not even close to believing in equality of creation, one man one vote or a host of democratic ideals shared by people of that sort of political persuasion. I’m pretty sure that American 20th century concept of ‘democratization’, as championed by one Woodrow Wilson, doesn’t work on any level. In the 1930s when publishers saw it as their duty to educate the masses, we got modern classics as popular literature. Of course, politics became populist to the detriment of mankind during that era, but, now, we get ‘books’ assuming Catholics in some big conspiracy rule the world or poorly written fetish ‘smut’. Yes, both are complete fantasy worlds: one where Protestants and Jews don’t rule the political roost in the countries which don’t suck or the sort of moderate S&M one might have engaged in as a first-year undergraduate is somehow scandalous and worthy of a best-seller. However, none of this crap would have made it to press or eventually cinemas back when ‘the elite’ saw it as their duty to enlighten the populace.
Apple unveiled their new iPhone, and people are complaining about the 5C not being cheap enough. I’m not one of them, as you could at this point imagine, and the fact that this phone wasn’t designed to appeal to the Chinese middle class brings great joy to my apparently cold, dark heart. Robert M Parker, Jr and his ilk have made my oenophilia more difficult. I don’t want some fruity crap one guy likes and sells to the masses, and good Claret was cheaper when prices were based off of Victorian reputations. Idiots bought the fancy name, and those in the know got the good stuff for pennies on the pound. Now, it all tastes like over-ripened Napa crap, and the Chinese are running up the price. I like my New World reds from the other side of the Coast Range, thank you. Here is Apple, unlike the vintners of Bordeaux, saying they won’t dumb down their product. Everyone still wants one, the brand is aspirational, and my shares purchased from the time before iPods look to gain more value in the long-term. Jony Ive didn’t get a knighthood for designing mere appliances, did he? My big question is why are the ‘elite’ automakers seemingly not following suit?
Maserati, a division of FIAT, has launched a too big Quattroporte for PLA and Triad associated ‘businessmen’ to ride in the back and a not-pretty-enough to be a Maser, 5-series fighter in the Ghibli. Honestly, why must they make a cheap one and a crap one? FIAT own Lancia and Alfa Romeo; they can make a crappy one and the cheap one. You can’t go selling 10,000+ Maseratis and still call it an exclusive brand. It’s like Gucci making their horse-bit loafers available in lizard or patent leather and me still wanting a pair. They did, I didn’t, and someone bought Alden Cape Cods of higher quality for less money when he wanted a pair in brown. Wake up Signor Marchionne!
Objects of lust just become mere consumer goods when you listen to what your customers want. I used to love BMWs; they only made brilliant cars for enthusiasts. Objectively, they were the best. This whole ‘being the best’ bit gave them all sorts of brand value, and then they decided to appeal to other markets. Currently, their own cars from 10 years ago are beating the new models in comparison tests. Not only have they made the cars worse, but cheap lease rates have turned them into rep mobiles and secretary cars. Why? First they got ugly and loaded with dodgy electrics when Chris Bangle designed them. Now, Cadillac is beating them in driving dynamics and quality. Fucking Cadillac makes a better Bimmer! Are the Quandts thinking of running up the price and selling to the Chinese or Qataris? Once they lose their hard-earned band value, BMW is just going to be another has been car company. Citroen used to make incredible cars, now they make rebadged Peugeots and Mitsubishis.
Bringing back elitism is the only way around this. People are still going to want BMWs if they go back to making great cars. Why should a 3-series have a back seat fit for humans or drive like a Toyota? Your competitor in Stuttgart makes lovely taxis and limos for despots, that’s not your market. The ‘5’ shouldn’t be a overweight, bulbous, and shortened 7-series with bad steering. Who the fuck thought the coupe should be called a ‘4’, when the first ‘3’ was a coupe? No, make a proper fucking Bimmer damnit! They’ll still sell, and your former customers might not have to leave the brand before their old cars finally die. The ones who switched to Audi will come back; VW is out to ruin that much more fragile brand with new steering setups worse than the ones used on a Skoda. BMW is a Bavarian company, and FIAT’s Italian. They of all people really ought to know better than to give into populism. Jaguar’s making an SUV to compete with their own Range Rover Evoque, SAAB’s dead, BMW and Maserati can buck the trend. Maybe, just maybe, Random House just might follow their lead…