Giddyup America: Hummer Drivers Claim Moral High Ground

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Hummer drivers believe they’re defending America’s frontier lifestyle against anti-American critics.

You know, the suburban frontier.

We know that Hummers symbolize American greed and wastefulness to many. But to Hummer drivers they are the 4-wheeled Marlboro-Man galloping across the tarmac prairie, six-shooters drawn in defense of the distressed maiden, America.

The researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 20 (okay, small sample) American-born-and-raised Hummer owners and found they employ the ideology of American foundational myths like “rugged individual” and “boundless frontier.” Shored up with these heady mythologies, Hummer owners construct themselves as moral protagonists: a bastion against anti-American criticism.

The study published in the Journal of Consumer Research is all part of broader research into anti-consumption sentiments expressed by people who oppose chains like Starbucks and shun consumerism. Hummers occupy the epicenter of this moral viewpoint, where rugged individualism is ruggedly expressed with the middle finger.

But in the course of researching the anti-Hummerites the team came upon the moral beliefs of the pro-Hummerites and found similar justifications coming from diametrically opposed viewpoints.

“Our analysis of the underlying American identity discourses revealed that being under siege by (moral) critics is an historically established feature of being an American,” write the authors.

I too feel morally superior in my mass-produced moving vehicle with highish MPG driven by hundreds of thousands of likeminded rugged individualists.