Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Battery Powered Leaf Blower and Chainsaw Ad Suggests Shifting Archetype

Lots going on in this conversion to batteries
In the paper this morning was a full page ad for Stihl chainsaws and other equipment. The late afternoon fall or early winter and rural scene was picturesque, as it was meant to be, but it was the cowboy hat, that iconic image of the marlboro man and a kind of masculinity that was the image's thematic center. Note the truck also.

But like that earlier smoking man, there's air pollution associated with the products here. Two-stroke engines are dirty, and we know also that they are a very large contributor to greenhouse gas pollution also.

Just last month Quiet Clean D.C. successfully persuaded the District of Columbia City Council to enact a three year phase-out of gas-powered leaf blowers.

The movement is gaining traction and is something to consider here in Salem.

So it was very interesting to see this full page ad, and at the bottom, in a kind of fine print, they were advertising "battery power" and a full lineup of equipment not powered by the dirty two-stroke gasoline engine.

So at the level of cultural symbol, we have the makings here of a change: Associating "real" toughness and manliness now with the battery.

This of course is contested.

Just this weekend I read about gas pickup drivers making a new expression of the sentiment in "rolling coal": They block the parking stalls next to tesla supercharging stations. Apparently it's called "icing." They are not interested in associating manliness with a battery or a smaller car. (And there are other domains, too, of human relations where batteries might pose a threat to certain forms of masculinity - but these are far outside our focus here. Still, cars and trucks signify manliness at the moment, and our system of autoism is gendered in some important ways. For that reason it is useful to consider all the valences around "batteries" and "battery power.")

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