GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

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Thread: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

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    GMI Staff Member Premium Member Ming's Avatar
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    GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    A century of General Motors
    Driven by culture: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows
    Saturday, September 6, 2008
    Susan Whitall / The Detroit News



    For a century, General Motors Corp. has cast a huge shadow over American popular culture, its cars inspiring songs, movies, cartoons and TV shows.

    Images of GM cars abound in American music, folk and visual cultures, dating back to one of the first "car songs": Billy Murray's "In My Merry Oldsmobile" from 1905. That song became a classic recording by Jean Goldkette and his orchestra in 1927 and inspired a somewhat naughty 1932 cartoon by the Fleischer Brothers.

    The image of GM's cars in popular culture would alternate between the dangerous glamour of fast cars and wild youth and the more wholesome virtues -- the idea that a Chevy or Buick would deliver you to freedom and escape out on the open road of an expansive, optimistic America.

    From the '50s into the '60s, girl-next-door Dinah Shore sang "See the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet" on her popular "Dinah Shore Chevy Show," accompanied by video of the dishy yet demure singer riding in a Chevy convertible full of admirers, or footage of a four-door Chevy motoring along a picturesque Western highway.

    "General Motors was always seen as part of the open road, seeing America, becoming one with it," said Michael Marsden, who lectures on the automobile in American culture at St. Norbert College in Wisconsin. "Chevrolet was the big identifier because -- but also the Corvette -- it still remains the only true American sports car. There's really an affectionate connection with that car."

    Certainly Barbie, the plastic queen of our mythopoetic dreams, doesn't drive a Boxster; she waves coquettishly from a pink Corvette.

    The Corvette was always emblematic of summertime and California. The Beach Boys are posing by a Corvette (and a Pontiac GTO) on the cover of their album "Shut Down Vol. 2."

    There's a dark side to that iconic imagery. The Corvette symbolized freedom but also wantonness, the idea that cars that fast and sexy could kill. In the 1955 film noir "Kiss Me Deadly," detective Mike Hammer is speeding along a dark highway in a '54 Corvette when he almost kills a hitchhiker played by Cloris Leachman. When a gas station attendant first sees Hammer's new Corvette, which replaced his old Jag, he says: "What's the matter, a Jag not good enough for you?" Hammer replies, "Yeah, the ashtrays got all full."

    But the ultimate Corvette of the '60s, the one that haunts Baby Boomer dreams is the baby blue driven by the two restless young wanderers in the 1960-64 TV show "Route 66." Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and George Maharis as Buzz Murdock drove Stiles' Corvette across America's more picturesque, pre-interstate highways seeking adventure to the sound of a cool, jazzy theme song. The show's top-notch scripts, atmospheric local shoots and array of almost-famous guest stars (a young Robert Redford, a young Suzanne Pleshette) helped keep the show, and its mythic Corvette, rolling. The show's first season came out on DVD in May.

    There are mythic GM cars, and then there is Cadillac. There are untold numbers of songs written about Cadillacs, thousands in the BMI database alone. The Cadillac Fleetwood, Coupe de Ville and particularly the El Dorado -- a perfect mythological name-- served as shorthand for success and glamour. Elvis Presley's gold 1961 Cadillac sits in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville. When R&B singer Little Willie John returned to Detroit riding high, he drove a two-tone Cadillac to his former high school, Pershing.

    Today the Cadillac Escalade is an instant cultural marker of urban success, whether it's thug life success or professional. The arrival of sports stars, rappers or Detroit's embattled mayor has traditionally been marked by black Escalades speeding into view. The late comedian Bernie Mac drove an Escalade, and gang boss Tony Soprano of TV's "The Sopranos" drove a big white Escalade ESV (Paulie Walnuts' ride was a Cadillac CTS).

    Hip-hop stars love to customize '50s or '60s GM models. Snoop Dogg commissioned an L.A. Lakers tribute car that began as a '57 Parisienne; there's also a white '66 Cadillac called "Angel Dust" that appeared in a 50 Cent video.

    GM's image in the culture today is mixed.

    The company was incredibly innovative in the '30s through '50s, before going into creative overdrive in the '60s, Marsden says.

    "They really had more classic car designs than any other company -- very forward looking -- with their displays of prototypes, those really bold design changes, at the world's fairs," the professor said. "And they had an image of freeing Americans to try the open road, but now they have the image of a company that's not concerned about the environment -- even though that's not true."

    Today Marsden sees signs of that old creative behemoth. "They're reintroducing the new Camaro, that's a beautiful, beautiful car. Despite the pundits, I think GM has quite a future."

    Source / FULL Article Link: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...809060376/1148

    Last edited by Ming; 09-08-2008 at 10:03 AM.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    One of the trends I've noticed is Toyota taking an increasing role in getting its small production cars (no, not concept cars - I'm talking to you, Transformers Triplets) into TV shows. Not Scion with its onslaught on youth channels like MTV, G4TV, etc., but the Toyota brand.

    Smallville, MadTV and a couple of others had the Yaris in a prominent role across many episodes, and with obvious sponsorship, the name "Yaris" would be plugged by characters. This is not some "oh look he's driving a Cobalt, but I can't see the Chevy emblem..." type of coincidence or random car pick by show producers. And the Yaris thing (Chloe Sullivan in Smallville) lasted the whole season, not just a show or two.

    GM has coolness like the Transformers, and hopefully the hot GM cars that show up in Transformers 2 will actually make it into production and not be vaporware like the cars in Demolition man, The Island, etc. (Of course Toyota did that as well in Minority Report, showing a futuristic car on "rails", if memory serves)

    So what worries me? Well, that Toyota tries hard at promoting its small cars like this, while GM seems to usually be more or less embarassed about the Aveo and Cobalt. Ford also loves to promote cars like the Mustang, and GM the Camaro or big trucks.

    So the pop culture stereotype of Toyota as the environmentally friendly, trendy and fuel efficient choice of shows targeted to young audiences is perpetuated -- while GM's image is more of the old school Detroit one of power and style.

    That's fine if you're like most GM fans and you're interested in power and style. But I think the Aveo, HHR and upcoming cars need a pop culture injection like the Yaris got, even if forced.

    I hope the Cruze is pushed just as hard when it comes out, and is not left to the "3 months advertising then abandon" strategy we've seen play out in the past.

    Reminiscing about the good old days of GM in Beach Boys tunes is fine, but we need more of that today, and more relevant insinuation of GM product into pop culture. You might argue that forcing GM product into shows would create a backlash, but seeing my friends' kids play with Camaros, Topkicks and Solstices from the Transformers movie is a good thing in my book.
    Last edited by Ming; 09-08-2008 at 10:27 AM.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    The only toyota I remember being in smallville was the Tundra, and that was only for one episode. I do distinctly remember the kind of advertising you're talking about for the ford fusion though.

    The question I have on the transformers movies is why put the concepts in the movie when they're so far out from production? The new camaro looked great in the first movie but all the fanfare from the first movie will have way been forgotten by the time the camaro launches (lucky for GM the second movie will be pretty close though). The same thing is going to happen for the Volt. It'll be in the second transformers movie but it'll be over a year before it's launch. What's the point?
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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    I'm worried that media-tyrant and neo-con sycophant Murdoch is getting too cozy with Toyoduh. Last week's Prison Break premiere was a huge Toyouduh ad. 24 started with GM cars years ago, then 1 year with Ford and then it went to Toyoduh.
    Previews for NBC's My Worst Enemy show the main star in a new Camaro.
    Chysler keeps The Shield for its final season.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Quote Originally Posted by Chaz_23 View Post
    I'm worried that media-tyrant and neo-con sycophant Murdoch is getting too cozy with Toyoduh. Last week's Prison Break premiere was a huge Toyouduh ad. 24 started with GM cars years ago, then 1 year with Ford and then it went to Toyoduh.
    Toyota has the money
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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    That new show with a guy playing two different people that don't know the other exist. Damn I can remember the name, but the commercials show him driving a new Camaro.

    That's it! My Own Worst Enemy!!!

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Lot's of GM product and ads in "The Cleaner" including a Yukon Hybrid... Tuesdays on A&E
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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Quote Originally Posted by tholland View Post
    Lot's of GM product and ads in "The Cleaner" including a Yukon Hybrid... Tuesdays on A&E
    If you watch Ghostwhisperer's, You will see that Jennifer Love Hewitt no longer drive a red Jeep. She now drive a red Saturn Outlook.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Quote Originally Posted by tholland View Post
    Lot's of GM product and ads in "The Cleaner" including a Yukon Hybrid... Tuesdays on A&E
    If you watch Ghostwhisperer's, You will see that Jennifer Love Hewitt no longer drives a red Jeep. She now drive a red Saturn Outlook.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    The Corvette was always emblematic of summertime and California. The Beach Boys are posing by a Corvette (and a Pontiac GTO) on the cover of their album "Shut Down Vol. 2."

    The article is wrong even if it's a minor nitpick...

    The other car isn't a GTO, it's a '64 Grand Prix...



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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Quote Originally Posted by squat View Post
    The only toyota I remember being in smallville was the Tundra, and that was only for one episode. I do distinctly remember the kind of advertising you're talking about for the ford fusion though.
    How could you be a Smallville watcher and miss the Yaris? Even if you miss Chloe say "Let's get in my Yaris," about 10 times during the season you'd have to notice the Yaris infested virtual comic strip thing they run during commercials!



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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    i saw a CAMARO SS in Manhattan the other day. I wanted to take a pic but when I was done with work they started bringing it in the building. You should see it in TV tomorrow. They're using for the Fashion Rocks show. Dunno what time or channel.
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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    Quote Originally Posted by Ming View Post
    How could you be a Smallville watcher and miss the Yaris? Even if you miss Chloe say "Let's get in my Yaris," about 10 times during the season you'd have to notice the Yaris infested virtual comic strip thing they run during commercials!



    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2szVXXgTuus[/YOUTUBE]
    I almost stopped watching smallville when they pounded that POS yaris, I actually liked chloe sullivan!!! Otherwise, Burn Notice on USA uses a 9-3 and a cts.






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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    For awhile they focused on the Ford Fusion that Lois Lane drove in Smallville.

    Nissan also pushed the Rogue in Heroe's a little.

    I noticed Melinda (JL Hewitt's character) was driving an Outlook in Ghostwhisperer now. Much nicer vehicle than the Jeep she had.

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    Re: GM's cars take center stage in popular music, movies, TV shows

    idk if any of you have the Planet green or whatever it is..its a new Cable channel devoted to soley "Green" things and programs. GM, Chevy in particular, is ALL over that channel. Commercials, suplying trucks and cars in the documentarys, as well as hosting/introducing the shows. Everything is "brought to you buy Chevy, from gas friendly to gas free, thats an american revolution." its pretty awesome. not once have i ever seen any other car company on that channel.

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