They say you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover. I often do anyway. I subscribe to the regular email alerts from abebooks.com (ABE originally stood for Advanced Book Exchange—it's now been sucked up by the juggernaut that is Amazon, of which I am a tiny part) because I enjoy seeing the book covers. I think that's supposed to be an ape up there, but it looks the artist used a monkey hand puppet as a model. That just might be the best Poe cover ever, sez me. Nevermore!
As you know I've been car shopping lately, which feels like taking your brain out of its skull and leaving it out in a hailstorm. Shopping on the basis of appearance complicates a complicated matter even further. And yet I can't help myself. Some people don't care about how a car looks—my father didn't; he owned a Checker once, and another time sent his secretary out on her lunch break to buy a car for him (I believe his only instructions were that it had to be American and it had to have bench seats in front. She returned with a red AMC Gremlin, which was relatively quickly adopted by my youngest brother; my father was fond of saying my brother "drove the ass off it," a joke, as Gremlins looked like a normal American sedan with the trunk lopped off.)
There's another issue that seems to have raised its ugly head since I last went car shopping: many car companies seem to be trying to enforce a particular "look" across their entire line, mainly by making all the grilles match. So, for instance, not only does this Acura...
...Dr. Seuss (do not buy this car in Grinch green!), but...they all look like that. Every single Acura has a close version of that same look. All very...orderly. Regimented, even. A bit Stepfordish. And, from a style standpoint, so very sad and wrong, for one reason. Acuras are very nice cars, and many people like the way they look. But just as surely some must not; and therein lies the problem. Because if all the cars in a manufacturer's line look exactly the same, and you happen not to like that look, then you are out of luck. You have no option. Love the little upturned smile, the Acura corporate look, or shop elsewhere.
When I was pondering on this, what occurred to me was...Nikon. (Aha, you thought this was another off-topic post, didn't you? You thought this was another car post, because I have car-hail on the brain, didn't you? Well, it's not. Okay, it sort of is. But not entirely.) For years now, Nikon SLRs and DSLRs have had much the same style—and I wonder if it's not an expression of the same sort of corporate cultural conservatism that resulted in all Acuras looking like slightly morphed clones of each others. Oh, I know, I know, a lot of you will say so what, cameras are just tools, and it's good to have all the cameras have consistent controls and be familiar to the longtime user and yatta to the third power. Granted, granted. There's a good sound logical reason for the D700 to be a near-clone, style-wise, of the D3. But does a F5 really have to resemble an N80? Nobody ever bought both of those needing consistent controls. Do Nikons all have to look so much alike, one generation after another? The F2 didn't look like the F3, after all, which didn't look like the F4.
I want a little variety once in a while. I would like a choice of styles, a choice of looks, without having to go to another manufacturer altogether. Damn me, I am just that superficial; I am just that hopelessly shallow. Call me trivial and trifling—I won't argue. But I'm just getting tired of the same old look.
Down with corporate conformity, I say, in cars and in cameras....
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.