NORTH MANKATO, Minnesota – Even though the Volkswagen diesel-emissions crisis has serious implications for the company, the auto industry, consumers and government, various pop-culture wags have still managed to wring a little humor out of the situation.
For example, the owners of Halloween.com have come to the aid of anyone stumped for a Halloween costume by providing instructions for assembling a Volkswagen Diesel Scandal outfit from products available on the site, plus a few assorted household items.
Start with their Deluxe Smoke Mask, Video Game Car Costume (a 3D “car” worn over the shoulders), Adult Black Combat Boots, Spider Web Decor and Fake Money, then add a toilet paper tube, gas can and black spray paint.
The tube gets attached to the back of the car as a tailpipe, the spider web is sprayed black as exhaust smoke, and the gas can, with a VW label attached and fake money going into the spout, becomes a carry-along accessory.
Once assembled, the costume serves as a candy-gathering indictment of Volkswagen’s attempt to circumvent emissions regulations by installing a “defeat device” on some of its diesel engines.
CarThrottle.com, an online car community and media-sharing platform, published a compilation of humorous posts.
The posts include a photo of an old-time locomotive spewing black smoke, with the caption, “Still cleaner than a Volkswagen”; a picture of a mechanic covered in soot telling his boss that he’s just finishing up with the test on a VW; and the image of a dome over Volkswagen headquarters in Germany, with the legend, “Drastic action at VW HQ?”
And, not surprisingly, the late-night talk-show hosts haven’t been silent on the subject, either.
Conan O’Brien came up with his own Volkswagen commercial parody, in which VW complains that no one is paying attention to its other “wonderfully deceitful features.” These supposedly include an onboard computer that can defeat police radar, a fake handicap-parking permit that drops out of a car’s mirror, and a vehicle invisibility device for stalkers.
On Comedy Central’s Nightly Show, host Larry Wilmore criticized Volkswagen in one segment for duping environmentally conscious buyers, saying the deceit was like “telling people you’re selling them Tofurky, but in reality it’s baby panda.”
And Bill Maher, host of Real Time on HBO, said he dug up some old print ads that should’ve been a clue to the coming scandal.
The ads feature such headlines as: “Volkswagen, the first name in clouds of poison gas”; “The Volkswagen Touareg, it’s German for asthma”; “We made a green car that pollutes. And people say Germans aren’t funny”; and a photo of the Hindenburg with the caption, “It worked fine when we tested it.”
Edmunds says: Although the Volkswagen emissions scandal has serious worldwide implications, it was inevitable that the crisis would elicit this kind of humor from the pundits.