I believe I’ve made my position regarding one of the most important philosophical issues known to mankind, where the eyes of an anthropomorphized car should be, abundantly clear: the headlights. The eyes of a car-face are the headlights. This is the right answer, the just answer, the moral answer.
Sadly, there are certain individuals who disagree. And they want me fired, because they simply can’t handle the truth.
The organization demanding my dismissal is the Disney Pixar Cars Roleplay organization, an influential and globally-important association of people who like to pretend to be the characters from the Cars series of movies on Facebook.
Here’s the email they sent to everyone at Jalopnik (and possibly BCC’d the State Department):
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
Where do you think you get off?
“The eyes of anthropomorphized cars are the headlights, not the windshield.” Really? Care to say that again? You are dead wrong. Everyone knows Pixar put the eyes on the windshield to be able to do more with their facial reactions. If you knew anything about the series, you would know that. But you didn’t know that! Another piss-poor, uninformed journalist. Sad state that our media is in.
Do you really think that looks natural? You can barely tell the eyes are in the headlights.
You go on to say, “Plus, if the eyes are in the windshield, what do you do with the lights? Ignore them? Pretend they’re just two evenly sized, symmetrical moles? Growths?” Well pal, you do exactly what Pixar did. Take a look:
That looks perfectly fine, no? Your argument seems pretty stupid now, doesn’t it?We aren’t just calling for you to remove the article - oh no, we want much more. We want Mr. Jason Torchinsky to be fired because of this. Yes, FIRED. We will not stand for this incorrect and blasphemous journalism anymore. No, not in the year 2015.
If you would like to come in contact with us, you can reach us on our Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPixarCar…
Have a great day,
Disney Pixar Cars Roleplay
It’s clearly a passionate argument. And it’s probably worth explaining a bit about exactly who this group is and what the hell they’re actually doing out there on Facebook, pretending to be fictional anthropomorphized cars from a kid’s movie.
They’re part of a movement known as Internet R0le-Play which is, as you can probably figure out from the name, people pretending to be other people on the Internet. You know, like that famous dog and almost all your friends on Facebook that seem to go on amazing vacations every three weeks.
Vice’s Motherboard had a good story on groups like these a while back, and what makes people join them:
But by and large, players are content to combine role-play with their personal profiles. The consensus is that most of these players are very young, likely in their early teens. As a generation who learned to write fanfic before they learned to tweet, it makes sense that they view Facebook as a creative outlet. The games they engage in—everything from werewolf conventions to Sherlock-themed mafia wars—serve as an outlet for the bitching, the drama, and the Machiavellian self-advancement which might otherwise turn into cyberbullying.
They have grown up with a very different concept of ‘me IRL’: any online setting is fair game for self-fashioning. Fantasy role-play, the ultimate anti-selfie, helps to ease players into real life. It serves as training for the day when they role-play as themselves.
[...] For all its eccentricity, role-playing appears to come naturally to those who do it. And yet it goes against everything Facebook wants of us—a service that even manages to harvest shadow profiles on people that haven’t signed up. To join the social network but then act out of character confounds the patterns Facebook aims to record. In a small way it disrupts the slow, pernicious blandness that social media encourages, letting our alter egos spill out messily around the edges.
The Disney Pixar Cars Roleplay people have 36 freaking rules about how to properly pretend you’re a talking car on Facebook, and have a big list of characters from the Cars movies roleplayers can pick from.
I’m not really clear how seriously anyone takes this, or what people get out of it, but, whatever, if they’re having fun, have at it. Well, at least until I saw this:
Gaaah! What the hell am I looking at? It looks like a heavily warped and serpentined 1966 VW 1300 Beetle with... balls? Breasts? What the hell are those pendulous grey sacks of terror there?
Though, as terrifying as this is, I should point out that the eyes are in their proper location in the headlights. I’m just not sure this helps my argument or not.
There’s other puzzling stuff to outsiders, too, like this strange text message conversation with ‘Mom’ and this odd Lightning McQueen drawing that seems to be placed into all sorts of images and inside joke-y memes, and these humanized Mater and Lightning McQueen people.
So, make what you will of who these people are, and what their windshield-eyes goals may be.
Me personally, I have no problem with them! As far as I’m concerned, they’re good folks, part of the rich tapestry that is the Internet. From a cultural and sociological standpoint, what they’re doing is fascinating.
And if you think about it another way, these people are car enthusiasts like we are... just in a very different way.
What I do have a problem with is them being chronically wrong about the placement of eyes on anthropomorphic cars. And trying to get me fired, because that was a dick move.
In the interest of full disclosure, this email did start a discussion among the Jalopnik Supreme Council, which consists of Jalopnik Prime Minister Matt Hardigree, Jalopnik Managing Imperator Patrick George, and Gawker Media owner Nick Denton. A portion of their discussion is reproduced here:
Hardigree: Look, we all know the Disney Pixar Cars Roleplay group. Everyone knows them. I don’t think we have much of a choice here; Jason has to go.
George: Also, he’s kind of a dipshit.
Hardigree: Yes, yes, exactly. Such a dipshit.
Denton: Wait, who?
George: That dipshit. The little one, with the hair and that... that face.
Hardigree: Crap, wait. His contract is pretty weird. I don’t think we can fire him unless we get the American Council of Churches on board. And they’re totally in his pocket.
Denton: Wait, who?
In the end, it was decided I would be kept on, for now at least.
And I want to take this moment to re-iterate my stand: the eyes of a car are the headlights. Not the windshield. Sure, successful cartoon cars have used the windshield for the eyes — Susie the Little Blue Coupe comes to mind, and that provided the stylistic influence for Cars — but that doesn’t mean it’s right, philosophically.
I know why the Cars movies use this degenerate method of ocular placement — Pixar’s Jay Ward told me himself: it’s to keep the car’s faces from being too close to the ground, like a snake. And I can understand that. Pixar is full of incredibly talented animators and designers, and they did make these conceptually repugnant windshield-eyes work well.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the right way. It’s just a compromise they felt compelled to use. (Hell, they even got it right with at least one car, Celine Dephare, in Cars 2.)
I’m certain at some point in the future, a more enlightened and bold Pixar will go back and correct their error, and place the eyes where they belong, in the headlights. Deep down, they know it’s true.
Look, I understand how important a group of people, some of whom are possibly adults, who pretend to be characters from cars on Facebook is. Nobody is arguing with the value this organization brings to society and humanity itself. But it’s time this group accepts that while the Cars movies may use the debased windshield-eyes method, the one, true way to anthropomorphize a car is by having the headlights be the eyes.
Look at nearly any actual car, and you’ll see: the headlights are clearly the eyes of the car’s face. And no threats to my job or myself will ever change that. Even if you modify pictures of me to include car-windshield-eyes, like this one they did of me in front of a VW Brasilia:
Sure, pictures like that sting. They sting badly. But I remain undaunted. I’m sorry, Disney Pixar Cars Roleplay group. The original post stays up. I’m not getting fired. Because truth will always have a place here at Jalopnik.
So, to answer your first question, that’s where I fucking think I get off.