Fiat finds out that the world is losing its sense of humor. With a prankster owner’s manual

We have read this story in Argentina Autoblog and could not believe our eyes. When Leo Burnett Argentina created the “Manual del Buen Uso” for Fiat last year, it received a prize from the Argentinian advertizers’ association. It could translate into “Good Use Manual” and it was considered a funny piece of Public Relations with customers. The idea was that manuals have always been created to explain how the car works, but not to help you extract all the fun possible out of it. So Leo Burnett asked Fiat’s clients to send good use tips to try to win a Fiat 500. The best ones were gathered in the manual, which was to be given to every one that bought a Fiat car. The problem is that it has been disclosed in Facebook by Agustina Altman as a “compendium of stereotypes and misogynist messages”. That sort of interpretation went viral and the response was so negative Fiat has twitted it would abort the idea of giving them away.

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Fiat says “we inform that the good use manual has been taken out of circulation” and “we are sorry it has had this impact since it was never intended to be disrespectful toward the community”. But what could be this disrespectful? Well, this is what social justice warriors, or SJW, have pointed out:

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COPILOT

The candidate to be a copilot will be obliged to talk to the driver. If not a very good talker, will at least have to know some jokes. In case it is a woman, will at least have to have beautiful legs.

That would be misogynist. In what world admiring a woman’s body is misogynist? According to all dictionaries, misogynists are the ones that hate or mistrust women. That could fit into a stereotype, but is it a stereotype to want to be in good company? What it says, in our opinion, is that if the girl is not a good talker and has nothing interesting to share, she could at least be beautiful. But there is more.

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LET PEOPLE PASS

It is always important to let people pass in the right places, although you may do a special concession if the other driver is a very good-looking girl or if you find her gorgeous.

Back to the accusations on Fiat’s manual: is that a stereotype? Is that misogynist? Is that so offensive to women?

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PASSENGER

If our passenger is a lady and her skirt is too short, we recommend, in order to keep our concentration (at driving), that she travels in the back seat. If the skirt is not so short, but you are clumsy, she should also travel in the back.

This is almost the script of a comedy. Guy sees beautiful girl in the front seat with a short skirt, loses concentration and hits the car. Or guy shifts and accidentally touches the girl’s legs, gets slapped and also crashes. That may be stereotypical, but about the man, not about the woman in question.

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MUSIC VOLUME

Even if it is not ‘Reggaeton’, you can also put you music up to the last volume to listen what you love in life. But it is good to know where you do so, since it is not advisable to listen to Ricky Martín around Isla Maciel.

Isla Maciel is a violent neighborhood close to Buenos Aires where gay people are not welcome. That has been seen as homophobic… As if anyone would risk doing what the text describes in order to fight violence and injustice… It is just common sense. And last, but not least…

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SEDUCTION MODE

If your Fiat is used in seduction mode, or else, if you use it to flirt, avoid any sort of sticker of the kind ‘the best thing my mother did was the boy behind the wheel’ or ‘I am also the latest model’.

Those sticker really claim “loser”, so this is a good piece of advice. Can it be considered misogynist? Can someone claim a woman is seen stereotypically through this text? Come on…

Fiat has unfortunately stumbled upon the “politically correct” fever that wants to fight injustice and wrongdoing even where it does not exist. Just because it was making fun of the constant need we have to find our significant others, whether for our whole lives or for the night. Or are all Argentinian advertisers a bunch of male chauvinists that want to reinforce patriarchy? Or are the clients that have sent the tips just a bunch of biased idiots?

It is a pity this work is put to rest out of hysteria from a society that wants to protect women. Fair enough, but how can that arise from a world in which everyone is supposed to behave as a robot? As machines that would not be fascinated by beautiful legs at all? They would be indifferent to them. They would not be more gentle to women, but to women and men alike, or else, not at all.

This is the same sort of world that considers cars as killing machines. Roads and streets as a space taken away from citizens. Poverty as a direct result of richness, as a crazy sort of yin and yang. One that we definitely do not agree with. And that we hope that will not prevail.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.