Bob Dylan’s at it again, ticking off a few people by shilling for Chrysler during the Super Bowl. I was a little shocked to see him as the front man for the Chrysler 200. In my own small way, though, I’ve endured being called a sellout, having moved from journalism to public relations many years ago. As a result, I’m hesitant to lay the label on anyone.
I have no idea why Dylan did the Chrysler commercial, but in doing a little research, I learned it wasn’t his first. In 2007, he appeared in a commercial for the Cadillac Escalade. Believe it or not, he’s been in a Victoria’s Secret commercial. Heck, he even showed up on Dharma and Greg in 1999.
When you think about it, Dylan has courted the “sellout” label his whole career. When he moved from acoustic to electric, he “sold out.” When he cut an album with Johnny Cash, he “sold out.” When he released two albums of Christian music, he “sold out.”
As far as I know, Dylan never took a pledge of poverty, and he never declared himself to be against capitalism. If anything, he seems to be a champion of ordinary folks, and isn’t helping sell cars also keeping some jobs alive for them?
I’m not saying I had no problems with the commercial. For one thing, I can’t make sense of the slogan, “America’s Import.” If you’re touting that the Chrysler 200 is made in America, then why is it “America’s Import”? Last time I checked, Detroit was close to the Canadian border, but it was still part of the Lower 48. If anything, Chrysler should set its sights on the 200’s becoming one of America’s exports.
I’m amused that the commercial glosses over the fact that since 2011, Chrysler has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Italian automaker Fiat. For some time before that, it was paired up with German-based Daimler-Benz. And while it’s made in America, I’m fairly certain that many of the 200’s parts come from Canada, Mexico and other countries.
Chrysler hasn’t bled true red, white and blue for some time now. None of this, however, is meant to downplay the importance of the car to Detroit. The 200 comes off an assembly line in Michigan, and the jobs it creates are important.
Dylan always has been prescient. He saw this most recent criticism coming as early as 1966. Consider a couple of verses from Rainy Day Women #12 and 35:
They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned.
Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned.
Now, they’re stoning him for trying to sell a car.
I’m sure of one thing: Bob Dylan never cared whether people think he sold out, and he doesn’t care now. My advice to him? Don’t think twice, it’s all right.