Saturn runs out of road. Evidence of dysfunction or merely the circle of life?
October 2, 2009
Saturn or a hearse?
As most of you know, the Saturn car line is likely going out of business. The next model year will probably be its last.
Why are we surprised? A brand has reached its end. Nothing more. Nothing less. This is not an uncommon event. On the contrary it happens all the time. Everything is transient, including you, me, your children, your dog, the trees in your yard, even your favorite pair of blue jeans. All we are is dust in the wind…
In this context the short lifespan of a value-priced automobile hardly seems remarkable. To some extent even the potential demise of General Motors has no grander meaning than its time had come.
People tend to pass judgment on dying brands as flawed or deserving of their fate. Sometimes that’s fair. But what about successful things that come to an end?
Take the long running TV show, Mash. It could have kept going. The show had the viewers and the accolades. Conceptually, there are always more incoming wounded…or battles to fight. But just as the “show must go on” it must come to an end. TV shows have relatively short life spans, even the best ones. As do powerful regimes, bustling towns, grand buildings and yes, alas, even the best people in the world: Kaput eventually.
I believe looking for scapegoats is a natural reaction to our own fears about dying. We are the only living creatures to be aware of our mortality. Knowing this sad fact causes terrific unease. If only we could understand our purpose and place. But since we cannot we obsess over the mortality of things like banks, corporations and automobile manufacturers like Saturn.