1. Here is what happens in the ad that General Motors will air during the Super Bowl: Standing in a garage inspired half by the storage unit in True Detective and half by the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia conspiracy meme, Will Ferrell announces that the United States has not adopted electric cars as quickly as Norway. He punches a globe. He fetches his friends Kenan Thompson and Awkwafina (he is on a first-name basis with both, as celebrities always are); they set off for Norway. Along the way, Ferrell describes GM’s new EV fleet. “GM’s Ultium battery is made for all types of vehicles, so soon, everyone can drive an EV,” he says.
2. It is a normal Super Bowl ad: oversaturated, slightly self-aware, blandly patriotic. The setting, a luxe subdivision, is normal. The interactions are normal. (The pandemic appears not to exist.) And, triumphantly, the cars are normal. Ferrell is driving a silver luxury crossover, which is as much the iconic family car of this decade as the station wagon was the iconic family car of the 1970s. Awkwafina and Thompson are driving GM’s new Hummer.
The only twist is that both cars—Ferrell’s Cadillac Lyriq, and his friends’ Hummer EV—have electric motors. Gone are the humpty-dumpty lines of older GM electric vehicles, such as the Chevy Bolt. Gone is the playboy sensuality of the Tesla Model 3. These are normal American cars, being driven in a normal American Super Bowl ad. Since the modern era in American climate politics began in 1988, when the NASA climate scientist James Hansen informed a U.S. Senate committee that the long-hypothesized threat of global warming had begun to make itself felt, 33 years of effort—from environmentalists, scientists, activists, engineers, bureaucrats, politicians, the whole societal caboodle—have gone into this moment, of making electric cars seem normal.