Why Are People Happy to See the Prius Fall?

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Toyota's psychological stock is so low with the Prius recall that CEO Akio Toyoda has personally apologized in The Washington Post. But the mighty Prius's tumble has some people reveling in the schadenfreude. Why? Toby Litt of the Guardian ponders the phenomenon: "To see the Prius recalled due to a manufacturing fault," he says, "has caused an outbreak of global gloating not equalled since Silvio Berlusconi got decked." Then again, he notes, "car ownership is roughly 5% about getting from A to B and 95% about gloating," and the Prius appears to be about proclaiming the owner's environmental bona fides. This "do-gooder" association has spawned an impressive camp of Prius-haters, but Litt says the resentment reflects poorly on them:

If you get really, really angry about tree-hugging and do-gooding, that rather suggests that you're something like the opposite – some kind of specialist in evil deforestation. Which, for some members of I Hate Prius Owners Facebook groups, is probably not too far from the truth.

Is the gloating over the Prius recall connected to ill will towards environmentalists?

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