Case 039: Jeep Thrillsfiled September 29, 2022
Here at The InQueery, we aim to uphold our corporate responsibility as stewards of the environment, making sustainable choices wherever possible. Since our founding, a decommissioned Weinermobile has served as our company vehicle. But after years of testing the limits of her capacity and general wear and tear, she was no longer cutting the mustard. We had been planning to outfit our headquarters with energy-efficient electric charging stations and a squadron of key lime Chevy Bolts—that is, until Chevrolet announced a recall due to their batteries bursting into flames (gay). For now we’ll have to settle for what we can find.
Not knowing much about autos, we headed to the local used car lot. There, a kindly, or perhaps opportunistic, salesperson clocked our bewilderment and let us in on a little trade secret: Turns out Jeep Wranglers are the hottest used car on the market right now. The salesperson leaned in closer to whisper that furthermore, “A Wrangler is also probably the best fit for your company’s…vibe.”
Suburus, sure, but Jeeps? The car that embodies “off-roading” and “horsepower” and “zero percent APR” and other terms we were never meant to understand? The car that’s marketed to straight men who envision themselves as outdoorsy and adventurous, but whose idea of adventure is a trip to Costco? The car that Kevin Hart drives? But as we contemplated the matter during the bumpy Weinermobile ride back to HQ, it began to make sense. For the sake of consumer research and finding new company cars, we decided to embark on an anthropological study of what it is that makes Jeeps…you know…
Though Wranglers descended from military grade vehicles, their reputation belies a very heteroflexible feel (the word Wrangler alone). They’re designed to be taken apart and reconfigured, with removable roofs, doors, and windows. Essentially, they’re armored convertibles. What better way to show off than cruising in a vehicle that puts its passengers on full display?
No amount of mud spray can hide the fact that these are cars that are meant to be looked at, beheld, and admired. What’s more, wranglers are naturally good-looking and cinematic. The visual language of Jeep ads centers on impossibly beautiful vistas, showing the car cutting across a majestic landscape, the star of its own nature documentary. Though rugged, they refuse to blend into a pastoral backdrop boldly standing out in a rainbow of eye-popping hues like Chili Pepper, Punk’n, Hella Yella, Gecko Green, Bikini Pearl, Xtreme Purple, and …Snazzberry. This is a car for outsiders and those who blaze their own trails: in short, queers.
Jeeps have made a big gay splash on screen, too: Cher Horowitz, Lara Croft, Queer As Folk’s Brian Kinney (and the reboot’s Brodie Beaumont) all famously drive one. But no other movie has cemented the Jeep’s place in the popular imagination like the Jurassic Park franchise. The affiliation of the aforementioned iconic protagonists strongly bolsters the argument in favor of Jeeps being queer, but the involvement of Laura Dern is enough to close the case entirely.
In the course of our research it became clear that the affinity for Jeeps, for many a queer, begins in childhood. A Jeep is what Barbie chooses to drive when she’s not riding in her Corvette, and whether you wanted to be Barbie or just gaze upon her nipple-less breasts, her endorsement was more important than J.D. Power and Associates’.
Barbie’s chic mini Jeep was no doubt a prized possession, but the holy grail of children’s toys for a particular era was the Pow-Pow-Power Wheels kid-sized model. Any of those sweet junior Jeeps could fill a child with the car-lust of a Kardashian, but the Barbie beach cruiser was clearly top-of-the-line. Who among us didn’t dream of tearing down the driveway in one of those babies, wind in our hair, letting a friend take the wheel while we perform Tawny Kitaen’s choreography from “Here I Go Again” on the hood?
Well into adulthood, Jeeps continue to evoke fervent feelings for many people. Jeep drivers constitute a sometimes cult-like group with their own rituals and codes. The “Jeep Wave,” in which Jeep drivers acknowledge each other by raising two fingers off the steering wheel, sometimes accompanied by a nod, lets drivers express a sense of community. Jeep fans also collect a stunning array of branded merch and swag, the better to signal to fellow in-group members outside the confines of their vehicles. (Think: tote bags, bisexuals cuffing their pants, or jangling your iced coffee down a bustling street in January.)
Much of the aforementioned fan gear is emblazoned with the unofficial slogan “It’s a Jeep thing. You wouldn’t understand.” But the more we look at Jeeps’ place in the culture at large, the more everything about this queer car clicks into place. The evidence that we’ve amassed points overwhelmingly on the side of Jeeps being totally gay (Jeremy Renner using his spokesmanship to cosplay as Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born aside). Jeep tells us that legends aren’t born, they’re made, and we at The InQueery were made to be legendary, darling. That said, we’re blowing our yearly wig research budget on a hot little fleet of custom Valentino pink Jeeps.
Our conclusion: As Missy Misdemeanor Elliott once said, “beep beep, who got the keys to the Jeep?”
Queer rating: Mandatory singalong whenever “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman comes on.