Some years ago, a Volkswagen was the hero of a couple of children's hit movies. The automobile had the cute little name of Herbie, the nickname of "The Love Bug," and sweet playful antics. Nobody, except this reviewer, saw any harm in asking children to put their innocent affections into an automobile, or to listen to such dialogue as "without a car, you're only half a man" on the part of those impersonating human beings.

And now look what's happened. "Corvette Summer." The hero is now a Corvette, customized and vicious-looking, and the approximation of a person - by "Star Wars" hero Mark Hamill - explains his religion as "Families don't buy Corvettes to go to the supermarket. It's a man's car. Women might drive on to get noticed, but that's not what it is - it's a man's car."

What a man is, according to this characterization, is a kid who is excused for nearly flunking his regular courses because he's so good at shop, a course, in this California only high school, in souping up cars; who goes into business with crooks when the offer is high enough for him; and who grudgingly shares his libido, mostly expended on cars, with an aspiring prostitute. Virtue triumphs, because he ends up cheating the crooks whose money he's been taking.

So you see what that cunning Volkswagen started?

Your child, you innocent child, is now paying good money to go to theater and see a brand-name car commercial.