The video (which up till now has been shared 500+ times) is meant for fun, yet it reminded me that it still exists, this idea that “a good follower is like a sports car”. Ok, I can see why “sports car” could sound like a compliment. I mean - quality and exclusivity and generally being the object of desire for most guys? C’mon, you’d be stupid not to want to be viewed like this. There’s just one problem with the metaphor: a car does not have a mind of its own. It doesn’t even have a brain. And for following, you need a brain.I agree and disagree, for different reasons.
I completely concede that most women are likely to understand this metaphor as referring to an inanimate object that looks pretty, serves someone's vanity or pleasure, and has no other meaning. Because the world of sports cars - as often the case with STEM fields in general - is likely to be seen as unwelcoming to them, they will not have in mind any of what the car really represents.
But, for reasons particular to me, my default interpretation of 'sports car' is not, and never has been, a scaled-up designer handbag driven by a prat in shades. These do exist, of course, and they may well be what people have in mind when the metaphor is used. But I don't have to interpret any metaphor the way the speaker has in mind. Instead, I interpret it as a car designed for sport, that is, to win races.
Secondly, a racing car is much more than an inanimate object. It did not grow as it is, like a plant or an animal, or erode like a mountain. It is a made thing, made by people. Nor is it made to serve the driver; it is made to serve their mutual purpose of unreasonable speed. The two are made and chosen, respectively, for that alone.
If you think about what and who is really represented by that physical object, you will see something between a few hundred and several thousand people. The numerous highly skilled workers who made all the pieces, put them together and kept them in perfect working order; the enormous logistical effort; the trackside operation from the team principal, to the race engineer, to the fifteenth mechanic; and significant numbers of people with centuries' collective knowledge and experience of complex technology and critical engineering, materials science, physics, chemistry, fluid dynamics, electronics, computer science, and so on. I once briefly dated a guy who wrote scientific papers at a famous university about how the tyres worked. That's the kind of brain-power you need to put a racecar on the road, even a bad one. Driving is a skilled job, but it takes a lot more than that level of skill, dedication, or talent, to make a racecar.
I do not argue for one moment that anyone who uses this metaphor actually means it this way. I do not recommend using this metaphor. It's more likely to be understood as crushing and alienating, than not.
However, don't tell me that a racing car doesn't "have" a brain. While trivially true, it is also total nonsense. It has hundreds, and most of them are probably pretty good ones. And if someone uses this metaphor to you, I invite you to understand it my way.