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Fabricated Screaming Fan figure attaches to car windows.

Scream Therapy

More angst per gallon.

by Michael Betzold

Published in April, 2009

Sadly, Edvard Munch didn't own an SUV. So when he decided to portray a person overwhelmed by existential dread, he had to settle for painting a figure with a rubbery haunted face walking near a fjord in Oslo.

Fortunately, Todd Kauranen has access to Fords rather than fjords. The Chelsea automotive designer, who's worked for the Ford Motor Company for nearly twenty years, is resourceful, too. So when he started his own side business, TEK Design Studio, he had no trouble figuring out how to fashion a molded plastic screaming-face accessory with a bracket that attaches to the window of a car, truck, van, or SUV.

He calls his creation the Screaming Fan. But while the plastic face resembles the famous Norwegian in Munch's 1893 painting, the emotion it conveys is not angst, but anger. Available in Spartan green and white, Wolverine maize and blue, black-and-white checks for NASCAR fans, and American stars and stripes, the Screaming Fan doesn't look merely supportive of his chosen team-he looks truly menacing.

This is exactly as Todd Kauranen intends. Nothing irks him so much, he says, as people who drive with an American flag attached to their imported car.

"I'm passionate about 'The Amer i can,'" says Kauranen of his red-white-and-blue version, "because [his is] a company that's in America-and also because my brother-in-law died in Iraq." The scream of "The American," he says, is "about supporting our troops and country." In fact, says Kauranen, "I'd like to see them on the Humvees over in Iraq." But even Kauranen's economic patriotism has its limits: in a tribute to the power of globalization, all his screaming heads are made in China.     (end of article)

[Originally published in April, 2009.]


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