Sunday, February 01, 2004

Riceboys and Their Rice, Part 1: Have You No Taste? 

This world leaves me with no shortage of stuff that pisses me off, and I've now found a topic that bugs me so much I've decided to devote two separate entries to it. This topic is the phenomenon known as rice. The followers of this trend are called ricers, or riceboys. But before I do my other entry on the myths of "import tuning" and riceboy cliches, I suppose my first entry should explain what a riceboy is, and along the way I'll explain why I hate their "style", or more appropriately their lack of it.

If you have ever driven a car on a public road (or if you've seen The Fast and the Furious) then you've no doubt seen them. Overstyled and loud, riced-up cars are cars which have been "decked out" with a huge wing, an exhaust tip the size of a coffee can, chrome wheels, and a "body kit". These cars are made to look fast, but most of the time are not. The term "rice" originated from the fact that this was originally done to Japanese cars, but now any car can be "riced", from Camaros to BMWs. Usually, however, they are some form of front-wheel-drive, four cylinder car, such as a Honda Civic or a Dodge Neon. In other words, something that isn't actually fast.

There are three elements of rice. The first: Attitude. Riceboy is typically cocky and into "modern machismo" (translation: He's a white guy who pretends he's black). They wear baggy clothing, backwards turned visors (which are sometimes worn upside-down, hell if I know why), and listen to slow-moving hip hop and call it "speed music". Ricers are enamored of the urban street-racing culture, which is really where the ricer "style" began. The values of the riceboy subculture are almost counter to those of society. For example, women are seen as being nothing more than objects which can be won in races and pose half naked all over the cars. What makes this worse is that the women often enjoy this "groupie status". Riceboy will also brag openly about his alleged wealth, as shown by the fact that all of his money is spent on branded streetwear and visual modifications to his car.

The second element: The "performance mods". As I said earlier, riceboy typically drives an economy car, often a 10 year old hand-me-down from his parents as a graduation gift. A stock Honda Civic performs like...well, a stock Honda Civic. Which means really damn slow. Riceboy doesn't have much in the way of money (and what he does have was spent on those ever-important visual "mods"), so he buys the simplest bolt on parts. These will invariably include any combination of the following:

*A "cold air intake", which is often placed in a location so that it does nothing but draw in hot air and decrease performance.
*An aftermarket exhaust which utilitzes the stock header but has a near-hollow muffler with a large diameter tip, ensuring no increase in performance but it will make a sound roughly akin to a long, rattling fart.
*Sometimes when questioned, riceboy will list his spark plugs and spark plug wires as a performance modifications, to make his car sound faster than it is.
*Chrome engine dress-up kits and aftermarket oil filler caps, which do jack shit for performance but make the car look really zoomy to anyone looking under the hood.
*Cut factory springs, which means worse handling performance and a harsh ride, but it makes the car sit really low, making it appear as though riceboy has purchased aftermarket springs.
*Strut tower braces are also usually installed, and while slightly beneficial to performance, riceboy only installs them because you can see them under the hood and they look really "tight". They're also typically chrome-plated, or stainless steel, so they'll be shiny.

Finally there's the most important element of rice: The visual modifications. Even if the owner isn't a stereotypical riceboy and the car has genuine performance modifications, this alone can make a car rice. Here are a few popular riceboy "visual mods":

*Altezza taillights. These taillights feature chrome or carbon-fiber backing with circular taillights in the middle and a clear lens over them. They're named after the Toyota Altezza (sold in North America as the Lexus IS300), which was one of the first production vehicles to use them. These lights look remarkably like infected boils.
*A large wing will almost always be bolted to the trunk, which is supposed to increase downforce to the rear wheels at higher speeds for improved handling...even though the average street race is usually just a 1/4 mile "drag". The wings are usually made of unpainted aluminum, and look like something front an 8 year old's Erector set. In short, they're really hideous.
*If riceboy can't afford a tasteless custom paintjob (usually mixing colors like green and orange or something similarly disgusting), he'll buy decals to go on the car, typically in some pointless geometric pattern. Speed-part decals are a must for riceboys, whether they have the parts or not. Stickers like "Wings West", "Hooker Headers", "APC", and "Neuspeed" are plastered all over the car, often when the owner of the car doesn't even know what half of these stickers mean. Sometimes they're arranged in what we anti-rice people call a "shopping list", that is, they're all in neat little rows under the side mirrors.
*Riceboy usually has purchased a set of aftermarket wheels, 17 inches or more in diameter. Sometimes they're chrome wheels, since they're flashier than plain argent. The ones who are more thrifty with their money buy imitation chrome hubcaps that slightly resemble aftermarket wheels from a distances, but are quite obviously hubcaps when you get within twenty feet of them. Sometimes they have dust covers made to look like drilled brake rotors. After all, who needs more stopping power when you can just look like you have it?
*Painted brake calipers and drums. Ricers love to paint their brake calipers a noticeable color (such as bright yellow), because they show up through their aftermarket wheels and look zoomy. But if riceboy can't afford to do (or maybe is to lazy to do) a four-wheel disc brake conversion, he'll paint his rear brake drums the same color as his front calipers. This only serves to draw more attention to the fact that he still has drum brakes in the rear.
*Body kits are a must. Any riceboy who doesn't have a body kit is trying to save money for one. A body kit is a collection of parts purchased for the purpose of replacing every plastic part of the car's body with part that looks similar, just with more scoops and huge "cosmetic" air-ducts in it. Riceboys do this to make their cars look different from the other cars or to make them look more "aggressive", but in the end they all end up buying the same few body kits and rather than aggressive they make the cars look weird and ghastly.
*Interior modifications are usually no more than a really large tachometer bolted to the dashboard (even though the one in the instrument cluster is functioning perfectly well), an aftermarket stereo, and dash trim painted to match the outside of the car. Sometimes a set of lightweight "racing seats" are used in place of the stock seats, but any weight advantages are overshadowed with the 200 pounds of stereo equipment installed to play the hip-hop "speed music" at over 300 decibels.

If you'd like to see some good examples of rice, follow the link to the left for the site that I usually hang out on, "Rice Cop". And next time you see a riceboy in public, do us all a favor and laugh your ass off at him. Maybe if we start making fun of them enough they'll just go away.

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