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I've read somewhere that the average American human encounters AT LEAST 1,000 advertisements everyday, and these days it seems more like it's 10,000! You have magazine ads, tv ads, billboards, marquees, t-shirts, tatoos- EVERYWHERE. The original ad was invented to make people spend their money on the week's new big thing and considering that prostitution was the first job in known human history, one can only assume that the first ad was a beautiful pair of breasts, but I digress. Now, there is a public advertising for just about EVERYTHING you can think of and there's no end in sight- but it's the bumper stickers that have become most interesting. As kids, we'd ask our mother to put the new shiny bumper sticker we got from school on her beloved maroon '84 Honda Accord and she NEVER would. "It will never come off!" she'd say. So instead, we'd resort to putting the stickers on the walls of our rooms and on our notebooks as an alternative. I remember the days when the bumper sticker advertised semi-profound thoughts and humorous quirky quips:
My Mercedes is in the shop.
Baby on Board.
If you don't like my driving, kiss my ass!
Look twice, save a life.
A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
Then politicians caught on and started putting their names permanently on people's cars:
Reagan Bush '80
Webb knows the way
Clinton Gore '92
Nader for President
AUH2O (that was before my time)
Re-elect Bill Campbell
Nowadays, bumper stickers seem more like subliminal messages intended to silently alter your mentality and convert you to a particular idea:
(I like that one!)
Support Unpopular Music!
Allah is the Way!
God is my copilot, who's riding with you?
This got me thinking about how personal belief adverts have become more aggresive in nature over the years. The mood of these messages used to be "please buy our stuff.....pretty please" and "please support our cause....it would be nice of you". Nowadays, the mood is "buy or be sorry!", "support the war or you're an unpatriotic bastard!" and "pray or else". It also reflects the way our society has gone from one of polite trust and courtesy in our communities to one of aggressive solitude and anonymity. Honestly, I'm even guilty of it myself. I've been living in this house for two years and until a few weeks ago, I couldn't tell you the names of any of my neighbors. We speak when we pass each other and I'll take them their post if it ends up in my mailbox, but that's about as far as it goes. I JUST met my neighbor Calloway from across the street, and HE came over to introduce himself and say "Congratulations on the new arrival."
Pitiful I am, I know- but that's how life has become in the nineteen-two-thousands. We no longer have the capability to honestly and respectfully communicate our differing opinions to each other. Barber shops, cafes, bars, grocery stores and street corners used to be the venues people went to in order to share their ideas and gain new perspectives. Now people seem to frequent the places where everyone agrees with their own personal opinions in order to avoid verbal conflicts. It's much too easy to say what you believe on a 4x11 sticker and slap it to the backside of your car, safely insulating the driver from everyone else's competing opinions. Sadly, our overall mentalities have become just as miniscule as those adhesive laden pieces of paper. They have truly come to represent what America is these days, big cars, big ideas, small words, smaller thoughts.
The newest generation of bumper sticker has spawned the magnetized "Support ______" colored ribbons that can been seen on many vehicles travelling the roads today. They're even MORE convenient because you can actually pull it off the car if you decide you no longer want to support that particular cause. GENIUS! Whether it's for AIDS, Breast Cancer, the environment or the troops (who need to bring their asses back!!!), these ribbons are another way for Americans to show the rest of the world how they feel from the safety of their cars. You would think that the newest of the nations's car advertisements- ones of such powerful issues, would lack the humor I miss from my childhood, but I'm proud to say that the bumper sticker humor I remember as a kid is BACK.