American philosophy

Aug 10th
Posted by shambo  as Communication, Humor, philosophy

Extra Large Condom Ad

Let me say this about that.

Ask most Americans what has been the greatest influence on the development of their philosophies, their opinions, their fundamental beliefs and most would say: their parents – the Bible – the internet – their teachers – history.  All WRONG!!  Sure, all these things have some impact on the shaping of our intellectual perception of the world, but NONE can compare to the impact of advertisements, tee shirts, bumper stickers and graffiti.

Ads, tee shirts, bumper stickers and graffiti are the instrumentation of street philosophy that can be so compelling that it is instantly committed to memory and can be recalled, verbatim, decades later.  Even though it occurred in 1983, I still recall the image of the 20 year old hard-body, walking down the dock at the ‘Faro Blanco Yacht Basin’  in the Florida Keys wearing a tee shirt that read:

“You can’t be first – but you might be next.”

As a simple philosophical statement, you can’t get much more succinct (or memorable) than that. 

Although they often feature racy subject matter, tee shirt philosophies sometimes espouse a thought so profound that it can…    stop you in your tracks while attempting to decipher it’s true meaning.  While I was at Harvard, I saw a guy walking to his next class wearing a tee shirt that read:

“A cat will blink when struck with a hammer.”

The deeper meaning of that simple statement evades me to this day.

Today’s young people, even with all their new internet, Twitter, and cell phone camera techno-gadgetry, make full use of the time proven tee shirt communication vehicle.  While shopping at the local market last week, I spotted pubescent blond ‘cheer-leader type’ wearing a tee shirt that read:

“A day without sunshine is, like ……… night.”

Bumper stickers have come a long way since the simple ‘happy face’ and ‘baby-on-board’ days.  Some are downright intellectual but can be funny as hell once you ‘get it’.  I still crack up remembering one such bumper sticker that read:

“Dyslexics are teeple po.”

Or the bumper sticker professing deep seeded commitment to a cause:

“Fight Apathy !!  ………. or don’t”

And, perhaps the greatest bumper sticker of all time:

“Honk if I’m Polish.”

The backs of bathroom stall doors are the billboards of the idle street philosopher.  With magic-marker in hand, and five minutes of nature-induced immobility, these deep thinkers and stinkers advocate all manner of off-beat philosophy.  Most are crude sketches of genitalia or time worn potty-porn, but occasionally a cerebral pooper happens by with something worth reading, such as this philosophy I ran across in the bathroom of a local bar:

“I would rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.”

Written directly below this bit of avante-garde poetry, some guy had scripted a response that completed the transition from witty intellectual prose to the platitude of the common man:

“I’m not going to argue with this guy – I need to save my breath to blow up my date for the night.”

In Europe, the billboard advertising industry is given much more latitude in the display of their creativity than here in the U.S. On the highway between London’s Heathrow airport and the center of town, this billboard advertising Viagra only has a subliminal message:

No Explanation Needed

And that’s all I have to say about that.




Leave a Reply

Copyright 2013 - 2009, All Rights Reserved - Powered By Wordpress || Designed By Ridgey