Stickers Rear-Ended ~ BitterSweetLife

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Stickers Rear-Ended

I have the feeling that some readers may have freaked slightly over my previous post concerning physical dysfunction and hopeful DNA, and if that was the case, you can relax. We turn now to a more frivolous subject.

Not that it shouldn’t be taken seriously. In fact, I’ve been intending to write something about this issue for awhile. Think of it as societal malaise, a cultural hangnail. It’s irritating now, and it could get worse. And someone close to you probably has it.

I call it Bumper Sticker Folly.

For reasons that are really inexplicable, people are stirred with a longing to “personalize” their vehicles with rectangular pieces of sticky paper called Bumper Stickers. And these stickers have to say something.

If the 19th century gave rise to armchair strategists, the 20th has given a similarly dubious endowment: the sticker philosopher. The idea is, I have an opinion so profound that it must be affixed to the rear of my car. Unfortunately, the chances are good that if you trimmed your idea down to sticker size, important details have been omitted.

The idea that we can make meaningful pronouncements about crucial cultural issues in the space of a sentence (usually less) strikes me as symptomatic of a society headed toward pure prescriptivism. And the slogans I’m reading aren’t exactly excerpts from the Nicene Creed. The Declaration of Independence isn’t showing up much either.

Perhaps the question we’re begging is, What types of statements are best made via bumper stickers? Allow me to make some suggestions.

Ideal: My Team (KU, Honda, etc.) Rocks

Good: Your Team (MU, Chevrolet, etc.) Sucks

Acceptable: I Love Poodles; My Kids Are Geniuses; I’d Rather Be Spelunking—and other mild PDAs

Not exactly ground-breaking truths, if you follow. Which leads me to some gripes I have specifically with “Christian” bumper stickers. Popular culture has its own storied history of BSF, but my own camp gets priority in the skewering line. Here are my gripes:

1) The message so woefully undeveloped that it borders on unintentional caricature.

Example: God is my copilot.

2) The idea is well-intentioned, but too profound to be dealt with on back-bumper real estate.
Example: Know peace, know God. No peace, no God.

And some are just stupid.
Example: Who would Jesus bomb?

I guess I’m writing this as a general advisory: if you have a meaningful message to communicate, one with nuanced truth content, one that is vital, choose your means carefully.

Most of the “Christian” bumper stickers I see make me want to side with the incredulous pagan who pastes up a sticker reading, Dog is my copilot. Now there’s a content level I can live with.

Filed in:

Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.


Andrew Simone said...

"God or Democrate, you can only choose one"

I saw the above bumper sticker the other day and it made my blood boil. It has nothing to do with the party allegience but just the sentiment in general. It causes dissent and hatred for the church for the wrong reasons. If I am to be persucuted as Scripture says, let it be for the right not the wrong ones.

Andy said...

True Christian faith, ironically, should appeal to those with a more liberal political mindest, as often it is those folks who are working with the poor, the homeless, the disenfranchised - and of course it was Jesus Himself who reached out to those people and developed a relationship with them.

It's sad that those who are in the conservative political column are the same ones who seem to miss that message, instead using a checklist approach to faith and telling you what you can't do rather than reaching out and showing love.

J said...

Good comments, Ariel. Christian bumper stickers might do a little something to affirm other Christians, but they so trivialize Christianity in the mind of non-Christians that I can't see the justification for sticking them up.

gymbrall said...

This is great. Now I can sum up anything:

The book of Proverbs:
Wisdom is a woman
or just
Wisdom IS!

The Old Testament:
The 10 Commandments: Take two tablets and call me when you've got them down.
Peleg: The first mover and shaker

The book of Revelation:
Death's other horse is pale too
Being lukewarm blows chunks

The sermon on the mount:
Got savour?
[Insert place name] is my candlestick

Coming soon to the back of a car near you!!!

Ariel said...

I have to duck back into this post, just long enough to say that it' very ironic that all my text adds have been hawking bumper stickers the last few days...poetic justice or something.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife