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The study of bumper stickers

I enjoy the philosophical advertising on the back of the countless cars that have driven in front of me for all the years that I have been a licensed road-smith.

Bumper stickers are so clever sometimes. No Jesus, No Peace. Know Jesus, Know Peace. Total crap as far as I am concerned, but clever. The endless war of the Jesus fish (the line in the sand story for all you Bible thumpers), which suddenly grows legs and has Darwin’s name in the middle, but more recently, a larger Jesus fish with teeth eating the Darwin fish. Totally messed up, but symbol re-appropriation at it’s best.

This sticker caught my attention the other day. It clearly advertises that God is not Republican or Democrat in terms of “his” political views. I sat behind this person waiting to turn left onto Baseline Road and it gave me time to think. I thought, maybe I will get a “God is not a Republican, he’s a Whig” bumper sticker, just to be different. But then I remembered that I don’t believe in any particular sort of god, so it would be lying. I may not be godly, but I certainly am not a liar.

Then I thought more about it and wondered what kind of person this was in front of me. What was this bumper sticker saying about this person? Was this person religious? Probably. Was this person on the left, right, or in the middle of the political spectrum? Not sure. Was this person educated or not? No clue. I don’t remember what kind of car it was, so I couldn’t even make a guess as to the level of affluence. It’s all very interesting.

Political bumper stickers pretty much piss me off. Neither side is really that clever. With every new president comes the same bumper sticker messages: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Mondale”. “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Kerry.” Are these really better than the alternative? There is clearly no way to prove that the person who did not (or who actually DID get elected, as it were) would have been any better than the douchebag in office now. What’s the point? We all have to live with it all the same, so why point fingers and fight about what might have been. I have always thought less of people who advertise via rear bumper that they, in fact, voted for the loser.

Hang up and drive. Now that’s something I agree with, in part. The funny thing is, those are stickers that usually appear on the bumpers of the kind of people who are just now starting to think that “Who Let the Dogs Out” is cutting edge hip-hop music. These are the ones who never had a cell phone until recently because they refused to get on board the cell phone craze like all the other “damn liberal yuppies” until they realized that it is an essential piece of communicating technology that everyone should have. Before they had the phone, they sat in the glass house pointing fingers at cell phone talking drivers because they either didn’t have a cell phone or if they did, nobody called them. Easy to not talk on the phone while you are driving if you don’t have one.

But when they finally get the cell phone, they are the worst offenders. I have seen someone driving (swerving) over the lines like a drunk, talking on the phone, WITH THAT STICKER ON THE BACK OF THE TRUCK. Yes. Hippocrite. Asshole.

That sticker was made for a certain type of driver — usually about 23 years old, female, hot, driving a small import car with 14,000 beaded necklaces hanging from the rear-view, and completely oblivious to the driving public around her. She has a cigarette in one hand, her elbow propped up on the door so the cig hangs ever so slightly out the window, seat moved up so close to the wheel that she can use her chin to steer, knee on the wheel, and phone in her right hand. Good thing daddy got her an automatic. These are usually the ones who cut people off, tailgate, or just plain are wreckless, like the rest of the Earth is revolving around her. But whatever, at least she’s hot, right?

So, bumper stickers. I will start a gallery of stickers that I like, that I hate, that provoke me in some way, or that are actually funny. I actually aspire to be a bumper sticker author and perhaps I will start trying a few out on the site over time. Years ago I realized that only the truly brilliant can generate deep philosophical ideas that can be stated in so few words and such readable fonts.

You can really tell a lot about someone just by the bumper advertising they do. You can tell what degree of redneck they are by the combination of the kid peeing on one brand of truck or another, the NASCAR driver number they sport, the complete Dale Earnhardt tribute, the number of support-the-troops stickers, cheesy American slogans, “My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student”, and W in 04 stickers. I enjoy these stickers most because they almost always indicate that the driver is sporting a classic MULLET hairdo — from the old Tennessee Tophat to the Kentucky Waterfall, the ’87 Camaro Mullet to the ’87 IROC Z-28 Camaro Mullet (it’s faster than the regular Camaro Mullet), from the classic “7” to the Barry Melrose hockey helmet flowing locks mullet. Mullet sightings are indeed priceless.

Actually, the people who advertise religious and political messages are usually the ones most likely to piss me off while driving. One good thing is that it helps me target the type of profane name I will use as I pass them. I think people open themselves up to harsh criticism with their backend advertisements. As a rule, I do not place bumper stickers on my cars. Wit the exception of my small Sig Ep letters in the corner of my rear window of my old car, I never advertised via my car.

Part of that stems back to my father going ape-shit (and rightfully so) when I attempted to place a bumper sticker on the back of our 1973 Javelin’s chrome bumper. I recall that my mom had won a radio contest and received the radio station schwag, including a bumper sticker for “Morgan in the Morning” – the show from which she won whatever contest. So I slapped that puppy on the back of the Javelin and when my mom saw it, she threw out the old “Dad’s gonna kill you,” and sure enough. Well, within an inch of my life at least, and I had to watch him try to remove it from a polished chrome bumper. It wasn’t pretty.

Since that beating, I don’t do bumper stickers. I think they are tacky on cars, so I pin them up in my office or stick them on the side of my computer. The other reason I do that is so people can read them and comment to me directly. On the back of cars, you can’t really strike up a conversation with the person in order to determine just how far up the dipshit chain they really are. At least when I put one on the corkboard at the office, I can count on good conversation as a result.

I guess if I want to be a well known bumper sticker author/philosopher, I should start coming up with some material. But that will have to wait for another blog entry.

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • El Gammy April 28, 2006, 3:02 pm

    This one is probably better on a shirt (like I mentioned during lunch today), but I don’t see a problem with it crossing over into a bumper sticker:

    “Guns don’t kill people, dangerous minorities do.”

    Of course, the person with the balls or stupidity to put this on their vehicle risks their tires being slashed, windows broken into, or maybe even ran off the road by some dangerous minority.

    Its funny because if the offending party (a person of minority descent) does something like that, they will be embodying the stereotype. There are so many philosophical quandries involved with such a bumper sticker. The guy who puts the sticker on his car must first consider the risks, and the person doing harm onto the car (assuming a healthy conscious) considers proving the bumper sticker correct.

    Great stuff all around.

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