Thursday, May 8, 2008

Constructive Criticism

[The Delusional Community] As I was waiting for Haroon Mohammed to make my hot dog, I noticed the T-shirt worn by a construction laborer in line behind me. (There's been a long line at his cart lately--Haroon's been doing good business now that the weather has started warming up!)

The reason I noticed it was because it was one of those Bob Dobbs-style repurposed commercial illustrations from the 1950s or '60s--they still catch my eye, even though they've been ubiquitous for 15 years or so. The wry caption read, "Silly liberal. Paychecks are for workers!"

It was just wrong on so many levels. First of all, from a design standpoint, it made no sense: The style of illustration mocks establishment, Eisenhower-era conservatism. If you want to mock liberalism, you've got to caricature an aging, out-of-touch academic. (Apparently, actual humor is optional.)

Also, it was the gays who repopularized those designs, pairing them with ironic slogans on greeting cards and coffee mugs in 1970s and '80s-era boutiques lighted with too much neon. Aren't they a little bit too twee to be worn by your typical rough-and-tumble construction worker? What's the next big thing in builderwear: black leather chaps and armbands? (Actually, that might be kinda hot ...)

But I guess what puzzles me most of all is this: How can any working person in this day and age still buy the neocon line that failed trickle-down economic policies somehow benefit people who aren't stockholders and/or CEOs of Fortune 500 companies?

The thing is, those stockholders and CEOs who do benefit also happen to have a lot of talented ad designers and copywriters working for them. They know how to drive that message home. The result? A generation of American workers who vote against their own best economic interests.

I just hope the next time that guy is rubbing himself with his $150 Bush tax cut, he'll think about the CEO who not only gets a million-dollar tax cut but an even larger bonus for doing the good deed of sending 5,000 American jobs overseas. (Brandon Burt)

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