A sign that our lives have been intruded uponDriving around over the weekend brought me to the conclusion that we’re a nation of signs. Road signs in particular.
By: Forrest Johnson, Lake County News Chronicle
Driving around over the weekend brought me to the conclusion that we’re a nation of signs.
Road signs in particular.
The days of a guy going out with a bucket of paint and an idea for a sign are long gone along our highways. The industrial age has created a booming sign industry that lives along the interstates and major routes, sending their marketing messages skyward.
You can’t simply turn off the TV to get away from brash advertising anymore. A sign the size of a football field will grab your eye with no problem.
Being the anachronist that I am, I wish we could go back to the Burma Shave signs that pulled you along the roadway with their messages. Then again, perhaps the Burma Shave signs helped start the evolution in signage that grew to the monstrous proportions we have today.
In other words, the bigger, the better.
There are a host of issues that beg our attention rather than write a piece about signs. I understand that. Hey, I’m the first one to admit that I don’t live out there on the road itself and could care less about what people decide to put on their properties that exist along the roadways of America. I’m not quite sure how to deal with new terms like “visual pollution.”
But I also see something that’s endemic about our society when we continue to clutter our lives with messages to buy, sell, or trade in places that can’t be escaped by a set of eyes. We all bemoan the need to be free of the clutter of our lives, all agree that our society places undue stress on all of us at an Indy 500 pace.
Don’t get me wrong. The business of business is business. Advertising is an essential part of business. The newspaper survives with advertising.
However, I see a big difference between the placement of an ad in a newspaper and the placement of an ad the size of a house out along the highway.
Don’t get me started on television advertising or the advertising that exists beyond the time slot in the form of those little goodies that are attached to current movies or the junk you get in fast food meals. It appears such franchises don’t sell food, they fill the belly and market an idea. Free cups, hats, knick knacks that the little kids put in their mouths, you name it, they’re selling it.
I guess the biggest part of the conundrum for me is how long it will take before people finally do decide that certain intrusions into their lives won’t be tolerated any longer.
I see a subtle connection between brassy signage, loud television commercials and never sleeps internet access. The connection is that so much stuff never envisioned in the Bill of Rights finds the protection needed to be a pain in the butt to many others. Turning off the TV doesn’t allow you to escape anymore. You can’t turn off all the messages that are sent at society and its children. There are simply too many.
Not long ago I read that there aren’t any more killings on television today than there were in the good old days of Rawhide or Gunsmoke. Perhaps not. But I’ve noticed a not-so-subtle difference. When a cowpoke or a bank robber got shot in the old days he’d always grab at his belly, drop to one knee and die a respectable death with no blood. Even the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre was played out on the movie screen against the backdrop of a shadowy wall as the gangsters were mowed down. There was no blood. Shadows have no blood.
Not true nowadays.
I understand there is no respectable death. There is, however, a line that is crossed when tolerance of all those intrusions is accepted by society with a shrug of the shoulder and a “What can you do about it” attitude.
There is more to a sign than you might think.