Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What is Your Least Favorite Bumper Sticker?

Recently a member of the L&TM5K community -- I'll let them choose whether or not they want to jump in here -- wrote about their least favorite bumper sticker. It was this one:

"As a pacifist heritage-language activist anti-nationalist English teacher whose parents taught her to read," our correspondant wrote, "this slogan makes my blood boil."


"Personally," I responded, "I don’t get too upset by that one. I read it as saying 'One of my loved ones is in the military and I’ve read very little history.'”

The one that makes the blood boil in my brain is this one:

I read this as an aggressive fuck-you to any single parent. The presumed target of the message, the young woman who picked the wrong guy and got herself knocked up, shouldn’t have to read that shit. Nor should my sister, a single woman who adopted two beautiful, successful children. Nor should my neighbor, whose children only have one parent because the other one was murdered. I mean, what are people THINKING when they put something that hurtful on their car for all the world to see? Morons.


Now, perhaps you are agreeing with one of us, or both of us, or maybe you think the both of us are crackers. That's fine and good. What's certain, though, is that you have seen a bumper sticker that pushes your buttons!

So let's hear it, gentle readers! What do you consider the most obnoxious bumper sticker out there, and why?


margaret said...

I was cut off by someone with one a those "coexist" stickers.

margaret said...

Also, I forgot to mention that I always hate the "Support our troops" stickers 'cause it seems to be breast- and brow-beating on the par with your first example. My friend slapped a modified version on his bumper, making it look like the T and R are scratched out, so it says: Support our oops. It worked better under the previous administration.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm with you M MMMMMM. The first one just makes me kind of confused. I'm assuming it is along the lines of that whole "Our military is what makes us able to be free" idea. But then it's taken up a notch. Our military is what is stopping Canada from taking us over? Oh wait, they speak English too. Our military is what's stopping Mexico from taking us over?

Rebel said...

A knitting friend of mine took two of those 'kids need both parents' stickers and made it into "Kids need knits!" which is a much nicer sentiment imho.

I wanted to key every car I saw with a "W" or "Bush/Cheney" sticker on it, and feel quite virtuous for not doing so.

Bumper stickers seem to be much more popular in Portland than any other place I've lived BTW. I'm not sure what that means.

fingerstothebone said...

"Bush/cheney" or "W", especially when they're on some giant huge SUV and drive like there's nobody else on the road and they're talking non-stop on their cellphone. Made me want to ram them. (Now it makes me laugh.)

Or the guy who was being very mean to his girlfriend, and has the sticker on his pickup truck that said "Mean People Rule." Made me want to let the air out of his tires. (I should've...)

fingerstothebone said...

Or how about those "Marriage is one man and one woman" things (or whatever it is that they say). I want to ram those too.

Nichim said...

That's me, with the first sticker. I have to say that I almost fell off my chair when my friend, who lives in Boston, said that he assumed it meant that we should blame the military that we aren't all multilingual. I decided if I ever see it on the street that's what I'll assume it means. And part of why I JUST HATE IT seems to be that it is so cocky, so blithe, yet so utterly unclear. Like the bumper sticker maker had some kind of formula that didn't quite work, but they didn't care because they could still sell them to people who are tantalized by being praised for being able to read and enjoined to give a thumbs-up to the military. I hear you, though, on not blaming people for not being very bright. I'll try to cut down.

I also found myself wringing my hands in agitation over those One Man One Woman stickers that were everywhere, notably in the parking lot of the place where I worked. But then I went to a colleague's house and I saw one in marker that her kid had made, with an added "duh!" on the end, and the stickers never even made a dent again, compared to that.

McGuff said...

I always took the "Both Parents" sticker to be a slam at non-involved fathers. Bitchy wife slamming disconnected husband who puts career, schmoozing, boozing and "bidness entertaining" ahead of family. But that might be my guilt showing through.

Libby said...

I am not generally bothered by stickers that support political candidates, but one particular GWB sticker - the one that says, "I stand with President George W. Bush"... Not just I support the guy, but whatever unjust things he wants to do I will blindly support, and prefer them to my own rights and the rights of others. I think bothered me particularly b/c I first saw it right around the time we were finding out about the Patriot Act (and etc.), and I wanted a bumper sticker that said, "I stand with the U.S. Constitution."

Anonymous said...

I always hated that one that says "We've Been to the Santa Cruz Mystery Spot".

I liked the one used in CA ten years or so ago. Eco-activists would surreptitiously plaster it on massive SUVMDs (Sports Utility Vehicles of Mass Destruction). It said "Look What I'm Doing for the Environment".

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know M5000 asked for the most annoying bumper sticker we could think of, but I cant' think of one (other than the one man/one woman one which has already been mentioned). So I am going to list my two favorites--

If men could become pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

If you want to live in a country ruled by religion, move to ________ (insert middle eastern country of choice).

Dug said...

I can only wonder what kids who have a parent that was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan think of bumper sticker number two. According to the anti gay folks my marriage is a sham (yours too) since the only function of marriage is to bear children.
Maybe sticker number one is supposed to mean that while teachers are good at teaching, they're not so hot on English. You need a soldier to teach you that.

Anonymous said...

The one I hate the most:

My Wife, Yes. My Dog, Maybe. My Gun, NEVER.

Bridget said...

katenben: of course - only your gun is protected by the constitution!

The "kids need both parents" and "One man, one woman" bumper stickers both deeply annoy me. That kind of narrow definition of love and family is just, well, pretty damn un-American in my view.

As for Portland having high bumper sticker content, my experience in driving across the country is that the number of bumper stickers increases as you get closer to California. Maine, not so big on the bumper stickers. My truck, well, it looks like bumper stickers are all that's holding it together.

My favorite bumper sticker of all time? "Frodo failed. Bush has the ring."

Kritkrat said...

You absolutely have to watch this video about the support the troops stickers. Seriously. Watch it.


Yankee in England said...

"Jesus {hearts} you" I Really want to get one that says Satan {hearts} you. Don't know why it bothers me that the big J Loves me?

DrSchnell said...

How 'bout "Guns, God, Guts/Three that Make Us Free" ? I think it's the matter of who gets top billing here that annoys me more than the more general militaristic/Jesoid nature of it.

In a different vein, I've always hated the "My child is an honors student at _________School." Well-meaning, yes, unlike these other stickers. So they don't make my blood boil. But I suspect that anybody over the age of, say, 10 whose parents sported one of these on the family minivan would slump down in their seat in the hopes that nobody noticed them. But then again, maybe that's just indicative of the general anti-intellectualism of American culture, which I of course abhor. I probably shouldn't like the "My child beats up your honors student." But I admit it, I do, despite the fact that it reaffirms the aforementioned anti-intellectualism blah blah blah.

My current batch of stickers - I've rarely had any stickers on until very recently. I do still have one of those Obama Hope stickers, as well as a "No Farms/No Food" sticker. (I haven't been able to find a copy of an even better one, "No Farms/No Beer". Anyway, I digress. . .

There's a great piece about bumper stickers in Fourth Genre called
"My Volvo, My Self: The (Largely Unintended) Existential Implications of Bumper Stickers" -- I'm sending a copy to M5K, and if you're nice to him, perhaps he can forward it to you, if'n you're interested.

Anonymous said...

The first one has far too many words on it for a bumper sticker--and yet, when you get through it, you still don't know what it means. On top of being ridiculous, it is also going to cause car accidents as people remove their hand from the steering wheel to scratch their head in confusion--not to mention the time they must look away from the road in order to read the damn thing.

The second one, yes, is offensive. People like me, whose father died at a tragically young age, do not appreciate reading that "children [heart] need both parents." When I see those bumper stickers I generally drop the F bomb in the driver's direction.

My least favorite bumper stickers are the obnoxious god-related ones. The ones that say things like, "Jesus is my savior--who's yours?"

Also, anything against reproductive rights.

Basically, any bumper stickers that don't 100% align with my point of view make my blood curdle.

Anonymous said...

Both of those are pretty off putting to me. I take the first one as you do and don't count on the driver to have read and understood the traffic laws either. The second one is absolutely unthinking and cruel.

Here I laugh at some. "Kill it and grill it." Any cartoon character peeing on anything. Not because they are funny but because I always wished some people had signs on them so I would know who to avoid and these people do that for me.

There are so many offensive bumper stickers here that it is very difficult to pinpoint which ones are the worst in terms of setting a negative traffic tone. If it is not religious or political, the sticker is usually some radio promo. There are many give aways here that require people to have the bumper sticker and be spotted in traffic in order to win a prize. One of the worst of those is WOW or "Wipe 'em Out Wednesdays" meant to encourage people to expose themselves.


jovaliquilts said...

So many to choose from! I dislike all bumper stickers from religious or exclusive organizations. And there are all those "My child is an honor roll student at XXX School" -- how obnoxious. I guess the very worst are those that negatively target certain groups, like anti-gay stickers. Mostly I don't understand why people would put something on their car that would hurt or anger someone driving right behind them. I bet not all fender benders are accidents.
Whew, that felt good! Guess I'm venting on a public blog instead of on my car.

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the "both parents" sticker and hope I don't--I'll simply echo Bro5000's comments on this. Makes me want to focus instead on my favorite bumper sticker of all time, though. It was on a car parked in the McKay's parking lot back home, a '70s-era lavender Cadillac. It said, "God Bless John Wayne."

Michael5000 said...

So we're downtown tonight, and we park in our magic secret free parking space, and there's a "Kids Need Both Parents" sticker stuck to the street sign right there by our spot. Aaargh!

Anyway, excellent nominations all, you liberal freaks! Seriously, I need to build my numbers in the Southern states or something. I'm lacking universal appeal!

@fingers: I always wanted to get a deck of those "one man/one woman" stickers and alter them so they said "marriage is one man/one woman; one man/one man; one woman/one woman; one woman/one man," but I didn't feel like I had enough bumper. I saw one car where someone had altered some of them to read "one man/one woman/one woman/one woman/sexy," which made me laugh.

@Phineas: I think the outfit that makes the "both parents" bumperstickers is actually anti-divorce. Kind of a pro-unhappy marriage sort of deal, I guess.

@Dug: Once you've had a Sergeant right up in your face about comma splicing, you know your rules of English style after that.

@Kate: It's a basic rule of gun safety that you should never make out with it. But "My Dog, Maybe?" That's no way to relate to your pets.

@Kadonk: I'm on it once I'm done with this comment.

@Yankee: I have to admit some fondness for "My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter," though.

@Boo: I get the one with Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) praying before a cross and Calvin peeing on stuff mixed up in my head, and sometimes mistakenly think I've seen a bumper sticker of Calvin peeing on the cross. That would certainly shake things up. I think it would offend even me.

@sis: Still getting used to having you read this, but I guess billing Nieces #s 3 & 4 as "beautiful, successful children" isn't going to get me in too much trouble. I did leave out how they are insufferable little punks.

My own favorite bumper sticker is, for some reason, "Crossbows don't kill people -- quarrels kill people." Cracks me up.

Anonymous said...

1 "keep edinburgh tidy, throw your rubbish in england"

2 "in case of rapture, this vehicle will be unoccupied"

contrasting ways to distinguish oneself from one's countrymen with humour (1) or ...humor?!?? (2).

Dan Nolan said...

My reaction to the first one was "If you can't read this, thank our crappy graphic designer for a visually challenging layout".

But that's just me being "design catty".

MulchMaid said...

MY all-time favorite bumper sticker:
Rainbow-colored background design with one word on it: "Yup."

Karin said...

I always took the "One Man, One Woman" "A Child Needs Both Parents" to be anti-gay sentiments as they crop up around certain pro-gay marriage ballot measures.

I saw a magnetic ribbon the other day that read, "Support the Magnetic Ribbon Industry", which cracks. me. up.

The Calico Cat said...

I'm late again (but returning to work on Monday - so I should be able to catch up...)

I always hate the "He's a child, not a choice." Because, they haven't adopted all (any) of the kids in Foster care that are eligible. Any handicapped kids. Etc. Not to mention the kids (in conventional family units) who are abused...

The baby's crying - so much for catching up....

gl. said...

wow, active thread!

"kids need both parents" really makes me grit my teeth. as an abused child, i stongly disagree: i'd much rather have the one parent who -doesn't- abuse me, thanks.

i lived in a sea of "one man, one woman" stickers & signs in eastern portland. it was so disheartening.

but one of my least favorite bumper stickers is "abortion stops a beating heart" -- in part because i doubt very few of the people with those stickers are vegetarians or pacifists. i suspect they are quite capable of stopping a beating heart if they feel justified.

maddaddyssa said...

I wanted to key every car I saw with a "W" or "Bush/Cheney" sticker on it, and feel quite virtuous for not doing so.

You should feel quite ALIVE and able to breathe on your own for using such restraint. Ah, tolerance! So, how's that hopey changey think working? Can't blame Bushy boy forever, ya know.

Michael5000 said...

maddaddy: Interesting to get a new comment on such an old post. It raises an interesting question, though: how long will we be able to blame Bushy boy? Quite a long time, I think. Indeed, it requires little stretch to blame many of the current ills of our country -- its budgetary and foreign policy woes, I'm thinking of here -- on the Reagan administration, an outfit that looks positively competent compared to the bumbling freakshow that was the second Bush Administration.

As for the hopey changey thing, I count it as something of a success that that the Obama administration has for the time being at least been very successful in arresting the slide towards wholesale economic collapse so blandly initiated by his predecessor. Do you not?

The L&TM5K does not condone the keying of cars for the opinions expressed thereon. Cars should only be keyed in the pursuance of purely personal grudges.