Flag Friday is a periodic discussion of the world's national flags; the project is explained and indexed here.
These discussions are about graphic design, and perhaps about nationalism and national symbolism in general. They should not be taken as critical of the countries, ideals, cultures, or people that the flags represent.
Parsons: "Name of country written on the flag," writes Parsons. "Perhaps they have the excuse that their citizens can't remember the difference between Paraguay and Uruguay either." Disliking "Writing," a "Bad Shape," and that it is "Too busy," he pounds it with a "D", 40/100.
Michael5000: It's got a concentrated burst of too-busyness, all right, and the writing is part of that. I'm a little mystified by the "bad shape," since we've basically got a flag-shaped flag here, but whatevs. Parsons overlooks the real problem, anyway, which is that Paraguay has a two-sided flag, which to my way of thinking is barely a flag at all. The whole point of a flag, after all, is to represent your political entity with a simple, recognizable graphic devise. Trying to sneak a second graphic device in through the back door is either a confession that you didn't get it right the first time or that you developed your design through the committee process.
And also, as we in the Beaver State know from long, painful experience, a flag with two different central devices, when flown in sunlight, is just a flag with a big smudge in the center.
See what I'm sayin'?
Parsons: It's a "Bad Tricolour," which Parsons clearly doesn't like. Also, it's "Simple," which I've never figured out whether it's supposed to be a good thing or a bad thing. He gives it a "B-", 65/100.
Michael5000: I've been taken to task for calling two-color, um, tricolors "tricolors." I can see the logic of that, and so apparently can the people of Peru, who call their civil flag El Pendón Bicolor. It's simple, yet distinctive, and in the flag business "simple" + "distinctive" pretty much = "good." Would a child want to draw it? Hell, a child could go ahead and sew it, and leave the local Betsy Ross to make her way in the lucrative hand-sewn cummerbund trade, or whatever.
As we have often seen in Latin America, there is a gussied-up state flag of Peru as well. It has the usual unfortunately fussy crest-and-shield business, but it must be said that the broad white center stripe is at least a nice setting for the frimframmery.
You know what would be confusing? Being a colorblind fan at a Nigeria-Peru soccer match, that's what.
Grade (for the civil flag): A-
Parsons: It has "Too Many Stars," which lands it with a "C," 55/100.
Michael5000: The flag of the Phillipines has gone through a number of alterations over the decades, but never very extreme alterations. Generally, it's been just a matter of tinkering with the shades, which means that the current flag traces its lineage directly back to the first of its type, sewn by one Marcela Marino de Agoncillo and her daughter. That's right -- I've made many references in this series to "the local Betsy Ross," but this is the first time I've managed to bump into her name.
Too many stars? Four? Well, it's certainly not too few stars, I suppose. And the old-gold on white contrast lacks a certain visual something. I dunno. I'm ambivalent about almost every aspect of the Phillipine flag, including that you're supposed to fly it upside down during times of war. That seems like a clever design feature, but I kind of hate to think that times of war are such an expected thing that you plan ahead for them, like a picnic or something.
Parsons: It's "Simple," again, and it gets a "B", 70/100. Maybe "simple" is neutral.
Michael5000: So Poland's flag is pretty much the same as Indonesia's/Monaco's, except upside-down and with a 5:8 ratio. Unless you are representing Poland abroad, in which case you get to add the crest, which is fussy but with a bit of bad-ass Eastern European flair:
But that's a very specific variant, and the simpler version is the accepted flag. I better make sure I give it the same grade that Indonesia and Monaco got.
Parsons: Dr. Parsons is not a fan. "Portugal forced this uninspired effort on their territories, too," he says, calling it too busy and slapping it with a "D", 40/100.
Michael5000: Winner of the 2008 L&TM5K award for Best Flag (Classic).
At the time, I wrote:
This is a limited-entry category, as it requires the nation in question to have a centuries-long relationship with the practice of heraldry. Here, the issue is not so much design sense as projecting a vision of your country's sheer accumulated authority, the cred that comes with merely having been around the block several hundred times. Portugal's shield figure is dismissed by some as fussy, but it is set off magnificently by generous rectangles of rich green and red. The most identifying feature of the flag, that shield is the central focus. It's right there in your face, all but daring you to call it old-fashioned. That ain't old-fashioned. That's classic.Unfortunately, the Portuguese state has never officially accepted the honor thus conferred upon its flag. I am however an honest blogger, and do not let a snub interfere with the honest reporting of my aesthetic judgement.