The Obsession with Bumper Stickers

Bumper-Sticker-Charlottesville-VA-stick-figure-familyBumper stickers: simple adhesive strips that can be easily attached to any car and enable people to express their opinions on a variety of topics, from religion to politics to sports in just a few sentences.

These days we can determine whether someone loves or hates President Obama, whether someone's child is an honor student, or whether someone else believes their dog is smarter than that honor student. But where did this simple invention get its start? How did something this simple rise to such prominence?

An article from the University of Kansas' website features an interview with Whitney Baker, the associate librarian at the university's libraries. "It's generally accepted that they were developed in the late '40s and early '50s," she said. "Most people attribute the creation of the bumper sticker to a man named Forest P. Gill, who was a screen printer from Kansas City, KS. So I think we can claim the bumper sticker as a Kansas invention."

Through the years, bumper stickers have become much more commonplace in popular culture. They can make us laugh, make us think, make us angry, or make us wonder what the person in front of us was thinking when they put that sticker on his/her car.

These simple strips of vinyl have also spawned several new trends in automotive decals. I think the chief of all bumper stickers has to be the stick figure family.

Today, these stick figures seem almost as ubiquitous as the traditional bumper stickers that helped create them. They also come in a wide variety of different styles; from just plain figures, to ones that have each family member's name or favorite hobby under their respective figure.

There are also stickers where each family member is wearing a pair of Mickey Mouse ears or the cap and jersey of their favorite sports team. I've even seen a "Star Wars" family, where each member wears a white storm trooper helmet.

There are many people who get a kick out of seeing them and view these redundant stickers as cute and fun, which is no doubt why they are so popular.

However, there is also a group of people who look at these decals from the other side of the fence. Their view is best summed up by another sticker I've seen that said, "Nobody cares about your stick figure family," with a picture of an adhesive family running from a monster truck. I laughed out loud.

Cute and funny as they may be, some of us really don't care if mom likes to shop, if little Bobby plays soccer, if your family has been to Disney World, or if you have a pet. All of that stuff is great, but why stick your family and your pets on the rear window of your car to advertise it?

There is a family up the street from me with a set of these popular stickers. They have so many children, the family runs just about the length of the rear window. I'm sorry but that is just excessive.

These families essentially do what a traditional bumper sticker would do with a catchy slogan or a cool graphic, except the stick figures are cuter of course.

Cute as they may be, there are some of us, including myself, who find them somewhat annoying and feel that people should stick with traditional stickers rather than stick figures.

PHOTO TAKEN from auctiva.com