I recently read an article on Cracked.com on memes that existed before the internets. I was basically just effing around online when I stumbled across it and it turned out to be gold. Pure gold, Jerry.
It’s auric qualities were due to the fact that it answered a question that puzzled me during my high school years and I had since forgotten about: “What was the deal with the Andre the Giant ‘Obey’ graphic?”
It was everywhere in high school – on stop signs, buildings, skateboards, etc. The only thing I was told about it was that it was Andre the Giant and it was a skater thing. Turns out there’s a lot more to the story. From Cracked.com:
In 1989, two students at the Rhode Island School of Design named Shepard Fairey and Ryan Lesser created the [original version of the] image while practicing stenciling techniques, and just started sticking it all over Rhode Island, presumably because the nightlife there was really lacking.
Some jerk lawyers who noted that the name “Andre the Giant” was trademarked, Fairey and Lesser removed the name and added the “Obey” text.
If the name Shepard Fairey doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you may be aware of another design of his that kinda went viral.
Reading the article made me think of the pre-internet sharing of info and how amazing it is that we can access the collective knowledge and wisdom of our species so easily and quickly. Proving my point, I was then sidetracked to reading Wikipedia articles on the Ostrogoths, Visigoths and the Vandals.
This reminded of me something else I read months ago that made me laugh. From Deadspin.com:
“I live in Seattle, so most of the people are, like me, transplants from somewhere else. Was talking at the bar the other night with a bunch of my buddies and someone brought up the subject of the great game that was Smear the Queer. They were right – it was a great game. I am really astonished I made it through childhood playing games that were basically an excuse for 5 guys to beat the crap out of the moron who happened to be carrying the ball.
However, almost everyone at the table was from different parts of the country. Yet even though they grew up separated by thousands of miles, with no internet to transmit the rules or, more importantly, the name of the game, everyone knew exactly what we were talking about.”
How the fuck does that happen?
As a coincidence, I got a call this week from my sister-in-law, which went something like this:
HER: Hey Drew, you’re a big football fan, right?
HER: Okay, I was wondering if you could settle something for me. (My wife’s brother) told me that, when he was a kid, he played some horrible game called… Smear the Queer? Is that a real game? I bet him that he was making it all up.
ME: No, that’s a real game. The guy with the ball is the queer, and you try and kick his ass.
HER: That’s horrible.
ME: Yeah well, what are you gonna do. Pony up to your hubby, girlfriend.
Now, my brother-in-law grew up in Maryland. I played STQ when my family lived in Chicago when I was about 5 or so. So there’s two places the game was played. It is amazing, when you think about it. It shows you just how prevalent homophobia is amongst violent kindergarteners. Who knew?
Still haven’t finished reading about the people who caused the downfall of the Roman Empire and their post-sacking of Rome lives, but hopefully it’ll yield a post.