Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Bumper stickers: a new age of political advertisement

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The American bumper sticker has undergone a major “glow-up” in the last 30 years. A political glow-up, that is.

The modern bumper sticker has gone through more fashion trends than the Kardashians. From life mottos, to declarations of love for one’s pets, to coexisting, to “Obama ’08,” the bumper sticker has had many different variations.

What is the purpose of the bumper sticker? Is it an appendage of our personalities? Is it our signature calling card?

For years, suburban moms have been detailing their minivans with: My child is an honor student at [INSERT SCHOOL]. All of us have seen it. All of us can’t un-see it.

While some bumper stickers display underwhelming declarations of a child’s merit, some display controversial political messages.

Political messages branded on sticky pieces of plastic, in all different shapes and sizes, have been becoming more and more frequent. The modern bumper sticker has been paraded around the roads of America with the hopes of influencing fellow drivers. This is an important form of advertisement, a political form of advertisement.

The history of the bumper sticker could fill encyclopedias. There could be classes taught on the long, complex history of the bumper sticker and its ever-changing purpose.

According to a published piece in 2016, inAtlantic Magazine,” “the stickers were used for marketing of another kind: vacation spots.” Volumes could be written on the decisive reasons Americans all around the country slap a family of stick figures on their windshields and call it a day.

Yet, the frequency of stickered political messages sprawled on the backs of cars should be noted.

With a divided country, these political messages are becoming a popular form of expression. Yet, is this form of expression good or bad?

It is hard to say. There have been incidents of vandalizing and violence over bumper stickers. The act of showcasing a contested belief definitely has the ability to incite violence. On the other hand, bumper stickers have had the power to spread ideologies from county to county, from city to city and from state to state.

This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to visit family in Alton, New Hampshire, neighboring the scenic Lake Winnipesaukee. During my stay, I observed many hostile bumper stickers I’ve never seen before. One of the bumper stickers that ingrained itself into my head was the bumper sticker, “Black rifles matter.”

Contemplating the social statement of this sticker, all I could ask myself was: how spreadable is this type of message?

After driving a couple miles down NH-11, I realized: very, very spreadable.

Miranda Donohue is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

1 Comment

One Response to “Bumper stickers: a new age of political advertisement”

  1. Nitzakhon on September 28th, 2017 9:39 am

    Poor snowflake, exposed to thoughts of people who don’t toe the PC line.

    Get back to your pillow fort, milk, and cookies…

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