Sunday, April 29, 2007

a whole new U.[S.]


It is like being given a coloring book that your brother already colored in.


Michael Bierut of the New York design firm Pentagram, commenting on the new U.S. Passport design, as quoted in today's New York Times.

The Times reports that the new U.S. passport is a cacophonous assemblage of "American images" and allusions -- eagles, bison, Mt Rushmore, sheaves of wheat. Each page is mucked up with an image -- gone is the wonderful empty grid, the subtle seals of state, the spare running label: Entries/Entrées | Visas | Departures/Sorties.

Now "patriotic" blurbs like these run across the tops of the spread -- this one from esteemed Ich bin ein Berliner JFK spewing what sounds like W crazy talk:
Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

Beirut's subsequent comment nails exactly why it is that something like this is all wrong:
A passport, not unlike a scrapbook, gets its allure from gradually accruing exotic stamps, with the blank pages holding the promise of future adventure.

It's ironic that this new document shouts so loudly about being American, when a passport, as a document, is about getting out of the country -- getting away from My Country Tis of Thee and being transported to a new place that teaches you unexpected things (the way wandering always does) -- about other people, other worlds. About yourself.

Don't tell me who I am. Let me find my own America.

2 comments:

anniemcq said...

Oh man, that just sucks.

Lolabola said...

you know, this is how I feel when the canadian mint came out with a breast cancer coin.

I just can't stand things that are part of everyday life becoming another advertisement for something.

How dare they take the 'canadian' paraphanelia off my coin and tell me what disease I should support and how I should think more about it.

some things should be left alone surely.

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