I never really thought much about the inspirational comic strip Love is… until, while I was living in London a few years back, they utilized the characters to try and help enforce the rules of the Tube. I remember being really creeped out by the campaign. Here were a bunch of happy little cartoon love babies (or something), who seemed the archetype for trite romantic optimism, now being shown in various states of annoyance at other happy little cartoon love babies’ ineptness at following the etiquette rules of the state.
In case you are unfamiliar, here are some typical Love is… cartoons/messages:
Harmless, vaguely uplifting or nauseating, depending on your level of cynicism.
Mine of course is rather high.
Now, here are some of the cartoons used in the Tube campaign, thanks to Flickr user Maurizio Pillitu, who posted many of these:
Doesn’t that kinda creep you out a bit? I mean, I don’t think I had ever seen these cartoon love babies ever unhappy, let alone pissed off. Are we to assume that the cartoon love babies are at peace with the world through their mediocre expressions of love, yet the one thing that can vault them from their vapid bliss is another cartoon love baby eating a sandwich?
I’m sorry, but if I’m hungry and I gotta get somewhere, I’m eating my Subway Club with extra black olives, and no bad-vibin’ love baby is gonna peer-pressure me into waiting. Besides, that six-inch miracle is going to sustain me in ways that their dull expressions of love never could.
So this brings us to now. While doing some research into clichéd inspirationalism, which is often my wont, I came across the Love is… archive. I casually looked through the strips for some strange or odd expressions of what “Love is…” and I came across a surprising amount of environmental propaganda.
Now, while I generally agree with the environmental movement, the recent global warming scare is definitely a cause célébre. I don’t refute global warming but it has become an article of faith, something that is not to be questioned. Whenever anything reaches this point, it must be scrutinized.
It would be one thing if it was Love is… caring for your environment; or Love is… planting a tree; but check some of this shit out:
Ick. I think it’s tacky. Ok, so it’s not ELF, but it gives me the same feeling as the Tube posters. It feels maternal, the Tube posters and these “eco-friendly” ones are both telling you how to live, as if it is a responsibility to shop at Fair Trade stores and drive wind buggies instead of 4x4s, matters that are debatable in their effectiveness.
While I agree that Fair Trade is, for the most part, a good thing, there are significant debates about whether much of it is doing more harm than good. As far as the SUV debate goes, it is pure bullshit. Sorry. SUVs aren’t making the environment worse, vehicles are making the environment worse. People are making the environment worse. Getting a hybrid or a, what was it, wind buggy will never offset the millions of your neighbors who drive normal, gas-guzzling cars.
If one person is going to make a difference, it’s going to be the badass scientist that figures out some way to get us out of this mess. I mean, we’re getting super-vision!! They gotta be inventing a massive carbon dioxide vacuum or some shit.
To be honest though, I’m kind of a nihilist about the matter. Love is… propaganda bothers me more than the possibly impending apocalypse. Maybe we are fucked. But maybe we should spend our last remaining days on earth appreciating the good things in life, rather than judging our neighbors for not buying Fair Trade or for driving SUVs.
I try to live like that in life, like the world could explode at any moment, but goddamn my non-fair trade Subway Club, my jalapeno kettle-cooked Lays, and my medium cherry coke tastes like it was prepared by Jesus himself.
Then I don’t care so much about how other people should live their life.
Ya know what? Maybe Love is… ain’t actually so bad. I mean it’s a bunch of narrow-minded hogcrap scrawling its soul-obliteratingly mundane message to people who need their daily dose of banality along with their fair trade hazel-nut coffee and kale-flavored soy eggs, but, ya know, maybe it ain’t so bad.
I mean, it featured this surprisingly suggestive strip: