Friday, June 17, 2005

Shorter James G. Poulos at the right-wing site Citizen Journal:

The moral well-being of our children is being endangered by wacky typography.

I wish I could tell you I'm making that up, but I'm not:

...The still-accelerating decision by, say, restaurants -- fast-food restaurants particularly, but now, increasingly, sit-down joints as well -- to print their children’s menus or their titles ("Kidz Only," etc.) in "kid-like," zany fonts reflects a conscious and ultimately business-based determination that the presentation of products for children will be more profitable if that presentation is anchored by visual cues that communicate certain characteristics or psychologies.

... Inescapably tied up in the business judgment that children will be more likely to buy (or will be more successful in pestering their parents to buy) products marketed with zany or deliberately outrageous fonts (or misspellings) is a broader, psychologically informed norm that says children ought to be or are inherently zany and deliberately outrageous....

... one can see that the new norm, conveyed by the font-choice version of "coloring outside the lines," has been permitted -- and encouraged -- to extend itself into the actual physical behavior of the children themselves. Regularly, predictably, we are treated to the invasive spectacle of unmanaged children running rampant throughout indoor public places, ducking in and out of clothing racks, rolling about on the floor, and generally causing the low-grade sort of mayhem that makes most shopping centers crass and intolerable places to stroll through....

... a concerted effort to communicate dignity, restraint, and nobility to children and their parents through the use of artful, disciplined fonts in the promotion of children's products would at least make a dent in an otherwise unfettered popular culture of fashionable disobedience and willful slovenliness. At the moment things do not look good on that count. Books by Bennett, Santorum, and Himmelfarb are well outweighed by the full force of popular culture, in print ads as well as television....

There you have it: Kids wouldn't run around so damn much if it weren't for irresponsible font choices! Give 'em a nice, stodgy Times Roman and it might just turn them into marvels of Himmelfarbian rectitude!

He throws Orwell in there, too. No, I'm serious -- Orwell.

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