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Your stick family is delicious
June 9, 2014 7:49 AM   Subscribe

Stick Family Feud: "Whether you love them or hate them— and many do despise them—few trends reveal shifting family values in a mobile, personal-branding-obsessed society as do family stick figures."
posted by galvanized unicorn (251 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
"Baby on Board" signs are really useful, however. It keeps me from ramming into people I would otherwise. It's even kept me from lobbing a few grenades.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:52 AM on June 9 [53 favorites]


By the time I was old enough to notice them, "Baby on Board" signs has gotten to be almost entirely ironic, so the earnest resurgence of them in the last few years has been really weird for me.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:54 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Still trying to convince partner we should get the crying Batman and two graves stickers.
posted by Gin and Comics at 7:58 AM on June 9 [70 favorites]


This and the people who put "In Memorium" stickers on their rear window are totally bewildering.
posted by indubitable at 7:59 AM on June 9 [32 favorites]


Identifying yourself as a same-sex couple is another form of resistance, Wade says: “It’s very visible. They’re not coming out to somebody; they’re coming out to everybody.”

Um... I've had a rainbow flag sticker on my car for over 20 years now. That was much more common 20-odd years ago, too. Coming out is always a public act, and putting a sticker on your car was, for decades, one of the ways that gay people made themselves visible. This is not new.

That there are couples using stick figures to come out may be somehow new, but really.
posted by hippybear at 8:01 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:08 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I saw a Star Wars themed stick figure family on a minivan recently - the mom and dad were Darth Vader and Leia. This worries me.
posted by skycrashesdown at 8:09 AM on June 9 [56 favorites]


I was prepared to mock this article, but give it a read, it's very interesting and fairly thoughtful. (I have a comment about shifting definitions of family but it'll have to wait until I have a real keyboard.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:09 AM on June 9


This and the people who put "In Memorium" stickers on their rear window are totally bewildering.

Man, who wouldn't want to memorialized on a 1986 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra?
posted by entropicamericana at 8:09 AM on June 9 [25 favorites]


one time in a target parking lot, the car next to me had 6 cat stickers all in a row on the back windshield. at the time, i was single and i felt it was a sobering glimpse of my potential future.
posted by kerning at 8:09 AM on June 9 [15 favorites]


Where the hell can I find "cryptic aunt" and "tea party stepdad" stickers?
posted by oceanjesse at 8:10 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


This is my favorite.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:11 AM on June 9 [118 favorites]


This para brings out a couple of things about the stick figures that I never consciously noticed but which now I see them seem totally obvious:
“They’re always ordered in ways that are about men being dominant; the man is usually the first figure. They also affirm the idea that all men are bigger than all women.” [...] Their presence also reveals how stick figures in the public realm are, by default, seen as male, says Wade, who has written about gender roles and stick figures. Decal-makers may try to be gender-neutral, but they’re going to fail, because the stick figure is never gender-neutral, Wade says. “If it’s a stick figure with a soccer ball, it looks like a boy, and if it’s a stick figure without a soccer ball, it looks like a boy. And if you look at two figures and one is taller than the other, everyone reads the tall one as male. To make it a woman or girl, you have to use gender signals—a skirt or a ponytail.” It’s impossible to avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes, Wade says. “That’s how power works.”
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:11 AM on June 9 [79 favorites]


As always, there's an xkcd for everything.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:17 AM on June 9 [21 favorites]


Back when the Baby on Board signs first came out, in the 1980s, we bought my mom a sign that said "Ex-Husband in Trunk" because, I guess, we all thought murder was hilarious back then.

My dad, when he saw it, wasn't very amused.

To me the stick figures remind me too much of the things pilots would stencil on their planes to mark how many enemies they've shot down. To each his own, I guess. Still way better than a peeing Calvin.
posted by bondcliff at 8:20 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I wonder if the emerging paranoia about criminals using these stickers as profiling info will make these less popular. The article briefly mentions this.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:21 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I like the polygamy ones (at least, I've been interpreting them as jokes, though some might be serious). But Jacqueline's photo kicks ass and is my new favorite.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:22 AM on June 9


Baby on board...

Something, Something

Burt Ward...
posted by mikelieman at 8:26 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


my favorite one of these was a full family: dad, mom, and a bushel of kids, except dad was partly scraped off. the funny thing is that it might have been sold that way.

the thing about this and 'BoB' is that you want to tell people about your baby, you want to brag about your family, but you don't really get the chance because you are working all the time, and when you aren't working you are driving somewhere or home alone. so there's facebook and your car. it's the bumpersticker equivalent of lonely youtube comments or err..... metafilter.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:27 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm alone in this, but I unabashedly love those stick figures. Its shown me all the different ranges of families that are really out there, as opposed to the 2-parents 1.2 kids that is portrayed in the media. One parent? Three kids? 10 dogs? A fish with an angel halo? I love it!
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:27 AM on June 9 [16 favorites]


been hoping to find a stick family decal of The Aristocrats.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:28 AM on June 9 [38 favorites]


>This and the people who put "In Memorium" stickers on their rear window are totally bewildering.

All I can figure is that purchasing a car is such a momentous event in some folks' lives that they feel the urge to solemnly commemorate the occasion in whatever way they know how. And champagne bottles leave such a nasty mark on the fender.
posted by BurntHombre at 8:33 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Given the recent spate of warnings about criminals choosing targets based on their stick families (referenced at the end of the article), I expect to see a line of heavily armed stick families accompanied by various breeds of guard dogs and surrounded by razor wire.
posted by TedW at 8:36 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Whoa, halos mean the people are dead? Good to know.
posted by Etrigan at 8:36 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


My parents had the primitive version of this: a wooden sign that hung from our porch that read "The Bartfasts". When I came along, a smaller sign was hung below it that read "Slarty." When Sister came along, "Sister" was added. Sometimes we'd go on camping trips in their RV and the sign was brought along to hang at the camp site. From the time I was old enough to have an independent thought I seethed with anger that I was their fucking prop to put on display for anyone who walked past our house. I was embarrassed when friends came over and I was rightly made fun of because of it. Kids need to know as they get older they are defined by much more than their position on the back window of a minivan and my parents allowed very little of this. That fucking sign became symbolic of a whole lot of shit that made me run away and never look back when I turned 18.

I was visiting them at their summer home a couple years ago with my own kids and that fucking sign, freshly sanded and refinished was hanging on the front door. I think it was put there for my benefit, I hate to think that they might *still* carry it everywhere with them. I couldn't ask them about it, not without a licensed family therapist there to mediate.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:37 AM on June 9 [18 favorites]


I expect to see a line of heavily armed stick families accompanied by various breeds of guard dogs and surrounded by razor wire.

Cash machine. Jump on this immediately.
posted by aramaic at 8:38 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Let me add this to the list of "things I have noticed and not cared about and am now amazed to discover people care so passionately about."
posted by yoink at 8:52 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


This must be more common other places. I'm deeply enmeshed in minivan culture over here -- stay-at-home parent, about to have kids #3 and #4 -- and I hardly ever see these.
posted by gerstle at 8:54 AM on June 9


What if the stick figures were made of yellow ribbon?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:55 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Can't we all agree that the best back window sticker is the number 3 with angel wings with the text saying "God needed a driver"?
posted by drezdn at 8:57 AM on June 9 [19 favorites]


That the stick figures make a convenient checklist for a serial killer was my second thought, the first time I saw them. My initial thought was that they represented pedestrians, and the driver was keeping score.
posted by ogooglebar at 9:00 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Now I kind of want a set of these. Me, a dog, and 16 short people for my Girl Scout troop.
posted by phunniemee at 9:01 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I'm not sure why paying people to put advertising on their cars never got big. Why is it OK to wear clothing with ads all over it, but no, somehow my car is only for promoting my personal brand with Jesus fish and zombie stick families and honor roll bumper stickers. I would take $100 a month to get my car wrapped in a HEARTBEAT. Pay me to protect my finish? Hells yeah.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:02 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


> "Baby on Board" signs are really useful, however. It keeps me from ramming into people I would otherwise. It's even kept me from lobbing a few grenades.

"Now people will stop intentionally ramming our car!"
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:02 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


It's hard to put my finger on exactly why these stickers are annoying, but this:

" ... Their story suggests we do still have a family ideal, a norm." At the outset, stick-figure families seemed to "represent what we’re allowed to be proud of," Wade says. "They were strongly hetero-normative and supported the idea of having children." That they showed up on SUVs first is predictable, she says. "When people have four kids, their entire life tends to revolve around their family; that’s their identity—so an opportunity to advertise family-orientedness is appealing."

...is a lot of it for me, I think. Besides the oversharing (I get that people's kids and family are important to them, but asking me to care, as a complete stranger on the highway, is just baffling), they always seem to say "look how well I've done at attaining the married, home-owning, heterosexual, suburban breeder two-kids-and-a-stable-of-pets ideal".

I mean, if that's what you want, then good for you. But advertising it is just weird.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:04 AM on June 9 [20 favorites]


Whenever I see these I imagine a stick-figure sniper taking out the entire stick-figure family with one well-placed stick-figure .50 caliber shot.
posted by BeerFilter at 9:04 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Can't we all agree that the best back window sticker is the number 3 with angel wings with the text saying "God needed a driver"?

Nice, but it needs Calvin praying on one side and Calvin peeing on a Ford logo on the other to round out the ensemble.
posted by TedW at 9:05 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking of how to stick-figurize NO WIFE / NO HORSE / NO MUSTACHE
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:07 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I'm less annoyed by the ubiquitous family stickers (which reflect people's love for their families more than anything) than by the eternal repurposing of ribbon stickers into more and more causes. Camo, confetti, shit... I don't even know what all of them are anymore.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:08 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


"look how well I've done at attaining the married, home-owning, heterosexual, suburban breeder two-kids-and-a-stable-of-pets ideal".

Well, I have a set of these stickers (and four kids, thankyouverymuch) from the Lego store, but I like the stickers too much to put them on my car where they will get ruined by the weather. So am I not-bragging enough?

I just like Lego, and I want the world to know it!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:09 AM on June 9


My childless wife and I have two stick figures followed by a trail of dollar signs and happy faces.

Just kidding. We don't own a car.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:09 AM on June 9 [16 favorites]


I don't have a car, but if I did I'd be tempted to put, like, a TARDIS and a mountain goat in my back window just to confuse people. Something completely Dada and nonsensical.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:10 AM on June 9 [24 favorites]


"You’ll see a barbecue dad and a shopping mom, followed by an older girl hockey player, a hip-hop teen boy, a girl ballerina and a baby boy, followed by dogs, cats, goldfish—all duly named underneath."

I don't particularly care about stickers on someone's car, but, honestly, who would do that? I agree that using stickers to case a home for robbery is overblown fear-mongering but why in god's name would you announce to the world the names of the children that live in the house your car is parked outside of?

That being said, I live in Brooklyn and I've seen these stickers plenty but never with names under them. In elementary school we also weren't allowed to have backpacks with our names on them. So maybe I drank the Kool-Aid on this one but somehow I don't think so.
posted by griphus at 9:10 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The only place I've ever seen the stick figures named was on an episode of Dexter.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:12 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


> I was visiting them at their summer home a couple years ago with my own kids and that fucking sign, freshly sanded and refinished was hanging on the front door. I think it was put there for my benefit, I hate to think that they might *still* carry it everywhere with them.

I hope it will help you take the sign a little less personally to know that those signs are A Thing among RVers. If they didn't have one, they'd likely be seen as standoffish by their RVing peers.

Hi Mom and Dad. Yes, okay, I will affirm for the millionth time that Dad did a really nice job on that sign.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:14 AM on June 9 [9 favorites]


Im curious about the memorial stickers - they're clearly one-off designs, and usually of professional quality (local professional rather than big-market professional, but still.) Where does one go for that work - Is this one of those weird fields of endeavor that keeps sign businesses going even during recessions*? Are there special memorial window-sticker design shops in town? Is it limited to certain ethnicities or religious cultures? Is it one of those gang-things that went mainstream and legit? It's so odd and compelling.

(*The one nearest me put up a gigantic LCD sign that shows a loop of its logo exploding underneath a glowing plastic version of it's logo. Their suburban neighbors are thrilled, but one of the local scrapyards now has a LCD sign that shows its logo exploding. This is the future - logos blowing up everywhere endlessly.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:15 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


> As always, there's an xkcd for everything.

I see someone beat me to the joke.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:15 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I've seen stick figures with names here in Texas, several times. I think it's dumb even if there is no real risk.

Also lots of GIRL NAME (****sparkles****) CHEERLEADER (or BALLERINA, or whatever.
posted by emjaybee at 9:16 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


This morning I saw two unicorns and five cats. I have never really paid attention to these things but I wanted to yell "Wait! Come Back!" I really needed to see who was driving that thing.
posted by readery at 9:16 AM on June 9 [21 favorites]


Why has nobody made a set of these to correspond to the Fellowship of the Ring?

C'mon, nerds. You're slacking.

I would buy this.
posted by schmod at 9:18 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Is this one of those weird fields of endeavor that keeps sign businesses going even during recessions*? Are there special memorial window-sticker design shops in town? Is it limited to certain ethnicities or religious cultures? Is it one of those gang-things that went mainstream and legit? It's so odd and compelling.

Etsy is lousy with listings for custom vinyl decals.
posted by almostmanda at 9:20 AM on June 9


Stick figures are big here in Northern Virginia Not a surprise given the ubiquity of vanity plates really.

We had a deal, Kyle points out the most interesting parts of the article - the way stick figures are gendered male by default - you need to add girl signifies to show feminine. That has always bugged me. Neither the bow nor the skirt suit me. And especially not the shopping bags.
posted by Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons at 9:20 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I get that people's kids and family are important to them, but asking me to care, as a complete stranger on the highway, is just baffling

I guess I don't understand this reasoning. It sounds a lot like "I'm fine with gays, but can't they keep it in private and stop shoving it in my face?".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:20 AM on June 9 [13 favorites]


I only ever see the super-heteronormative ones with the Daddy barbecuing, the Mommy dancing or something (with obligatory skirt/ponytail) and the children of both genders dutifully performing their scripted roles.

They'd be less annoying if I'd ever seen any that weren't 'yes, we are blindly complying with our dominant cultural mandates, boy howdy!'
posted by winna at 9:21 AM on June 9 [18 favorites]


I'm not sure why paying people to put advertising on their cars never got big.

Weirdly, voluntarily placed Monster energy drink logos in rear windshields are very much a thing around these parts. It absolutely baffles me. Is there a Monster Energy prize patrol or something?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:22 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


We advertise our proclivities and orientation all the time: business suit, or sneakers, or dreads, Peace Sign, Jesus fish. Bumper stickers.

My good friend, Dave, has a bumper sticker on his battered El Camino that reads "My other car is a piece of shit, too."

My second ex-wife got me a bumper sticker that read "Horseshoers have a foot between their legs."

Many of these adverts offer useful suggestions concerning where to put what and how far up to put it. In some cases I'm happy to know that a certain person is batshit crazy, and in other cases I'm pretty sure I would love their kitty as much as they do.

Not the kids, though. I'm at the grandpa level, and so long as you keep your little darlings in the car with the window rolled up (while your are driving), then please feel free to cover your entire car with decals. But, please, make the writing large enough that I don't have to get out of my car at the traffic light to get close enough to read it.

The In Memoriam decals baffle me, too. In a sad way, same as the roadside crosses.
posted by mule98J at 9:22 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


stupidsexyflanders, the difference between car ads and clothes ads is that nobody's t-shirt ever ran a red light and mowed down a family in a crosswalk. a video of the coca cola car doing this would be negative branding.

i always liked the parody stickers better "rockstar on board", "superpremium hooker on board" and the rare "single mormon seeks several wives".
posted by bruce at 9:23 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


> been hoping to find a stick family decal of The Aristocrats.

I think you can just add Calvin peeing on them and you're halfway there.
posted by phong3d at 9:23 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


...you need to add girl signifies to show feminine.

I hope as I have never hoped before that someone out there is selling stick figure families where the women are just the regular stick figures and the men have visible, danging genitals.
posted by griphus at 9:23 AM on June 9 [44 favorites]


Where does one go for that work - Is this one of those weird fields of endeavor that keeps sign businesses going even during recessions*?

I believe the custom ones would usually come from a sign shop, yeah. Generally the same places that put the graphic wraps around news vehicles, cop cars, etc.
posted by ndfine at 9:24 AM on June 9


The joke is that the Baby On Board signs were taken down during the Road Rage era, because they were getting a little too on the nose.
posted by ceribus peribus at 9:24 AM on June 9


the emerging paranoia about criminals using these stickers as profiling info

I don't really get this. Wouldn't the car itself be better for guessing whether someone is a good potential mark? Someone is driving a Mercedes SUV? Follow them home, they're obviously rich.

Or are the thieves trying to score video game consoles and Barbie dream houses?

How is this any more risky than "My kid is an honor student at [name of school]" in terms of useful robbery info?
posted by Sara C. at 9:25 AM on June 9 [11 favorites]


The male-by-default is, unfortunately, normal; for example, ducks are male unless they have eyelashes. I've tried to convince my kids that any minifig can be female (let's leave aside the ones with stubble), not just the ones with lipstick or breasts, but they never bought it.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:25 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


I live in the middle of mini-van culture (no stickers on ours, but then I like anonymity), but I think there has only been one time I have seen names underneath. The only people I know personally with family stickers on their car are gung-ho Disney people, which is it's own subculture, and the fact that they have stick figures with mouse ears is more to do with their Disney love than anything else. I am curious now if there are people/places were putting names underneath is a thing. I have never spoken to my friend about the stickers, but know them well enough that they would think it crazy to include names - not out of fear, just that it's kind of an odd thing to do.
posted by dawg-proud at 9:25 AM on June 9


I love the ones that say, "Your stick family is delicious," or "No one cares about your stick family." I've seen that Star Wars one too, actually, and found it a bit disturbing (Vader and Leia? What?). I think about the potential danger of announcing your family size, genders, and names fairly often. The ones with the names/hobbies seem stupidest: "Hey, check it out, our son loves soccer and his name is Timmy," and sometimes you can even find out the school Timmy goes to, if they have a "My child was an honor student at..." sticker. The one with six cats made me laugh, though.

Back when the "Support your troops" magnetic ribbons were getting big, I bought a bunch of ribbons that said, "Support the magnetic ribbon industry," put one on my car and gave the rest to some friends.

Now I just have a bumper sticker from Kingdom of Loathing that says, "Knob Goblins fear my moxie."

As for the memorial ones, I didn't really get them until a very close friend lost her 20 year old son to an illness, and when she put that decal on, I got it. She thinks of him constantly. She wants the world to remember him too. Not saying it works, but I get the feels behind it.
posted by routergirl at 9:26 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


> How is this any more risky than "My kid is an honor student at [name of school]" in terms of useful robbery info

IT'S ALL DANGEROUS.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:27 AM on June 9


I have seen names on the stick figures in a few cases, but it's rare. Here in the suburban south the stick figure thing is everywhere. Prior to this craze, it was all about either some form of sporting equipment or a megaphone with Spencer's or Ashleigh's name in the graphic.
posted by ndfine at 9:30 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Ok, well I don't see it as dangerous enough to be all OH MY GOD YOUR STICKERS ENDANGER YOUR CHILDREN. Foolish, maybe. But you know, I'm an anxious person. So there's that.
posted by routergirl at 9:30 AM on June 9


I have a bunch of stickers on my Tacoma. Some product ones I thought were cool (ARB 4x4, etc.) Some beer stickers like "Old Guys Rule". Some jokey ones like "Jeep recovery vehicle", or the on the skidplate that says "If you can read this, I am either in big trouble or getting my oil changed".

But my favorite by far - a Smokey The Bear sticker that says "I put out."
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:31 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Someone on Reddit pointed out to me that Baby on Board stickers aren't trying to say "please don't hit me, I have a baby." They're trying to say "I have a noise and vomit machine that may be distracting me, please excuse erratic/slow driving."
posted by JDHarper at 9:31 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


I will also say that, after a year and a half in SoCal, I'm starting to like these. I could totally see myself doing the six cats one. Or just picking out one novelty figure, like Darth Vader or some kind of cool looking dog. Not to represent reality, but just as an interesting random thing to make it easier to figure out which of a zillion identical Corollas in the parking lot is mine.

In college a friend of mine had an old hooptie used car with a faded CHOOSE LIFE bumper sticker on it that positively infuriated me. It's odd how much we've internalized the back end of a car as personal expression space.
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The in memoriam signs are a class designator. My family would never do that, but we also don't get shirts printed up with the dead person's face either, or paint a big mural on a wall to memorialize them. Other people do, and that's ok.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:34 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Even though we live in the age of the panopticon and companies know more about you than Orwell even dreamed, I still get creeped out by these things. Probably because I grew up in the era of Johnny Gosch, and my entire generation was discouraged from even putting their name on their shirts.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:34 AM on June 9


I hope as I have never hoped before that someone out there is selling stick figure families where the women are just the regular stick figures and the men have visible, danging genitals.

You could always rig something up using Truck Nutz.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:36 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


//It's odd how much we've internalized the back end of a car as personal expression space.//

The next bumper sticker / window decal I put on a car will be the first one.

I find the in memoriam signs a bit creepy, especially the ones memorializing somebody that died 10+ years ago. When I see one (frequently here in the South)I wonder just how unhappy the driver must be, still hanging onto a memory of a loved one 10+ years later, and not moving on at all.
posted by COD at 9:38 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


If you the cheating kind, the family sticker things can be a real deal-breaker...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:38 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


But my favorite by far - a Smokey The Bear sticker that says "I put out."

Ummm... where can I get one of these?
posted by hippybear at 9:38 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


In college a friend of mine had an old hooptie used car with a faded CHOOSE LIFE bumper sticker on it that positively infuriated me.

Some people really hate Ewan McGregor.
posted by amorphatist at 9:38 AM on June 9 [12 favorites]


The next bumper sticker / window decal I put on a car will be the first one.

Coincidentally, this is what it says on the bumper sticker you can buy at the Godel, Escher, Bach gift shop.
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on June 9 [39 favorites]


This bumper sticker is false.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:40 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


The next bumper sticker / window decal I put on a car will be the first one.

I used to feel this way, and then I got a ubiquitous nondescript looking car. I haven't gotten around to putting anything on it yet, but I'm aware of the need to get around to that. And I suddenly get why people do it, beyond just like narcissism or whatever.
posted by Sara C. at 9:46 AM on June 9


I used to point these out to my wife and say, "If you wanted to abduct their kids, the girl plays soccer and the boy plays hockey, chances are they may be alone some time. There's good money to be made in ransom. Alternatively that vehicle is pretty nice, instead, we can stalk the vehicle and find out when their practices are, then we can rob their house while they are out."
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:48 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Yesterday I saw one with a happy-looking lady with a laptop, and then a dog. I wonder if she's on MeFi right now.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 9:49 AM on June 9 [15 favorites]


I'm starting to see more names attached to the figures here in NJ.

"Hi, Braydynn! Remember me? My little brother Ayden plays soccer with you. I saw you at the field last game. Yes, Kayden! That's what I said. Anyway your Mom, Kim, called me and asked me to take you home for a bit because Pollyn got hurt at cheer today and she's going to be late. And then John, I mean your Dad, will pick you up. Okay? You can have a snack with my brother. How's the cat doing? "

I mean it probably happens rarely if ever, but if pixie-dust me can roleplay it in my head, I'm sure someone more determined to snatch a kid already has done it that way.
posted by kimberussell at 9:49 AM on June 9


But my favorite by far - a Smokey The Bear sticker that says "I put out."

Ummm... where can I get one of these?


I got it from a Tshirt place in Breckenridge, CO last summer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:53 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I used to point these out to my wife and say, "If you wanted to abduct their kids, the girl plays soccer and the boy plays hockey, chances are they may be alone some time. There's good money to be made in ransom. Alternatively that vehicle is pretty nice, instead, we can stalk the vehicle and find out when their practices are, then we can rob their house while they are out."

Criminals who are that good at planning tend to get into more lucrative and less risky forms of crime, if not more lucrative and less risky forms of non-crime.
posted by Etrigan at 9:54 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


I'll stick on/to the fat/glasses-wearing/reading/mudflap girl. Even though I look like and am looking for her butch equivalent.
posted by Dreidl at 9:54 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Yeah with names and hobbies that are actually a reflection of scheduled activities, that's a bit much. Like, people, maybe don't be so literal with your stick figure decals.

That said, the above "Hi, Braydynn..." speech could also happen in any small town. Remember that things like abductions and murders are much more likely to be perpetrated by someone who already knows you. You have much more to fear from your shady uncle than some psycho killer who saw your name on the back of an SUV.
posted by Sara C. at 9:55 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Nice, but it needs Calvin praying on one side and Calvin peeing on a Ford logo on the other to round out the ensemble.

I think now's the time to place bets on whether 'Calvin peeing on something' will outlive all memory of a comic strip, all memory of Ford or Chevy even. Calvin will just be the peeing god, who ritually humiliates your enemy brands.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:56 AM on June 9 [34 favorites]


I used to be all about bumper stickers until I read a study that showed a link between car adornments and aggressive driving, concluding that stickers, magnets, etc. show a territorial mindset and thus territorial aggression. To quote: “The number of territory markers predicted road rage better than vehicle value, condition or any of the things that we normally associate with aggressive driving." Non paywall link.

Thus armed with this knowledge, one could view those stick family stickers as a car to be more cautious with as a defensive driver, because one knows the driver may not only be dealing with X number of kids, but may be more aggressive, too.
posted by barchan at 9:57 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Pat got a new bumper sticker.
posted by griphus at 9:59 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


Peeing Calvin - Susie - Hobbes - Binky Betsy
posted by gottabefunky at 10:00 AM on June 9


From the article:

Although there has yet to be a case linking criminal behaviour to stick-figure profiling, worries are being aired that enterprising thieves will know which cars to target for sports equipment, or whether a dog is of “guard-dog” quality.

Yeah, this is so not a thing.

I mean, if you want to steal sports equipment, wouldn't it be easier to just rob a sporting goods store?
posted by Sara C. at 10:07 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Someone on Reddit pointed out to me that Baby on Board stickers aren't trying to say "please don't hit me, I have a baby." They're trying to say "I have a noise and vomit machine that may be distracting me, please excuse erratic/slow driving."

I learned to drive in a small Kansas town where farmers went to retire. There were a lot of elderly folks who had issues and very little public transportation, so there was a fair bit of visible evidence of an attitude that to prevent a questionably competent driver from driving would basically torpedo their ability to live independently, and anyway maybe they just drive known routes in daylight and therefore don't necessarily need to, for instance, see. The tale I tell to illustrate this: when I went in to get my driver's license, the person ahead of me in line was taking a reverse eye exam. The clerk said "Now, what sort of letter does that first one look like. For instance, it might look a lot like an E?" Quavery response: "......E?" "Great! Now how about that next letter -- it might be a letter something like C?" Quavery response: "...........C?" "Excellent. Now keep in mind for this next one that Z is definitely also a letter...."

I used to sort-of-joke that handicapped plates were a bargain in which one got preferred parking in exchange for providing other drivers advance warning, because in my experience at the time there was a certain mode of questionably-tied-to-external-reality driving that was tied pretty closely to the presence of said plates. Then cell phones became a thing, and I left aforementioned town and its odd demographics, and the people drifting across four lanes of traffic became predominantly the holding-hand-to-left-ear-where-brain-is-not type.

Now I kind of wish for prominent cell phone placards on cars. Alas, I can't quite figure out how to get people to put them on.
posted by sparktinker at 10:07 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


> I used to sort-of-joke that handicapped plates were a bargain in which one got preferred parking in exchange for providing other drivers advance warning

I'm glad you don't make that "joke" any longer.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:09 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


I left aforementioned town and its odd demographics, and the people drifting across four lanes of traffic became predominantly the holding-hand-to-left-ear-where-brain-is-not type.

Coming soon to a theater near you: Straight Story II: Kansas Drift.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:12 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


"No one cares about your stick family."

I'll take any number of stick figure families or Baby on Board signs any day over someone advertising their dickishness.

"My son beat up your honor student.", "Don't like my driving, dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT", peeing Calvin, whatever. Life is already hostile enough.

I get that people don't like stuff, but just like coming into a thread about a band to say how much you hate that band, nobody needs to hear about the things people don't like.

Unless the thing you don't like is people talking about how they don't like stuff. If that's the case, rant away, you're doing God's work.
posted by bondcliff at 10:16 AM on June 9 [16 favorites]


This is probably uncharitable, but I find these type of bumper stickers (along with ones that denote political affiliation) annoying in the same way I find any behavior that comes off as pure "notice me", ego-driven behavior off-putting. Honestly, I have never been curious about the marital/parental/pet-owning status of the driver of the Ford Explorer in front of me at a red-light or where he or she stands on abortion, gun rights or Obama's qualities as president; putting one of these stickers on their vehicle would indicate the driver thinks I should be.
posted by The Gooch at 10:21 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The other day I was behind a 15-passenger van with two big Jesus Fish and ten little Jesus Fish following it. Took me a minute for the penny to drop but then I was all "ohhhhh dear."
posted by KathrynT at 10:21 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


"Sometimes the Mommy Jesus loves the Daddy Jesus very, very much...."
posted by Dip Flash at 10:24 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


I'm less annoyed by the ubiquitous family stickers (which reflect people's love for their families more than anything) than by the eternal repurposing of ribbon stickers into more and more causes. Camo, confetti, shit... I don't even know what all of them are anymore.

Not sure about the camo or confetti, but I think the shit ribbon is for IBS.
posted by malocchio at 10:24 AM on June 9 [17 favorites]


Ok, I would totally use Calvin peeing on "The stultifying compositions of Edvard Grieg".
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:26 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


“The number of territory markers predicted road rage better than vehicle value, condition or any of the things that we normally associate with aggressive driving."

Thank you, barchan. I will bear this in mind during my daily commute.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:28 AM on June 9


I tend to be way more annoyed by religion-related bumper stickers than stick figure families or political stickers. It just seems so gauche and TMI to advertise your religion on your car. And plus, I'm pretty sure Jesus doesn't care. Jesus would probably prefer you go volunteer at a soup kitchen rather than put a bumper sticker on your car. It's performative Christianity of the worst kind, all show and no substance.

I shouldn't single out Christians though, I've seen a few cars with calligraphy from the Quran on them, which strikes me as being in equally poor taste. Your car is your car, not the word of God.
posted by yasaman at 10:30 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I'll take any number of stick figure families or Baby on Board signs any day over someone advertising their dickishness.

I saw one of those "nobody cares about your stick figure family" stickers where above it was a bunch of stick figures fleeing a flying saucer death ray or something. Thought the fleeing family was pretty hilarious, but the tag line turned it from "amusing variation" to "jerkish commentary", and that struck me as kind of meh.

There's a degree to which I kind of wince at a car that has outright political statements pasted all over it, but I figure they probably feel the same way about that as I feel about my rainbow sticker / knife company sticker / alma mater sticker / maybe add local shooting range sticker combo -- visibility is a legit thing, y'know.
posted by sparktinker at 10:33 AM on June 9


Since we totalled our car, a friend has loaned us theirs till we get around to replacing it. So the stick figures on it don't correspond to our family at all. Also a faded Jesus sticker, but since we love Jesus at our house it's not that big a deal.

As to the memorial things....I still choke up when I see the ones for soldiers. I see too many of them around here.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:34 AM on June 9


I amuse myself by interpreting these decals as something akin to kill flags painted on a fighter plane.
posted by the painkiller at 10:35 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I think the most abrasive bumper sticker I've seen was one that's styled like the “COEXIST” sticker that's been around for a while, with each letter made out of a different religious emblem, except it said “CONVERT” and was next to a bunch of LOOK HOW CATHOLIC I AM messages.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:39 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


If I ever got my hands on a surplus of stick figure decals, I think I'd repurpose them into one big stick figure wicker man and just let the people driving behind me interpret that how they will.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:41 AM on June 9 [20 favorites]


I guess it's immature or uncharitable or whatever, but these stickers annoy me so much.

It seems that I only see ones with a Dad, Mom, and kids decorated with various hobbies on the back of an SUV, like someone's proud declaration that they have achieved a heteronormative ideal that they need to brag about.

Look, I don't care that Jayden plays soccer or that Daddy wears a tie, I care that you don't hit me with that continent-sized SUV you are driving.
posted by inertia at 10:46 AM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Years ago, my mother bought a used Saturn that came with one of those aluminum Jesus fish on it. Like the thick kind with the sticker backing. She didn't particularly care about it because she didn't particularly give a shit about her car save for making sure it could convey her from point A to point B. That and the car was black and the aluminum was reflective so unless illuminated by the sun the decal sort of faded into the car.

Anyway, at some point we drive to Baltimore to visit my aunt and uncle. Now, my uncle very much identifies as Jewish and atheist both. So as we're eating breakfast that morning, he walks into the house and victoriously deposits the Jesus fish he just wrenched off my mother's Saturn on the table.

Of course, having ripped off off the barely-visible aluminum Jesus fish decal, the black car was left with a very visible, off-white Jesus fish painted in hardened glue.
posted by griphus at 10:49 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Allie Brosh should make decals of her work. So many possibilities!
posted by that's candlepin at 10:52 AM on June 9 [24 favorites]


These aren't a Thing here, or at least I've never seen one. I had to go to Google to see if you can buy them here and apparantly you can. My 17 year old Toyota could do with some jazzing up so I looked to see of you could get a bottle of gin, a bar of chocolate, and a gaping hole of existential despair but they don't seem to be available yet.

one of those aluminum Jesus fish on it

I'm not a fan of bumper stickers in general, but I always have a nice feeling when I see this one because I know me and Driver could be friends.
posted by billiebee at 10:57 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


"Don't like my driving, dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT"

I knew a guy who had one of these -- his wife was a colleague of mine. She was genuinely mystified by the amount of rage people directed at him on the street. I looked at her in total amazement... "you really can't figure out why that would piss someone off? Or better yet, set someone off who was already pissed off?" It's extraordinary.
posted by George_Spiggott at 11:01 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Re: Jesus fish.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:06 AM on June 9 [3 favorites]


A lot of the auto memorials that I've seen have sadly referred to fairly (or very) short-lived individuals. I imagine the shock involved would be difficult to channel through your psyche. Perhaps these stickers, though probably ultimately unsatisfying, can provide some recognition to emotions others may be lucky enough not to have to process. I think it's kind of a weird choice to make but I bet a lot of the folks who stick these on their rear windows have had some weird experiences.
posted by firemouth at 11:09 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


The bumper sticker that gets me scratching my head is the yellow "Don't tread on me" one with the coiled snake. Usually, the lettering is too small to read from another car, and the snake looks like nothing as much as a pile of dog crap, complete with a cartoon smell ray rising from its top. I always wonder why the person who put it on their car didn't see what I see.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:09 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


One of the differences between my area of Canada and the areas of the United States I've visited seems to be the extent to which citizens communicate with each other via bumper sticker.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:09 AM on June 9


EmpressCallipygos: "I don't have a car, but if I did I'd be tempted to put, like, a TARDIS and a mountain goat in my back window just to confuse people. Something completely Dada and nonsensical."

I am way ahead of you.
posted by workerant at 11:11 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, they're supposed to be families. I always thought they represented kills, what with them usually appearing on hulking death machines.

That would explain why they're not stenciled along the nose.
posted by ckape at 11:11 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


"Baby on Board" signs ... keeps me from ramming into people I would otherwise.

So I guess a "Nuke on Board" sign would work too?
posted by Twang at 11:14 AM on June 9


The grandfather of the Baby on Board sign was the bumper sticker for Ford Pintos that read DON'T HIT ME I'M FULL OF GAS.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:20 AM on June 9 [4 favorites]


"Improperly stored nitroglycerin on board"

or maybe

"Line of caltrops tenuously secured below rear bumper"
posted by postcommunism at 11:22 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


I have a set of these stickers (and four kids, thankyouverymuch) from the Lego store

You can buy kids there too??
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:24 AM on June 9 [6 favorites]


Still way better than a peeing Calvin.

But what about Calvin peeing on a Darwin fish that is making fun of a Jesus fish?

It's like the episodes of The Americans where each side has to decide whether they will stop escalating the insanity and just take the hit.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:25 AM on June 9


I too am completely baffled by memorial stickers on cars. Almost all the ones I've seen are for people who seemed to have died fairly young.

People put so much of their identity into their car, sometimes, and also sometimes derive so much of their identity from their car. It's like the back window of cars have become this place to display markers of who you have lost and who you love. It's a strange, silent conversation while sitting in traffic on the highway.
posted by inertia at 11:27 AM on June 9


I think we're due for a nostalgic resurgence of those spring-mounted waving hands that you'd mount inside your back window with a suction cup. For whatever reason, those were like the coolest thing ever to 6 year old me, and I badgered my parents into getting one. I don't think it ever made it onto the car, but one time when my grandpa was visiting he picked it up and stuck it to his forehead, much to everyone's amusement.

Then, instead of peeling the suction cup off, he gave it a sharp yank. It came off with a pop and left a perfectly round 1 1/2" wide hickey right on his forehead. Did I mention that grandpa was a pastor, and had a service the following morning?
posted by usonian at 11:29 AM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Re young people memorialized on cars, my guess is that this is exactly why it's done. Most likely, the person putting the memorial up is also young. This means two things. Firstly, losing a close friend or family member that was your own age, when you are young, is a pretty big event in your life. Secondly, young people are also likely to be buying their first cars, and to see their car as a major aspect of their identity. This is a huge event in their life, something they want to commemorate in some way, and their car is a really compelling blank canvas for that. It makes total sense to me.

Way more sense than the stick figures, which are actually bizarrely abstract if you're not already aware of the convention.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on June 9


This is dark, but totally relevant (and funny).
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 11:34 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


When I lived in Delaware the memorial stickers I saw were split almost 50/50 between people who died young and people who were called “Grandpa” or something right on the sticker.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:35 AM on June 9


Where does one go for that work [custom 'in memoriam' window stickers]

In my area it's the sort of thing you'd have done at your local subwoofer / window tint / glasspack muffler / neon underbody lighting place, which is almost invariably located in a sketchy strip mall out on the edges of town, but of course you can get them online now.

I am kinda partial to the cat with angel wings personally.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:40 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


a bottle of gin, a bar of chocolate, and a gaping hole of existential despair

Well, but that's pretty much covered by the standard "Daddy, Mommy, and 2 kids" set, isn't it?

*ducks*
posted by soundguy99 at 11:42 AM on June 9 [10 favorites]


Yeah, the decal work is done at either auto glass places or maybe body shops. The same places who do custom skins for your car body.

I am still baffled by why the Monster Energy Drink logo is so ubiquitous on auto body skins. For a long time I assumed they must be corporate vehicles or something, but more and more I think it's just an aesthetic choice.
posted by Sara C. at 11:43 AM on June 9


"If you wanted to abduct their kids, the girl plays soccer and the boy plays hockey, chances are…"

…chances are the girl will run me down and then her brother will beat me senseless with his stick. Hmmm…

Say, has anyone ever seen a car with a black Narcolepsy Awareness ribbon? I bet they'd be easy marks, and too tired to chase me -- unless of course they were actually napping in the parked car. Better keep an eye open for the black ribbon plus an NRA sticker, then!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:45 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I am kinda partial to the cat with angel wings personally.

That looks like an ordinary cat cornering its next meal.
posted by ogooglebar at 11:45 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


This is the bumper sticker on my car.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:47 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


The best thing would be to get that cat/wings sticker and then put "RIP Polly the Parrot" underneath.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:51 AM on June 9


Kirth Gerson -- that is the Gadsden Flag, much beloved by the Sovereign Citizen and Militia groups, such as the Bundy group in Nevada, or that couple that in Las Vegas this weekend, or the Open Carry idiots who have taken to wandering around restaurants, grocery stores and playgrounds with multiple assault rifles, and hundreds of rounds of ammo in bandoleers, claiming that should make us all feel safer.

I would take a Gadsden Flag on a car as an indicator that the driver is possibly armed, certain that his gun rights trump your life, and permanently pissed off, and would give them a wide berth, just in case.
posted by pbrim at 11:52 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


So are the angel baby stickers supposed to signify that your baby is really well behaved, or dead, or what? Do you put that up in case of miscarriage? Very confusing.
posted by Sara C. at 11:53 AM on June 9


The angel baby signifies that you had sexual congress with Metatron, with subsequent issue.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 11:56 AM on June 9 [14 favorites]


My favorite car with a Gadson flag emblem on it was a corvette with a custom vinyl wrap with a combination of Gadson flag/American flag/lettering all over it about how Obama is a socialist and socialism is ruining our economy (I'm paraphrasing, but not exaggerating). There was also some kind of joke comparing Obama to Darth Vader.

The vanity plate was "PURFECT".
posted by inertia at 11:56 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I like bumper stickers, even if they're ones I disagree with and even though I hate cars. Like political signs, graffiti, public art, etc., they're a tiny way to reclaim public visual space for regular people. (To be honest, I'm incredibly surprised that companies haven't begun renting ads on private cars.) There's nothing more comforting to me than seeing a beat-up old car covered in 300 bumper stickers with cheesy 90s-crunchy slogans like "what if the army had to throw a bake sale" and "coexist" with different religious symbols.
posted by threeants at 11:57 AM on June 9 [5 favorites]


That would explain why they're not stenciled along the nose.

I have a sudden desire to get some of the pet stickers and put a row of cats and dogs over my front left wheel. I better sprinkle some toddler or crawling baby stick figures in to make sure it's clear it's a joke, so that I don't get my car keyed by someone who thinks I actively seek out neighborhood pets.

People would realize the kids meant it's a joke, right?
posted by jermsplan at 11:59 AM on June 9


...that is the Gadsden Flag, much beloved by the Sovereign Citizen and Militia groups...

Yes, I know what it is, and I know what they're trying to say with it. I just find it peculiar that they presumably don't see the message they're sending to people who don't know the symbol.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:00 PM on June 9


A not quite completely unrelated Emo Philips joke:

"As a comedian I travel a lot for my work, but I'm not married and don't have any kids, so I don't really get the full benefit."
posted by and for no one at 12:01 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Mine are always too long to be really pithy. Like "What if trade and industry groups had to hold a bake sale to pay the ludicrous speaking engagement fees they use to reward former politicians who served them well while in office?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:04 PM on June 9


300 bumper stickers with cheesy 90s-crunchy slogans like "what if the army had to throw a bake sale"

That's my favorite bumper sticker. I'm irrationally fond of it. They were still selling it on the street in Berkeley when I lived there a decade ago but it's been much longer than that since I've seen it on an actual car.
posted by gerstle at 12:05 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


griphus: ""That being said, I live in Brooklyn and I've seen these stickers plenty but never with names under them. In elementary school we also weren't allowed to have backpacks with our names on them. So maybe I drank the Kool-Aid on this one but somehow I don't think so."

I think it's just a little bit of NYC koolaid. First, most of these people probably have garages so the cars aren't parked outside their houses. Second, I live in a quiet urban neighborhood and I know 95+% of the people who go down my street after living here 10 years ... like the neighbor's teenager's girlfriend, or the kid-on-the-corner's aunt or the friend of the woman two doors down who pops over a lot to visit. Anyone who would see my kids' names on my car in my neighborhood would already know my kids' names. (Although I wouldn't put my kids' names on my car because ... yo, that's weird. But the safety reason thing seems ridiculously overblown.)

The corpse in the library: "The male-by-default is, unfortunately, normal; for example, ducks are male unless they have eyelashes."

Even pteradons need eyelashes to be girls! (Mrs. Pteradon, Shiny, and Tiny are on the left and are all girls.)

yasaman: "I tend to be way more annoyed by religion-related bumper stickers than stick figure families or political stickers. ... It's performative Christianity of the worst kind, all show and no substance."

For a while I lived quite near a Baptist megachurch and every. fucking. car. that cut me off or ran a red light or flipped me off had a "LOCAL BAPTIST MEGACHURCH!!!!" bumper sticker and I was constantly like, Why does this church even make bumper stickers? It's like they're advertising that all their members are TERRIBLE, SELFISH, LAWBREAKING PEOPLE.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:11 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


I am still baffled by why the Monster Energy Drink logo is so ubiquitous on auto body skins. For a long time I assumed they must be corporate vehicles or something, but more and more I think it's just an aesthetic choice.

"I am displaying my rebellious individuality in a corporate-approved and societal-conforming manner!"
posted by malocchio at 12:15 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I usually sorta roll my eyes at the family stickers, but I can't get over this zombie family. The little undead fish is my favorite. Star Wars creeps me out a bit though. Vader Leia? Dad should obviously be Hans Solo. And...who is Yoda supposed to be?

Here in the San Francisco area, we see a lot of less conventional sticker family setups, which I deeply enjoy. Two moms and some babies. Two dudes and their cat. A mom, some kids, and their dogs. I always enjoy the diverse families. I like seeing people who are proud of the families they have made for themselves, even if they don't fit the regular formula.
posted by chatongriffes at 12:18 PM on June 9


A friend of mine used to have a beat up little red station wagon whose back was covered with stickers, mostly names of punk or industrial bands, but also a few passive-aggressive punk slogans.

Another friend was looking at the stickers once, and said, "I really like the one that says, 'pull me over'."

"Which one is that?"

"All of 'em."
posted by Mister Moofoo at 12:18 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]


And...who is Yoda supposed to be?

The funny uncle.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:24 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I always thought they represented kills, what with them usually appearing on hulking death machines.
...
This is the bumper sticker on my car

Oh my god we get it, ok?
posted by indubitable at 12:25 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Actually, my next door neighbor worked for TriMet (Portland public transit agency), and his teenage son reappropriated one of the bus bumper stickers for his own car. It read:

251 cars are at home because I'm on the road.
posted by redsparkler at 12:28 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


I would so read the shit out of some kind of Definitive History Of Vehicular Folk Art, explaining the origins of the Calvin decal among others.
posted by Sara C. at 12:30 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


Two weeks before 9/11 I put a bumper sticker on my car that said "This Is Freedom?" It was a proud moment of counter-culture in my life. (For those that want to know, I got it from Unamerican.com - I was psyched!)

So... 9/11... and I spent like 2 weeks sort of ashamed that I had the sticker on my car. Then we got to play with the Patriot Act, mass hysteria, daily alert statuses, fear, uncertainty, doubt, two wars, Guantanamo, ... and well... a host of wtf America moments culminating in Anonymous and Snowden. Yeah, so - that sticker kept seeming more and more apropos and was on my car till I sold it recently. Gotta say - almost a poorly timed sticker turned out to predict the future.

(Also on there - marriage equality and a John Kerry sticker...)
posted by Nanukthedog at 12:31 PM on June 9


In general I'm not enthused about the stick figure stickers either, but I would so buy an @ and f pair.
posted by eviemath at 12:37 PM on June 9 [7 favorites]


I just got a new (to me) car and as part of growing up I will (begrudgingly) not be moving over the "Support Farting" ribbon to the new one.

So many strangers laughed and took pictures of it.
posted by Twain Device at 12:40 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Brewster Rockit: Family Vehicle Decals...in Space!
posted by zakur at 12:43 PM on June 9


Dad should obviously be Hans Solo

Hokey religionce und ancient veapons are no match for a gut blaster at your zide, kit.
posted by yoink at 12:45 PM on June 9 [14 favorites]


Brewster Rockit: Family Vehicle Decals...in Space!

Awwww - Kang and Kodos finally started a family!
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:53 PM on June 9


Why does this church even make bumper stickers? It's like they're advertising that all their members are TERRIBLE, SELFISH, LAWBREAKING PEOPLE.

I once had a "Jesus would use his turn signal" sticker printed up after being cut off by one too many fish-bearing SUVs, but was too nervous about being actually run off the road to put it on my car.
posted by Flannery Culp at 12:54 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Oh my god we get it, ok?

I was trying to make a joke
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:59 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I am probably overly fond of my offspring, but I don't have family decals on my car. I am really tempted to get them now, though, except with an extra kid older than my firstborn. When the kids ask who that is, I'll just sigh and say "Bobby didn't eat his vegetables and he doesn't get to live here anymore, but we still love him."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:03 PM on June 9 [35 favorites]


In the wake of 9/11, the street where I lived at the time sprouted a proliferation of patriotic bumper stickers. My favorite was the "These Colors Don't Run" sticker that, within two or three years, had faded out almost completely.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 1:07 PM on June 9 [9 favorites]


My favorite was the "These Colors Don't Run" sticker that, within two or three years, had faded out almost completely.

What you didn't understand was that when they said "they don't run" they meant the colors weren't fast.
posted by yoink at 1:11 PM on June 9 [19 favorites]


I wonder if the emerging paranoia about criminals using these stickers as profiling info will make these less popular.

I'm surprised this hasn't put a damper on the trend. I'd have imagined an approximately 1:1 overlap of people with stick figure families in their rear windows and people inclined to panic about OMG SERIAL KILLERS ARE USING THIS INFORMATION TO TARGET FAMILIES ALERT EVERYONE YOU CARE ABOUT RIGHT AWAY!
posted by straight at 1:15 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]


My minivan recently turned 8, and I realized there's no reason to keep worrying about its finish, so I've been on a sticker binge. I like the idea of family stickers for us because "grownup grownup kid kid kid dog dog cat cat cat cat cat parrot parrot parrot" is just so over-the-top. Maybe we could get halo cats, dogs, parrots, and hamsters for all our beloved former pets.

A friend liked the idea and was going to order me a sticker with all of that from a place that had a lot of options (it was going to have my oldest kid flying a remote control helicopter, my second kid reading a book, and it even had a muscley kid with a mohawk for my youngest) but it was going to cost $75, so it hardly seemed worth it.
posted by not that girl at 1:24 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Stick Family Feud
A stick-figure Steve Harvey, looking utterly disgusted by and disappointed in everyone.

OH MY GOD YOUR STICKERS ENDANGER YOUR CHILDREN
Tonight at 11, a disturbing new trend: stick figure families now attacking real families.

DON'T HIT ME I'M FULL OF GAS.
I kind of need that on a t-shirt.

it was going to cost $75
I was wondering why nobody's going around surreptitiously adding new family members and pets to other people's cars. That kind of answers my question.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:28 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


I'm surprised this hasn't put a damper on the trend. I'd have imagined an approximately 1:1 overlap of people with stick figure families in their rear windows and people inclined to panic about OMG SERIAL KILLERS ARE USING THIS INFORMATION TO TARGET FAMILIES ALERT EVERYONE YOU CARE ABOUT RIGHT AWAY!

It'd be fun to get some custom decals made and add antler crowns and stick figure Yellow Kings to other people's stick figure families.
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:37 PM on June 9 [8 favorites]


Someone should sell an enormous drone targeting reticule sticker for people to put on their car roof. Or, hell, the roof of their house. Maybe even add some target lead indicators on there, flash it up a bit.
posted by aramaic at 1:49 PM on June 9


I got a machine that cuts vinyl as a present and had no idea what to do with it, but now I do.

Time to make a bunch of Elder Gods march in awful majesty along the bottom of my rear window!
posted by winna at 1:55 PM on June 9 [13 favorites]


Someone on Reddit pointed out to me that Baby on Board stickers aren't trying to say "please don't hit me, I have a baby." They're trying to say "I have a noise and vomit machine that may be distracting me, please excuse erratic/slow driving."

I always thought it was originally for rescuers to know that after the car is in its inevitable accident that they should check for children. When I was kid we even had orange stickers with a big C on our bedroom windows so firemen would know where children may be.
posted by srboisvert at 2:01 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I've lived outside the U.S. for a decade now, and didn't even know about these stickers. So that's American pop culture item #462 that I need to add to the list...
posted by zardoz at 2:15 PM on June 9


Weirdly, voluntarily placed Monster energy drink logos in rear windshields are very much a thing around these parts. It absolutely baffles me.

I see a lot of Monster logo tattoos. It's a serious cultural touchstone for some people. The biggest I saw was a large, full color M on the side of someone's neck -- no hiding that one.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:17 PM on June 9


I'd like to see a stick figure decal of the two little girls from The Shining. "Come and play with us. Forever. And Ever. And Ever."
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:25 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Alongside a stick figure of Pennywise.

We all float down here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:27 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


I'd like to see a stick figure decal of the two little girls from The Shining. "Come and play with us. Forever. And Ever. And Ever."

They're all stick figure decals of the two little girls from The Shining. You just can't tell, because they're stick figures.
posted by Etrigan at 2:34 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


They're all stick figure decals of the two little girls from The Shining. You just can't tell, because they're stick figures.

We can tell, because they're not saying, "Come and play with us. Forever. And Ever. And Ever."

At least, not to us.
posted by ogooglebar at 2:41 PM on June 9


Back in high school circa 1988 or so, my cousin bought a "Baby On Board" sign. She put it in the back window of her car, just above a Cabbage Patch doll nailed to a hunk of wood. I still love that.

Sara C.: "So are the angel baby stickers supposed to signify that your baby is really well behaved, or dead, or what?"

Well, the one on my friend's car didn't go up until after the funeral, so, uh, the latter. Sadly.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:44 PM on June 9


Baile funk rapper Mr. Catra's stick family

(4 simultaneous wives, 26 kids)
posted by Tom-B at 3:02 PM on June 9


I actually like memorial decals, because they remind me of my childhood in a neighborhood full of memorial murals.

If you're rich, you can sponsor a music hall in memoriam, and if your dearly departed was famous, you can have a street renamed in their honor. But if you're poor or middle class, spraypaint on a wall provides a simple way to remind the world that a person much beloved to you once existed, and that they passed away far too soon. If you don't have access to a wall, car decals can do the same.

If people want to show me that their family isn't limited to the passengers in their car, but includes the people they carry in their memories, I'm happy to see that, and take notice.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 3:16 PM on June 9 [12 favorites]


(Re the Monster Energy Drink logo:) It's a serious cultural touchstone for some people.

But, like, WHY???? What does it signify? It's not kewl enough to be a clear choice someone would make, like the many Hello Kitty and Transformers logos I've seen. It's not evident in and of itself, like the many media fandom decals that are out there (I've seen the whole DC universe, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, various bands, etc). It has no obvious associations with religion or political outlook. It's not just a ubiquitous object you come across, like the many Apple logo stickers you see on cars (come free with any Apple product). And at least the Calvin is immediately obvious in terms of what is being communicated, even though it's a little weird that it's a character from this kind of deep comic strip.

If the Monster Energy Drink logo is the real manifestation of Pynchon's W.A.S.T.E., I'm going to be so mad.
posted by Sara C. at 3:39 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


i considered getting one of those license plates that donate money/raise awareness for a certain cause, because it's one that my deceased aunt was very involved with and the symbol my state chose for it is something she liked a lot. i decided that my surviving family is still a bit too raw to see it every time i parked in their driveway, but i'll probably get it some day. it's not an in memoriam sticker, but i understand the impulse. i do sort of want to tell everyone and no one in particular that i miss her because i can't tell her.
posted by nadawi at 3:51 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


Um... I've had a rainbow flag sticker on my car for over 20 years now.

But a rainbow sticker just means you support gay rights. A stick figure family with two dudes or ladies is an unambiguous signal.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:56 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


But a rainbow sticker just means you support gay rights.

No, it really doesn't. Especially not 20 years ago.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:58 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]


But, like, WHY???? What does it signify? It's not kewl enough to be a clear choice someone would make, like the many Hello Kitty and Transformers logos I've seen.

It's kewl for a subculture/demographic that you're not in.
posted by Benjy at 4:00 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I always liked the Mexican families with fuck-you big pickups who'd have huge, ornate stickers in their rear window telling you who they are and what city or state they're from. Oh, those are the Guerreros from the DF. Hi!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:00 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


But, like, WHY???? What does it signify?

They sponsor a carefully curated array of things, mostly extreme sports and bands, and have a very clear brand identity. Getting a Monster tattoo makes as much or as little sense as getting one from the Marvel comics universe or a band you love.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:01 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


It's kewl for a subculture/demographic that you're not in.

I'm not in the subculture of people who put the Deceptacon logo on their cars, either, but I could see why a person might want to do that. (They saw and liked the Transformers movies, remember the cartoons and toys fondly from childhood, it is an especially cool looking logo, etc.)

The Monster logo, as far as I can tell as just a regular person, is just one of many corporate logos. You don't see people getting tattoos of Red Bull, for example. Clearly there's some deeper cultural significance beyond "this is a tasty beverage".

Also just to be clear I'm not judging it or anything, it just seems especially cryptic to me. I'm aware that, like all brands people establish a relationship with, the idea is that it seems cool or whatever. It just seems a little more ubiquitous than one would expect, and often is tied to very expensive and permanent things, like car wraps or tattoos.

Sometimes "What's up with that?" is a genuine question and not a judgment.
posted by Sara C. at 4:20 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


re: the profiling of people by criminals based on their stick figure diagrams helpfully plastered on their SUV

in the 80's I was a child and used to go to the Jersey Shore every summer for a few weeks to stay with my grandparents. On the boardwalk in Ocean City, there was a store (I forget the name) that would do custom embroidery of your name, or initials or what-have-you on the back of any backpack that one would purchase at said store. Now, every summer my grandparents would buy me, on this Jersey Shore vacation, a new backpack for the upcoming school year. I always wanted my name embroidered on the back - I thought it would be neat for whatever reason, but my father, who was a narcotics detective in Philly in the 80's would have none of it. "ALL IT TAKES IS FOR SOME CRIMINAL TO KNOW YOUR NAME AND THEY'LL BE ABLE TO SNATCH YOU" he would say about my desire for an embroidered name.

So I never got an embroidered name. Now you can say whatever you would like about my father and his style of parenting, but to this day, I am loath to put anything on my car, back, bag, or person that lets anyone know anything about me (social media is an obvious exception), but as I grew up, and the more I thought about it, I realized he was right - it's really easy to profile people if they're just going to put it all out there for you, and not everyone who sees the back of your stupid SUV is going to be someone who remarks to their wife "LOOK AT THAT CUTE FAMILY WITH THEIR DOGCAT CHILDREN NEEEAAAT". Nope, some of them will want to snatch you right up.
posted by jivadravya at 4:22 PM on June 9


Apparently there are a bunch of weird conspiracy theories about the Monster Energy Drink logo, which I think both speaks to people's fascination with it and also might explain some of why people like to put it on stuff more than they like to put other logos on stuff.
posted by Sara C. at 4:25 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Ok... I'm totally lost. My name is not some super secret piece of information. How are SECRET CRIMINALS going to use my name (or the the fact the I have a cat or whatever) to STEAL EVERYTHING.

Seriously, this feels like complete suburban paranoia about how People are going to Use Innocuous Things to Do Stuff To You. From my experience with crime criminals are stupid and crime is of the moment kind of stuff. If you are a big enough target that people are casing you and getting to know every little piece of information about you they already know your name.
posted by aspo at 4:28 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]


The best iteration of this I've seen was a beat up Toyota with a woman and several guns on the back. Well, best/worst.

I finally got a sticker for the back of my car because I got tired of trying to get into the wrong car since I have a very common vehicle. So now I have a Planet Express logo on the window.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 4:36 PM on June 9


The larger mystery to me is how someone knowing your name makes it more possible for them to kidnap you.

Realistically, I don't think the decals actually make people more of a target than they probably already are. Most people give out their name freely when asked. Most people talk openly about their families. It's much easier to case a property or trail a person than it is to build a huge con job based on some stickers on a car.

It's the kind of thing that makes a cool scene in a movie, but would never work in real life. Maybe little Timmy carpools to soccer practice. Maybe Dad is active military but is stateside these days. They're stickers, they're not literally predictive of people's behavior.
posted by Sara C. at 4:36 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Has nobody else seen the extra classy stickers where instead of a family it's a bunch of guns? Like a daddy AR-15 and a momma pump shotgun and an MP5 and a couple of baby Glocks running around? Those are great.
posted by stet at 4:38 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Ok... I'm totally lost. My name is not some super secret piece of information. How are SECRET CRIMINALS going to use my name (or the the fact the I have a cat or whatever) to STEAL EVERYTHING.

The fear is that a kidnapper will be able to gain a child's trust by stressing him/her by name.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:40 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


No, but I have seen the one that is bigger and smaller sea turtles and says Ohana. Which is super adorable, and if I had a family and/or any connection to Hawaii at all I would totally get it on my car.
posted by Sara C. at 4:40 PM on June 9


(Calling, not stressing. Dammit, Swype!)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:49 PM on June 9


I considered getting a Planet Express decal for my car, but ended up going the contraband route on the back of my personal "rocketship". I'm probably goin' to Hell for it, but I like it.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:51 PM on June 9


No, it really doesn't. Especially not 20 years ago.

20 years ago was 1994. All either of us can have are competing anecdotes,but the number of rainbow stickers I saw in the early 90s vastly exceeds any plausible proportion of homosexuals in the American population.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:55 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Eh, I remember the "supports gay rights" vs. "is gay" rainbow flag sticker debate back in the day.

Who cares?

In general, whether the sticker reveals the driver to be gay or not, I feel like the stick figures are a little more personal. There's a difference between a symbol that implies gayness and the literal representation of "we are a family and there are two dads and a daughter and three kittens and go fuck yourself if you have a problem with it", to me. It forces you to confront the issue in a more human way, I suppose.
posted by Sara C. at 5:09 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


My favorite is the rainbow cat sticker, which I read as "I support my gay cat".
posted by NoraReed at 5:10 PM on June 9 [15 favorites]


The larger mystery to me is how someone knowing your name makes it more possible for them to kidnap you.

"SARA! Sara, sweetie, come over here -- honey, your mom was in a real bad accident, she can't come pick you up, hurry and get in the car and I'll take you to her in the hospital, she was asking for you. I'm a friend of hers, she told me where you go to school and asked me to come get you."
posted by KathrynT at 5:10 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but that's the sort of thing your parents drill into your head IS NOT OK and DO NOT EVER GO WITH STRANGERS EVEN IF THEY SEEM LIKE THEY KNOW US. I suppose not all parents do this, and I mean, sure, you never know, no matter how carefully trained, a kid could totally fall for that.

But think of all the kids who get kidnapped by someone who already knew their name, without a backpack. Or all the kids who get kidnapped without the kidnapper needing to know their name.

It seems like an odd preventative, is what I'm saying, since a criminal doesn't need to know your name in order to perpetrate a crime against you.

Certainly for something as abstract as a car decal, it's entirely beside the point.
posted by Sara C. at 5:14 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


This is why you give kids a code word to use in such situations. In our house it was "Superman". (My four year old brother picked it.)
posted by billiebee at 5:15 PM on June 9


Yeah, but that's the sort of thing your parents drill into your head IS NOT OK and DO NOT EVER GO WITH STRANGERS EVEN IF THEY SEEM LIKE THEY KNOW US. I suppose not all parents do this, and I mean, sure, you never know, no matter how carefully trained, a kid could totally fall for that.

First of all, yeah, a kid could totally fall for that -- scare them enough and all the conditioning flies away. Second of all, you asked how it would make it easier, and that's how it makes it easier.
posted by KathrynT at 5:16 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


We talked about having some kind of safe word on several occasions, but the four of us kids could never establish consensus and either way, much easier to say "don't go off with grownups you don't personally know, no matter what, EVER, we would never send a stranger to come pick you up even in an emergency."
posted by Sara C. at 5:21 PM on June 9


Stop trying to apply logic to parental fears about kidnapping.
posted by ckape at 5:21 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


stupidsexyflanders, the difference between car ads and clothes ads is that nobody's t-shirt ever ran a red light and mowed down a family in a crosswalk. a video of the coca cola car doing this would be negative branding.

But you could say the same thing about political advertising on bumper stickers, and that has caught on.
posted by John Cohen at 5:28 PM on June 9


I think the real difference is that companies aren't willing to pay people to do this.

People wear branded clothing for free, in fact in situations where the clothes aren't free, they pay for the privilege.

People put campaign bumper stickers on their cars for free, and most of the time the stickers are either free or have a very reasonable cost.

Those elaborate vehicle wraps and decal graphics come at a significant price, one which probably isn't cost effective for corporations. Especially since the idea is that "interacting with the brand" is supposed to be something the public does voluntarily.
posted by Sara C. at 5:36 PM on June 9


There's a difference between a symbol that implies gayness and the literal representation of "we are a family and there are two dads and a daughter and three kittens and go fuck yourself if you have a problem with it"

It was just such a sticker, but with two moms, that finally drove home that I'd really and truly escaped from Texas.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:43 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Whoa that is an oddly specific sticker.
posted by winna at 6:02 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


especially because they must have to update it when the kittens become cats
posted by NoraReed at 6:03 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Okay so this is my "making families" story I promised like 100 comments ago:

I had morning commercial radio on in my car one morning (I KNOW I KNOW but NPR went from jazz format to talk format so what am I supposed to do?) and it was a "classic rock" station with an "edgy" DJ based out of LA, who goes on a rant about how gay children are bad and how "tranny" parents make their kids gay and it was so shocking I pulled over and IMMEDIATELY called my local station to complain. The station manager called me back like 5 minutes later and I explained what had happened and I was like, "I don't know if you know, but 'tranny' is a pretty offensive term, and I just really don't want my children exposed to that --" and he interrupts and says, "Oh, as a gay man myself, I know it's offensive, and I definitely don't want my children exposed to that either!" and I was like, "WHITE PICKET FENCES FOR EVERYONE!" And there was a minor local to-do over it and literally every complaint the radio station got (I even got a call from the owner to apologize and he's like a 70-year-old Republican) was about how maybe that's what they do in LOS ANGELES but here in corn country we don't want our kids hearing that kind of hate speech and that is inappropriate for daytime broadcast radio where children might be listening, and some of those children might be gay, and we don't want them to hear adults sounding like homophobia is okay or mainstream, because that is not a family value and that is not what our community stands for.

Anyway, I was like, how great is it that the station manager felt totally cool telling a random caller that he's gay, and he has kids and therefore understands their parenting concerns; and that everyone in the community agreed that what was unacceptable here was homophobia; and that most of the complaints centered around how homophobia was not acceptable to be teaching children; and I hope the station manager has a stick people decal on his car because it is great that people can take such a dorky, banal expression of family and apply it to their "non-traditional" family and everyone's like, "Awww, cute family!" Fifteen or even ten years ago this would be hard to imagine. THIS IS GREAT.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:36 PM on June 9 [34 favorites]


Driving from Northern Virginia down to Georgia over spring break, I kept seeing what I thought was the same car along I-95 but then realized that there is some kind of "Salt Life" decal phenomenon going on. These things are definitely local/regional.
posted by candyland at 7:14 PM on June 9


Yeah, in South Louisiana it's all about the Fleur de Lis transformed into a stylized fish, duck, and deer. I mean, Fleur de Lis on anything and everything, all the time, but the stylized version to tie in popular local hobbies is especially Calvinerrific.
posted by Sara C. at 8:00 PM on June 9


I also miss the NYC/metro area tradition of slathering your car with imagery from whatever religion or ethnic group you belong to, whether it's Puerto Rican or Sikh.
posted by Sara C. at 8:00 PM on June 9


This is so timely. Just yesterday I saw a "I <3 Sushi" bumper sticker with one stick figure going down on the other.

Seriously and on like a Honda Civic with rims and a bike rack. I couldn't get a good look at the driver, but I was dying to know who the hell was driving it.
posted by whoaali at 8:14 PM on June 9


Man now I'm gonna be looking for family sets of fleur-de-lis when I visit my mom down in New Orleans in a month or two. Daddy FDL, Mommy FDL, and the little kid FDLs, and the tiny little FDLs with dog or cat ears...
posted by egypturnash at 8:15 PM on June 9


They probably totally make that, whoaali. Would not surprise me at all.
posted by Sara C. at 8:17 PM on June 9


Ask and you shall receive, whooali.

I actually used to love the Fleur de Lis symbol when it was just a little known historical emblem of New Orleans. Since Katrina it's on fucking everything. And yes, that means I liked the Fleur de Lis before it was cool.
posted by Sara C. at 8:18 PM on June 9


"Baby on Board" signs are really useful, however.

I've never modified my driving in response to one of those signs.

Signs that say "Radioactive Isotopes on Board", on the other hand...
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:27 PM on June 9


My favorite....
posted by wmoskowi at 9:06 PM on June 9


I love, but have never looked for it to buy it, two adult stick figures and a big bag of money.

Years ago, at the height of the "MEAN PEOPLE SUCK" trend I saw a bumper sticker that said, "NO, YOU SUCK. SIGNED, THE MEAN PEOPLE" and wanted one desperately. Never did find it, though.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 9:44 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why paying people to put advertising on their cars never got big.

That's a legitimate way to earn extra money in L.A. I looked into it years ago but they're pretty selective. You need a very late model car and have to drive a certain number of miles in certain areas, etc. but it's an easy way to earn extra money if you don't have a philosophical objection to it.

I am still baffled by why the Monster Energy Drink logo is so ubiquitous on auto body skins. For a long time I assumed they must be corporate vehicles or something, but more and more I think it's just an aesthetic choice.

Someone is almost certainly getting paid for that. (And it looks like it's advertising dollars well-spent!)

Two weeks before 9/11 I put a bumper sticker on my car that said "This Is Freedom?" It was a proud moment of counter-culture in my life. (For those that want to know, I got it from Unamerican.com - I was psyched!)

Ugh. Shortly before 9/11 a friend gave me some swag from The Daily Show, including a baseball hat that has the words "American Victim" embroidered across an elaborate bald eagle on the front and the show's logo on the back. It took me years before I wore it again, and the very first time I did an older couple confronted me about it in a store's check-out line.

I'd noticed them eying me around the store, so when the man asked me what it meant I just said, "Oh, it's from a TV show." The woman then looked at her husband and in this super sweet voice said, "Oh, The Daily Show! We know that show, don't we?" "Yeah. Bunch of pinko commies."

Fuckers set me up!! It's probably the best conversation I've ever had with strangers.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:44 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]


I just had an epiphany about the Monster thing:
It's No FearTM in drink form!
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:43 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: I live in a quiet urban neighborhood and I know 95+% of the people who go down my street after living here 10 years ... like the neighbor's teenager's girlfriend, or the kid-on-the-corner's aunt or the friend of the woman two doors down who pops over a lot to visit. Anyone who would see my kids' names on my car in my neighborhood would already know my kids' names.

In the small Midwestern city where my mom lives, the high schools give out personalized yard signs to parents whose kids are on the sports teams, in band or orchestra, etc. etc.

So there are tons of signs in front of people's houses that read:
CAITLIN                     JUSTIN
 VIOLA                       #10
                           HALFBACK
I think it's just differing mindsets that drives this particular sort of fear. In a lot of places, people expect and are happy with a basic level of anonymity, and some stranger trying to talk to you violates your sense of personal space. In other places (like the city where I grew up), people are happier when they feel like everyone knows & likes them and they know everyone, even if that's not really possible in a city.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:50 PM on June 9


A few years ago some of my friends realized that you can order stick figures and put them on other people's cars at night while they're sleeping and sometimes they won't notice for days. Much fun was had.
posted by fshgrl at 12:07 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Harvey Kilobit said what I wanted to say earlier, but couldn't figure out how to phrase.

I think there's a basic conflict in the suburban landscape, where on the one hand it's a relatively sparsely populated area where it's entirely possible to know your neighbors and understand who belongs and who doesn't. On the other hand, it's not exactly rural enough to make that feasible, and a lot of people who move to the suburbs come from cities, where safety is in anonymity. So there's an extent to which fears about this sort of thing are allowed to run riot, simply because nobody really knows how to negotiate the level of strangeness vs. intimacy.

Contact between the suburbs and the city seems like an especially ripe space for those fears to manifest, whether that's working in the city every day and being keenly aware of the different rules of the urban landscape, or whether that's the knowledge that all the bad people you left the city to escape could just get on a bus and render all this "everybody knows everybody" moot.
posted by Sara C. at 12:19 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid in Poughkeepsie in the 80s I desperately wanted a backpack with my name on it. My parents (primarily mom) refused for the weird reasons cited above. I repeatedly argued that because my first name is Russian and had always been mispronounced by anyone who hadn't met me, that would be an advantage. No dice.
posted by miss tea at 2:56 AM on June 10


This and the people who put "In Memorium" stickers on their rear window are totally bewildering.
posted by indubitable


The people I know who do that are poor people, who live in communities where a lot of young people die from violence, which is what those "In Memoriam" (spelled properly) decals typically commemorate. And yeah, why you often see them on shitty cars, to respond to other lulzy comments above.

In fact, most of the people I know with those decals are mourning the loss of a child or a sibling to suicide or murder.

So ha ha ha poor people and their dead kids and crappy old cars. Why can't they have proper obituaries in the Times like the rest of us?
posted by spitbull at 3:34 AM on June 10 [3 favorites]


The only sticker I've got in the back of my car is for the local radio station - if they spot it, you win £102! It hasn't happened yet, even though I know the guy who does the sticker-spotting lives in my neighbourhood.

It also helps when I drive to other towns. I'm a nervous driver in new areas, so having a sticker for some out-of-town radio station in the back window helps to signal "hey, I'm not from round here, cut me some slack."
posted by winterhill at 3:49 AM on June 10


Back in 1980s Texas I saw a sticker that said "Don't Shoot! I'm a LOCAL Hippie!"
posted by spitbull at 3:54 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


So ha ha ha poor people and their dead kids and crappy old cars. Why can't they have proper obituaries in the Times like the rest of us?

This is an unfair reading of my comment and needlessly strident.
posted by indubitable at 5:24 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Sorry indubitable. It wasn't meant personally and you weren't the only one laughing at something I associate with deep pain for my friends. I do apologize for the strident tone.
posted by spitbull at 5:27 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


OH HOT DAMN. I forgot I bought a Whine Whine Twang Twang bumper sticker that was waiting for my car to die!

I live in the midsouth, so I see these fairly regularly. I still need to see Doyle and Debbie preform.

http://www.doyleanddebbie.com/merch/Accessories/272
posted by Twain Device at 5:37 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


> having a sticker for some out-of-town radio station in the back window helps to signal "hey, I'm not from round here, cut me some slack."

Really? That requires a level of attention to detail that I don't have.

I have no idea what radio stations are local to me other than the two or three I listen to; if I saw a sticker for a station I didn't recognize, unless it began with a "W" I'd have no idea if it was from around here or not. Even then, I wouldn't know if you were passing through or if you moved here with your car.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:25 AM on June 10


Yeah, that's what out-of-state plates are for, but I'd never get that impression from just a bumper sticker. Heck, I've lived here for three years and I couldn't tell you a single radio designation. That's why my car has Bluetooth!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:34 AM on June 10


And yes, that means I liked the Fleur de Lis before it was cool.

so before Clovis I then

plz tell me more about your experiences in the merovingian dynasty because i am fascinated
posted by elizardbits at 8:24 AM on June 10 [13 favorites]


I love bumper stickers. I even asked a question on AskMe a couple years ago to help me choose some. I find it hilarious that people who sticker their cars are more aggressive drivers; you won't find a more mellow driver than me. I have always wondered, if you took into account the content of those stickers, what the findings would be. I mean, are the people with "Imagine Whirled Peas" and "Love Makes A Family" bumper stickers really tailgating and cutting people off?

At this point, the stickers have completely covered my back bumper and are creeping over the trunk lid. I think eventually my entire car might be covered in them, if it doesn't die before I run out of stickers I'd like to put on it. I do find people reading them in parking lots quite frequently, and thus far (knock wood) I haven't had anyone hassle me (cop or civilian) because of them.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:31 AM on June 10


I mean it probably happens rarely if ever, but if pixie-dust me can roleplay it in my head, I'm sure someone more determined to snatch a kid already has done it that way.

So it rarely if ever happens but you're sure some one has already done it?

I'd be willing to bet it hasn't happened; that no one has ever kidnapped a child by convincing the kid using details gleaned from windshield stick figures that the criminal was a family friend.
posted by layceepee at 11:25 AM on June 10


plz tell me more about your experiences in the merovingian dynasty because i am fascinated

Everything after the Quinotaur is too mainstream.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:08 PM on June 10


Yeah everything I've found so far says that no actual cases of crime via stick figure decal have been reported. Including petty "hockey playing figure = expensive sports equipment in car" sort of stuff.

I'd expect to see a higher incidence of break-ins before anything as elaborate as kidnapping.
posted by Sara C. at 1:07 PM on June 10


I'll take any number of stick figure families or Baby on Board signs any day over someone advertising their dickishness. "My son beat up your honor student.", "Don't like my driving, dial 1-800-EAT-SHIT", peeing Calvin, whatever. Life is already hostile enough.

I've seen "My girlfriend's husband fights for your freedom." Kind of another level of poor taste, in a region with Joint Base Lewis/McChord and Naval Base Kitsap.
posted by ctmf at 9:10 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this discussion but re: the in memoriam stickers... I've only ever seen them on really new cars with all sort of flashy accessories, like the spinning rims or jacked up trucks or whatnot. Until I read this thread I had always thought that the vehicle itself had been financed by some kind of proceeds of that person's passing like insurance money or some lawsuit settlement. So rather than seeing them as tied to the person who owned the car, I always sort of thought of them as being a tribute to the person because that person's passing had somehow allowed the financing of such a fancy ride.
posted by marylynn at 1:42 PM on June 12


I see them a lot on used economy cars. In fact my usual parking spot on my block is right behind a 5-10 year old Honda Civic with an In Memoriam rear custom decal. I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the fact that this random guy who died young was important to one of my neighbors.
posted by Sara C. at 3:05 PM on June 12


Measured Out my Life in Coffeespoons: "We had a deal, Kyle points out the most interesting parts of the article - the way stick figures are gendered male by default - you need to add girl signifies to show feminine. That has always bugged me. Neither the bow nor the skirt suit me. And especially not the shopping bags."

I am at this moment ordering a set of these stickers after reading this thread. The set will be, in order from left to right:I am serious about this, and when the decals arrive, I will post pictures. I love all of you.
posted by scrump at 3:12 PM on June 13 [7 favorites]


Sara C.: "I see them a lot on used economy cars. In fact my usual parking spot on my block is right behind a 5-10 year old Honda Civic with an In Memoriam rear custom decal. I spend a disproportionate amount of time thinking about the fact that this random guy who died young was important to one of my neighbors."

I've noticed here (San Francisco Bay Area) that the In Memoriam decals tend to be concentrated in the Latino/Chicano community, as do large, almost garish displays of faith. From my experience in that community, wearing your heart on your sleeve is done without irony or judgement. And I think that's a splendid thing.
posted by scrump at 3:15 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


I live in predominantly Chicano East L.A., and while I don't know that I see the In Memoriam graphics disproportionately around these parts, I do feel like there's more vehicle graphics in general happening around here as opposed to the whole city. But that might be because of class reasons more than anything else. East L.A. is very working class, and exactly the sort of working class where tricking out your car is both within your means and also socially attractive.

Either way, my favorite bumper stickers around me are the Mexican baseball team ones. More because the teams have really quirky names with accompanying fun graphics, than for anything germane to this thread. The Tomateros, and the logo is a spunky tomato! The Aguacateros, accompanied by an equally plucky Avocado! So much better than the fucking Redskins.
posted by Sara C. at 4:28 PM on June 13


This discussion really changed the way I read the "Real Men Love Jesus!" bumper sticker I saw last night.
posted by mikelieman at 6:30 AM on June 14


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