it’s a hit

by Art Chantry:


so, this battle cry goes out to fix this problem. how do you sell pop culture to popular masses (especially the kiddies through their built-in censor board called “parents”) when you are pitching a war game to a rapidly changing american social climate? never mind the silly war mongering of a game called “battleship” (do we even use those things any more? i thought we switched to aircraft carriers) but, look at the SEXISM on that old box. at almost the exact same moment of the release of that 1967 box cover image i showed you in the first half of this essay, the ‘women’s liberation’ movement had begun. shoving mom and sis into a menial task (slavery!) position off to the ‘far right” (get it?) is definitely uncool. that really had to go and go fast.

---imagine that if you managed to collect every single box that battleship ever came in, you'd see an entire cultural history of the last half of the 20th century - all done up in subtle changes and visual language. i'll bet that after 9/11, the cover went back to full-on militarism instantly.---AC

this cover image is dated 1971 – a mere four years after the last one. now, that’s FAST! see how dramatically different it is? to begin with, it eliminates parental supervision entirely. it’s still selling to the folks (kids don’t buy these things – their parents do.) but, it shows their darling children exhibiting the newly valued spirit of INDEPENDENCE that all the hip parents are now into. this game is now a “self-actualizing” and “empowering” learning experience to help our young people grow into independent and quality adults.

please note that junior and sis are now playing it against each other. and it’s PHOTOGRAPHIC, not an illustration. that may be because photos were getting really really cheap to do in comparison to an illustration. and since you have to so carefully compose a photo, you can do endless variations all in one session – no fussing back and forth with a finicky artist/illustrator. fast and cheap and effective. like i pointed out, the client needed this asap!

this is actually at least two (likely more) photos montaged together into one whole image. you’ll note that sis isn’t really looking directly at junior, she’s gazing off to the right (again) as she shouts “G-4!”. the formerly ‘genderly superior’ junior is now in the role of the surprised (but condescending) fuddy-duddy taking the “hit” from sis. WHO KNEW?? their hair has become virtually the same – the difference is in the length and that’s about all). they’re even wearing the same outfits (with primary color differences – she’s red (passionate and ‘hot’) and he’s gold (money and power). so, even though the tables are upset, things still stay enough the same to speak to the old school parents out there (even though they don’t know that).

if you pay attention to all these changes that constantly switch around us in the marketplace, you’ll begin to see patterns of intended and subtle language/meaning. things like the new ‘jack in the box’ logo or the steady changes in pepsi cola packaging (yet it always stays the same somehow). all this stuff is about continually grabbing our attention and doing it in ways that dig in deep and make you desire the object in question. we live in the middle of so much of this stuff that we don’t see it any more. but, it’s there. always scratching at us, trying to infect us any way it can.

like i mentioned earlier in another essay, we really need to become aware of this weakness we all share – our very simian psychological genetic make-up. remember, this is an election year. too much is at stake to just ‘go with the flow’. don’t get sold yet another old product with new and improved manipulative packaging.


AC:ever wonder what the magic ingredient called “retsyn” is? (they put that in CERTS to sell us breathe mints). look it top in a dictionary do sometime. it’s “vegetable oil.”…and round-up is agent orange….oh, man! i completely didn’t notice that ‘battleship’ is also the name

a new movie coming out this week! see how subtle and nasty this crap is? i imagine the whole reason i wrote this is because of those crazy ad bombarding me on tv right now. see how easy this stuff is? monkey see/monkey do! that include ME….

…i don’t think ANYBODY really has – at least from a design history viewpoint. rob roy kelly’s amazing book on the history of american wood type is a desert island book for me. but, he doesn’t really go into that label design angle. graphic design history in american academia tends to start when the europeans come over here between the wars and introduce their european ideas/thinking into the american advertising dialog. american design work done before that point gets almost ignored. maybe YOU could research it and attempt a history? stranger things have happened…

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