NOTE: My bosses get bummed out if I don’t warn you when my posts contain swears, so there’s your warning.
It is not that I don’t hate the new slogan, it is just that I don’t really care enough to pile onto the tired and boring online hate-fest that has sprung up since it was announced. I guess I am just sort of indifferent.
Yes, I have seen the Portland Press Herald poll, but come on. An online newspaper poll? Surely you have seen the comments section of any newspaper ever. Giving these racists and/or trolls an avenue for expressing a hate-filled opinion on something not rooted in pre-existing, entrenched ideologies? The chance to hate something unattached to a preexisting value structure brings people together.
And no, I don’t like that it sounds a lot like the Life is Good brand, but I do like that it was inspired by the late-author and gay rights activist John Preston. And I appreciate that David Puelle Design offered their efforts free of charge.
Arguments that we should care about the slogan because it will purportedly have a significant place in business development sound okay I guess, but have you ever met business development folks? Or business folks in general? These are not the sort of people who are swayed by whether or not a slogan is creative, or sticky, or good, or palatable for that matter. On average, these are the kinds of people who wear white sneakers with their suits and still buy tickets to Adam Sandler movies. They don’t necessarily have an eye for creativity, aesthetic, and cleverness.
There are, of course, the creative business folks, but as someone who runs a creative business, I know that what ends up being a “business-friendly” draw for me are manageable rents and other resources. I also like a city that invests its resources into making life positive for all of the folks who live there. And I care whether or not there are already a bunch of cool creative things going on in the city, which there are here.
And as a creative business person, I agree with Anna Flemke, who was cited in this article as saying, “Portland has a lot to offer — it’s a beautiful city, so I was expecting more. There are a lot of creative people in this city that could have been tapped for something like this. I was kind of taken aback at first. I just think they could have done a lot better.” But outside of the slogans of Lewiston / Auburn and Las Vegas, I can’t name one other city’s slogan. I really love New York and Chicago and LA and even though it was weird, Melbourne, Florida had things I was into. Nashville is awesome! Have you ever been to Spokane, Washington? It’s the best! Were the aforementioned incentives available in these cities, I would consider moving to any of those places in a heartbeat and setting up shop if doing so were necessary for the future of our business. And I would do it regardless of their slogans. Why? Because I have no idea what their slogans are because who gives an actual fuck?
Speaking of Las Vegas, stop bringing up the Vegas slogan as an example of an awesome slogan. First of all, it more or less implies that you can get embarrassingly fucked up or gamble your life away or cheat on your spouse and no one will find out because what happens there stays there. Further, it underscores that super weird expectation. The slogan is awesome because it underscores the fact that the place is morbid and weird. You know what else happens in Vegas and stays in Vegas more than anywhere else in the country? Suicide. Their rate is double the average rate, and that’s something that a snappy slogan just can’t solve because, again, slogans, good or bad, don’t really mean anything.
Do I wish someone else came up with the slogan? Of course I do. Do I wish my friends at Might + Main, some of the most brilliant creative minds I know, were in charge of overseeing it? Of course I am. Last year, Might + Main Principal Sean Wilkinson did a hilarious talk at Pecha Kucha about how stupid and off-putting some of the municipal signage design is and he presented brilliant alternatives (now there is a thought) and it was great fun. It was thoughtful and it wasn’t reactionary and it got people thinking, which none of the stink from the past 24 hours has proven to do. But hey, the last time there was what appeared to be fake Internet outrage over what turned out to be a non-issue, an mob sprouted up to revoke the right to information access in the name of stopping an imagined threat to different right altogether so what do I know?
(Dude. Speaking of fake outrage, have you heard the audio of Rep. Lance Harvell’s hilariously / awkwardly earnest outrage over folks who receive food stamps not being required to keep receipts? Listen to it right this second.)
So perhaps everyone thinks that all of this backlash will get the city to see the error in its ways and change its mind? Or is it that really, anything goes in the self-congratulatory feedback loops that are Twitter, Facebook, and the other places we gather with like-minded folks online? Don’t get me wrong! I tend to embrace the same loops and the same self-congratulation, but for whatever reason, the slogan the city came up with that will be forgotten by this time next week because it is actually pretty irrelevant didn’t move me enough to get up in arms about.
Cities, after all, are good at putting a lot of time and effort into manufacturing mediocre solutions to what are otherwise non-problems, but there are way worse, way more expensive and offensive manifestations of that phenomenon than Portland, Maine. Yes. Life is good here.
Okay, it is a little annoying.
PHOTO CREDIT: Troy Bennett, Badass Photographer