KEEP CALM. JUST KEEP CALM.
I don’t need to be told to drink wine, get a cat, visit the lake district or eat a cupcake. If anything I need to be told to keep calm. Just keep calm.
Incase you hadn’t figured it out yet I am talking about the fad of imitating the classic ‘keep calm and carry on’ poster in an ill-suited manner. You know, on fridge magnets, tea towels, mugs, condoms and club night flyers.
The Keep Calm and Carry On message was originally produced in 1939 as a motivational poster by the British government. It was intended to raise the morale of the British public, in preparation for the Second World War, and to maintain our trademark stiff upper lip approach to life. Clearly it worked as the war was won and we get to enjoy our freedoms today.
I’m all for a motivational poster with a simple bit of typography and a strong message. And when in 2000 reproductions began emerging, I kept my eyes out for examples of this classic piece of design. That was until the phrase became so diluted from its original purpose that it has become more associated with giving messages a British slant. But for commercial gain than to spur on the war effort.
Nowadays, I keep an eye out for it in the most unfitting of places. Especially when used overseas; examples such as encouraging customers to eat that classic British dish of tacos in Paris or to promote mulled wine in a Cuban themed bar in Krakow. Clearly the original intention of the message has been lost completely.
However, I am a big fan Modern Toss’s take on the quote, ‘Buy more shit or we’re all fucked’. It actually hangs on my wall, only because it’s so ironic and has nothing to do with me really wanting one of the original posters! Honest.
Here’s a few examples of the quote being misused.
KEEP CALM AND DRINK WINE – Tea Towel.
KEEP CALM AND SELL BIRTHDAY CARDS.
KEEP CALM AND EAT OUR TACOS – Paris.
KEEP CALM AND VISIT THE LAKE DISTRICT – Notebook.
KEEP CALM AND DRINK MULLED WINE – Krakow.
KEEP CALM LOVE KLUTE – Durham (this one can’t misquote correctly).
BUY MORE SHIT OR WE’RE ALL FUCKED – Modern Toss (available here).