Keep Calm. The Poster Equivalent of Herpes.

Pass the Valtrex.

It was pre-war 1939. The British monarchy, in the event of an invasion (turns out they were right) sought to boost public morale.  Since the internet didn’t exist at the time and they couldn’t viral post pictures of kittens hugging to every British citizens’ Pinterest pages, the government resorted to the next best thing. Posters.

This wasn’t just any poster.  No, Bon Jovi was not present and there was no one dancing on White Snake’s car. Not even Pamela Anderson in all her… um… glory would appear on this poster.  Instead, an unknown designer (who is now rolling in his or her grave) coined a simple five word phrase meant to be a sort of hug from the King. Keep Calm and Carry On.

Fast forward about sixty years when one of only two known copies of the poster surfaced in a second hand bookshop in Northumberland.  Seeing that copyright had expired (dammit) about a decade before, the owners, innocently enough, sold copies of the poster. Turns out between 2001 and 2009 some 40,000 copies were printed and sold.

Let’s not get out the pitchforks just yet. Actually, maybe you should dust them off because at some point people stopped Keeping Calm. You got it.  I’m all for a version or two but somewhere, someone thought that changing it up a little and using most of the words from the Oxford English Dictionary (and some that might not have been appropriate for the OED) they could make a little spending cash.

Keep Calm and Call Batman

Keep Calm and Potter On

Keep Calm and put Bacon On (a personal favorite)

Keep Calm because I’m Legal

The list goes on and no, it doesn’t get any better.  The question is who the hell took what was a great example of War-time British propaganda and turned it into the Herpes of the graphics world?  Seriously.  I think we’ve seen more versions of this poster than were meant for human consumption. You know that somewhere, six feet under British soil there is a graphic designer turning in his or her grave. Poor soul.

Do you think he (or she) dies a little every time someone “thinks” up a new version?

Anyway, readers, dear readers. Keep the original; burn the rest. Enough is enough and like the newest “Shit *insert boring person here* Says” fad, this one needs to die a quiet death.  No more Pinterest pins of “Keep Calm and Go Shopping”.  Erase “Keep Calm and Fake a British Accent”.  Kill the “Keep Calm and Plan to Marry Harry”.  Actually… send me a copy of that one first THEN you can burn the rest.  Cause Harry is a hottie.

I’m stepping off my soap-box now.

Images via Wikipedia, MareleGenius in the Making

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14 thoughts on “Keep Calm. The Poster Equivalent of Herpes.

  1. maddiesplace says:

    I’m sitting here like a fool laughing out loud, quite loudly every time I read your blog! I just love it and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for the chuckle, er, crack up!! 🙂

  2. maddiesplace says:

    Reblogged this on maddiesplace.

  3. Jen says:

    I had an entire post based on my loathing for these fucking posters. That being said, I do have a blood-splashed one that says “Keep Calm and Kill the Zombies”. It gives my cubicle that little touch of class.

    • dcoopsd says:

      I figure we all have one that we kinda fall in love with so it’s almost a double edged sword of sorts. Kinda like Herpes. There’s that one night…. HAHAHA!

  4. Carrie says:

    Well, now I kinda feel like a jerk. Cause I kinda like it.

    However, THIS is friggin awesome!

    “Since the internet didn’t exist at the time and they couldn’t viral post pictures of kittens hugging to every British citizens’ Pinterest pages…”

    Right about there is when I lost it…hy-ster-ical!!

  5. […] ok… yes, I posted the diatribe Monday about those damned Keep Calm and *please shoot myself in the foot* posters floating all over every […]

  6. modernmaggie says:

    Ha ha this is so true. Every time I see one of these posters now, a little bit of the designer inside me dies. Worse still, check out where you can customise your own keep calm poster with any pointless saying you like 😉

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