Friday, December 3, 2010

Colbert's White Wail and a Billboard Critique

The first time I saw the Colbert Report almost five years ago, I disliked it. I don't remember if I didn't get the joke (of course I hate to admit that's even possible now), or just didn't like the fake stridency. I didn't watch it for very long before turning it off.

I still think the show is an acquired taste, and it's challenging to watch much of the time. It assumes a lot of knowledge of the pundits Colbert is parodying, as well as the events he discusses. But in a time full of outrageous stories, parody is sometimes the only possible response.

As was the case on last night's show when he took on white privilege in the context of the recent Congressional vote for compensatory payments to black farmers and native tribes.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - The Great White Wail
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

The second segment of the show focused on the story of American Atheists' billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel:

Blue billboard with white type, You KNOW it's a Myth with three kings, Mary and Joseph in manger under star
Colbert noted that the Catholic League has responded with its own billboard on the other side of the tunnel:

Red and green billboard reading You know it's real, This season celebrate Jesus
Catholic League president Bill Donohue described the second billboard as a "counter-punch" to the atheist billboard, to which Colbert replied: "Just like Jesus says, if someone slaps you on the cheek, counter-punch!"

My comment on the two signs is that the atheist design badly lags the Catholic billboard (despite their use of an all-white holy family).

Atheist billboard with design elements called out for critique
Here's my quick attempt at a design modification, ditching the Koch Antiqua font in favor of a sans serif that's more readable at a distance. I changed all the words to sentence case to simplify it visually, and made the one word they really wanted to emphasize (know) bold instead of all caps.

I've also decreased the size of the three kings and their camels to allow more room for the type and moved the star just a bit.

Revised You know it's a myth billboard

I guess the original design could have been worse, though. It could have been typeset in Papyrus.


Blythe Woolston said...

I do appreciate you cleaning up the design. The earlier mess does reflect a profound lack of audience awareness. That deficit runs through the entire message, unfortunately. As an atheist, I find the whole approach wrong-headed. Sigh.

Maggie Falls said...

I guffawed at the last line. If I had a dollar for every time a client asked me to use Papyrus and my insides clenched ...

Daughter Number Three said...

Blythe, I agree the messaging is dubious. The organization needs more professional help than just their design.

Maggie, yes! The pain, the pain.

Carmella said...

I agree. Colbert is not to my taste. I have to work too hard to overcome the cringe factor.

I think of you, Daughter Number Three, every time I see Papyrus -- which is a LOT.

Mike said...

Great Blog Grl!!! Keep up the good work.