The girl sitting next to me wore a black tee-shirt printed with funny cartoon skulls and a torn collar. The girl walking across the library wears a wolly bobbly hat with a knitted skull stuck on the front, where I would have put a flower, butterfly, or nothing at all. In kiddy clothes’ stores, there are reams and reams of cute t-shirts and trousers for little girls, decorated with sparkly pink, black and white skulls. Skulls on female clothes and accessories everywhere. I’m almost expecting to see babywear with skulls, and perhaps there are some out already, only thankfully I’m not noticing baby clothes, any more and ever again.
Once upon a time, first time I was doing the university thing, skull fashion were for the “Goths”, together with tons of black make-up, including and especially black lipstick. Nowadays, every other pretty little Goldilocks has some sort of skull motif.
Another fashion I don’t like or understand. Who do these cutey girls think they are, Hamlet? What is this obsession with death?
Actually, I’m beginning to suspect a deep morbid streak in Canadians, which is not just a hangover from Halloween. Take the radio advertisement for an organization called “M.A.D.D.”- Mothers Against Drunk Driving. It’s supposed to promote awareness of drunk driving, founded by, I presume, a mother who lost loved ones to fatal car accidents. So far, so good. The other evening, we were in tha car and the radio was on. In the midst of the usual gabble gabble of ads for incredible car deals and unbelievable mattress sales, there was a moment of silence. Then a quiet woman’s voice declared in a ghostly tone: “I am dead”. Silence.
The princess gasped and slid down in her seat. Unfortunately, she had picked up the words for “dead”, “death”, “skeleton”, and “ghost” within two days of attending school. Then the woman’s voice continued: “I have been killed in a drunk driving accident. My two children were in the car with me, but they were uninjured. Now they are growing up without me. But I am always watching them. Always. Always. Watching. Them…. ”
Come on now. Was that really necessary? Why not have anti-war campaigns with ghost soldiers proclaiming the idiocy of war from the other world, or anti-smoking ads with voice overs from dead lung cancer victims? Aren’t there some standards of good taste for ads? Not to detract from the worthiness of their cause, but that ad was distressing- and for the wrong people.
There was another series of ads I saw on the subway every day in Toronto, several years ago. They were posters of hideously scarred or maimed young people, who had been injured in work-place accidents. One had a vat of boiling oil spill over his body whilst working in a restaurant. The other held up a hand with a couple of fingers missing – a construction accident. Another once was in a wheelchair. They had big quotes printed on: “The Next Thing I Knew, There Was Blood Everywhere.” “I Could Hear The Sounds of My Screams.” And then: Don’t Let This Happen To You – Insist on Workplace Safety.” OK, OK, I muttered to myself, traumatized by staring at these posters every morning and every afternoon I got on the trains. The main effect they had on me was to wish I could run away and hide myself and never ever go to work anywhere. Skulls indeed. Give me fashion model anyday.