THE BOULEVARDIER: Hearts and smiles

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: A case for why the smiley face trumps the heart. (Even that cute Comme des Garçons one above.)

I’m just going to come out and say it: I loathe graphics on T-shirts. OK, perhaps that’s too strong, I really, really don’t like T-shirts with graphics, words, or ads for some product that I don’t consume—especially when I don’t recall receiving a royalty cheque for the “space” that is my chest.

But then, as a society of consumers, we give the world a lot of free ad space. I have an iPhone, which is shorthand for “Look at me, I’m a ‘creative’ type. Buy one if you want to be creative.” The same goes for a Blackberry—”I’m a business type etc.”

I do love images, though, and the meanings that they convey. When I was growing up, the image that I remember most was the smiley face, that simple sunshine-yellow circle and line drawing smile. Thanks to Wikipedia I know this: “The iconic smiley face, with the black ink smile and two oval dots for eyes…was created by freelance artist Harvey R. Ball in 1963 in an advertising campaign by The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts.” Neither Ball nor the company copyrighted it, so it’s one of the few images of happiness that’s actually free. I seem to recall hearing that somewhere—that smiles are free.

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