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« Diebenkorn, Dubrow | Main | Fact for the Day »

May 02, 2008

What'll They Bracket Next?

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Long-time readers might recall that Michael has this, er, thing regarding typographical brackets in advertisements, editorial layouts and so forth. Like [this] {sort} (of) stuff. His first salvo on the subject can be found here.

Ah, but now the bar has been raised. Behold the following snippet from an advertisement for EliteJets, a business jet chartering firm:


Over to you, Michael.



posted by Donald at May 2, 2008


I'll play pundit on this one.

EliteJets, to judge by this picture, is overwhelmingly concerned with mountains and serene villas. Their business may be providing fuel guzzling, ozone destoying luxury travel to the very wealthy, but that part of their biz is so minute that it takes a pair of brackets to bring it to our attention.

No need to feel guilty, you gluttonous rich wastrels, because you can barely pick that jet out of the sky without the aide of the brackets. It's almost a footnote.

Shades of the algore, who circumnavigates the globe in private jets to warn the rest of us that global warming [er... make that "climate change"] threatens us with the End of the World.

Surprisingly, the U.K. Telegraph reports today: "Global warming may 'stop,' scientists predict."

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on May 2, 2008 11:03 AM

That's hilarious. If brackets there are to be, why not be a little creative about 'em, I guess.

Hmm, I guess my cultural musings on bracket-mania boil down to ...

1) Brackets seem cool because they're derived from computers. Coding ... Video games ... That sense of going inside the head of the Terminator and seeing through his computer eyes ... And graphic designers are always grabbing at what's cool. Being lazy yet resourceful, they grab what's in front of them -- their own computer screens. They don't use their tools to make elegant user-centric things. They make their products look like their tools.

2) Designers seem to feel they're in the business of highlighting things. Everything has to pop. Everything has to be boxed. Everything has to be heightened somehow -- maybe by having an arrow pointing at it, maybe by having brackets slapped around it. And they aren't going to stop until they've highlighted everything. Nothing's routine, everything's special. And bracket-mania is a part of that general idiocy.

It all leaves me feeling a little perverse. Hey, how about turning down the volume? Hey, how about being appreciative of the normal? Hey, how about appreciating context and background, and letting go of the mania for highlighting? When everything's special, nothing's special, it's all just loud.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2008 11:32 AM

When I saw that picture, my first thought was not "brackets", it was "viewfinder". Which is kind of funny, because unlike FvB, I have next to no interest in cameras.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on May 3, 2008 2:52 AM

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