Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Violence as fashion. It's a novel concept, or at least it was in the early nineties. Imagine, never again having to deal with the insurmountable challenges of securing a traditional bracelet to your wrist! Despite the fact that slap bracelets served no practical purpose and actually caused a moderately tragic number of injuries, we consumed them all the same. Slap bracelets were beloved by children and teenagers not just for their fashion credentials but also for the perceived danger we were warned of by parents and teachers. Slap bracelets may have seemed like the most minor type of rebellion, but they possessed the unmatchable allure of the forbidden fruit.
School principals sent strongly-worded letters home with students, urging parents to restrain their children from coming to school armed with these spring-loaded metal-lined deathtraps. The cheap cloth cover often strained under the force of the metal beneath it, poking out in an admittedly dangerous fashion. However, we weren't about to side with The Man and agree to the ban. We were passionate about our right to wear our day-glo green and zebra-striped wrist weapons, regardless of rampant urban legend-based rumors warning of slit wrists and burst arteries.
Slap bracelets were so much more than tacky arm candy. They worked as catapults, slingshots, and all-purpose weapons. And how cool to slap on a bracelet with a satisfying smack! There were endless ways to work these babies. Four at a time! Long-distance slapping! We just couldn't resist. Sitting there in class, how could you just leave this mind-bogglingly entertaining device to lay dormant? So it would be crack (flatten), smack! (slap on), over and over again until you'd earned yourself a trip to the time-out corner.
Slap bracelets have made a few minor comebacks in the last decade, but nothing on par with their original popularity. Stripping these delightful devices of their contraband qualities, slap bracelets became plastic-spring laden, pvc coated advertising devices. Sure, we were willing to acquiesce a bit in our day...give us a dinosaur slap bracelet with ruler markings down the side and we'll concede to its minor educational value. These days, slap bracelets are being used as cheap ploys to encourage kids to wear some company's logo around like a walking (gesturing?) wrist billboard. There's even been word of physics teachers using slap bracelets to teach functions of potential energy curves and states of stability, but it's almost too frightening to verify.
So let us remember slap bracelets as they were, before the world insisted on infusing some sort of subliminality to their existence: violent, neon-hued, and pure wrist-smacking fun.
Check it out:
The dark side of a slap-happy fad
US consumer panel warns of injury from slap bracelets