Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I feel a compelling need to apologize to my male readers for starting this week off in such an exceptionally girly manner. I promise that when the mood strikes, I will write about something fist-poundingly masculine, but for now, I have a serious urge to document the adorable way a kitten looks when trapped in a high-top sneaker. So for the moment, please bear with me; just understand that this bear will be a painting panda wearing overalls.
It's a pretty well-known fact that young girls will ooh and ahh over adorable animals unprompted. Actually, as an adult I must admit I occasionally indulge this need as well, but the appeal of psychedelic coloring has faded significantly. To a child, however, aesthetics are key. In many ways, children are naturally materialistic and superficial because their brains have yet to develop to their full potential in the critical thinking/empathy departments. They need no explanation for why something has value, and they have an aching need to make their peers jealous. In short, they're a marketer's dream.
If you were at least vaguely femininely inclined and desired any sort of non-shunning in your elementary school years, you knew that stickers were the key to your social survival. As long as you owned them and traded them fairly, you were in. But God help you if you even considered unsticking it from its original backing for any purpose outside of regulation-grade sticker-booking it. That was the height of sticker sacrilege, and your status on the sticker social circuit would undoubtedly plummet from such amateur sticker collecting behavior.
Lisa Frank was so much more than stickers, though. It was, if such a thing could possibly exist, a school supplies empire. I'd like to find out which ad agency they used, because truthfully their marketing bordered on transcendent. Although these acid-trip colored animal splattered folders and pencils could essentially sell themselves on visual merit alone, they managed to convince us that we wanted, nay, needed, the entire collection. Just watching this commercial brings me back to a time when my determination to collect every available piece of Lisa Frank merchandise was unquenchable. Also, I owned the spokesgirl's hat in both denim and black velvet.
Collect them all, indeed. Let us briefly explore the products of the warped minded designers whose drug-induced color scheme choices and whimsical animal worlds captivated children everywhere:
Ballerina Bunnies. Graceful, garlanded rabbits who appear to be performing complicated on pointe ballet in a meadow. I will concede that this is probably their natural habitat, but I want to know for whom they are performing at dusk in the wilderness in full costume.
Painter Panda. For some reason, the people at Lisa Frank insisted time and time again that motor skill-deficient cuddly critters possessed some great capacity for artistic expression. Or maybe one of the designers was just especially skilled at rendering paintbrushes.
Hip Hop Bears. I could not actually ascertain their official LF names, but this substitution will certainly suffice. May I just say that those are certainly some hardcore musical ursedaens. I especially like the way that one on the left in the sweet piano shades is rocking the one-strap-on-one-strap-off overall look that so many of us were so fond of. And of course, we all know the true emblem of being legitimately hip hop is emblazoning the phrase on any available patch of fabric.
Roary and Friends. In this drug-addled designer's tripped-out mind, polar bears and puffins frolic together on the candy glaciers in the psychedelic- sparkly rainbow night sky. The puffins seem pretty ambivalent to the relationship, but Roary is giving us a mix between "get-me-out-here"and bedroom eyes.
Love-expressing penguins. Children of the 90s didn't need Morgan Freeman's soulful deep-voiced documentary narration to learn about penguin monogamy. We learned the virtue of penguin love from our trapper-keeper covers, thank you very much.
Hunter. That's a pretty bad-ass name for such a lovable log-hugging little cuddlepuff superimposed over a sparkly/traumatic LSD-experience background.
Hollywood bear. Enough glitter to make a disco ball blush. He seems to be conducting something, as Hollywood-based bears are wont to do.
I have also recently discovered that unbeknownst to me, I am a Lisa Frank character. I curse the people at Lisa Frank for not granting me this type of playground leverage as a child, but also applaud them for recognizing that my parents did not just make up my name as many people have rudely suggested.
Looking at Mara, the Lisa Frank character, is like looking in a mirror. Well, a very poorly tinted fun house mirror if the 1970s and 80s had thrown up on my body and hair respectively. And look, she dislikes bad vibes! My god, it's like they can read my mind. Actually, it looks like she can, as apparently she is slightly psychic.
While I may not have been able to bask in the glory of an eponymous Lisa Frank folder-gracing character, I was pretty content to settle for my hugging penguins and house-painting pandas. If they could hypercolor it and slap the image on a pencil or a party hat, by God, we would be there. And if you could somehow procure the largest and best character-featuring stickers, well then, you just about owned recess.
Check it out:
Lisa Frank Online
Lisa Frank MySpace Skin, for those of you who are into that kind of thing
Buy Lisa Frank Stickers Online