Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Helvetica-ca-ca-ca-ca!

With a knowledge of films that is notoriously scant, there are a multitude of 'classic' motion pictures I've yet to lay eyes upon and perhaps never will. This is thanks to my stance that film is largely an overrated medium, particularly when originating from Hollywood. However I am delighted to report I have recently been to see the film 'Helvetica', which is the name of a typeface (rather than a name for a fictional posthumous kingdom for sinful veterinary practitioners guilty of crimes such as calling hamsters nasty names, spitting in the faces of kittens, and using puppies' heads as pin cushions). Since its inception in 1957, Helvetica has spread so far and wide that it is the ubiquitous font of our time.



The film documents the history of the typeface and its widespread use around the globe, featuring interviews with all the hottest names on the lips of the typographical fraternity. It offered a window to the secrets of the industry and the torturous process of designing a typeface. Uniquely fascinating stuff. The blurb in the cinema literature posed the appetising question: "Is it fascist or socialist; pedestrian or inspired?" Discovering the answer to this quandary alone was enough of an incentive to attend. Although, for some reason, the question was never answered in the film. Regardless, I have arrived at my own conclusion that Helvetica is a decidedly fascist typeface and should be resisted by all. Its domination of the typographical landscape - it is used for the logos of an unfathomable number of global brands/high street chains - is akin to the ruthless globalisation enjoyed by the likes of McDonalds; spreading characterless uniformity worldwide and generally getting where it shouldn't. Clean cut and modern, Helvetica is regarded by many typeface pundits as the all-time typographical zenith. What nonsense - I regard it as dull, immoral and despotic. If we're not careful it will drive other good, honest, hard-working typefaces like Verdana and Tahoma from the marketplace. I hereby declare an official Never In All My Life-endorsed boycott of Helvetica. You won't find any of it on this page.

5 Comments:

Blogger Gez said...

I started a post about this film months ago. It never got published as I didn't see the film as I had intended. S'posed to be good, like.

December 05, 2007 10:37 pm  
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