Happy 50th birthday, Helvetica (the font)!
How I despise you. You remind me of a slutty Aunt that dresses like a slutty teenager.
Before I argue against using Helvetica, please read my disclaimer1, and be delighted with this joke:
Two fonts walk into the bar, and the barman says, “Sorry lads, we don’t serve your type.”
Now, look look at these five posters:
What do you see?
I see Mr. Potato Head, and his bucket of lameness. Sure, you can pull out his eyes and rearrange his body parts, but in the end he’s still a potato, and he’s boring. The posters try to be unique, and fail. I can almost hear each designer, “Make this bold. Now tighten the leading. Perfect! Look at texture, look at the form!”
I want to barf.
To me Helvetica is like the Microsoft Frontpage of fonts. Using it requires as much skill as sky diving – just jump out of the plane, pull a cord and presto! To some, this is a good thing. The International Herald Tribune writes:
[the people] have become amateur typography experts by choosing our favorite styles from the fonts menus on our computers2.
Amateur typography experts?3
The BBC also chooses to celebrate the beauty and simplicity of Helvetica:
There are hundreds of choices [fonts], but many of these movers and shakers don’t take a lot of leafing before plumping for Helvetica.
Before plumping for Helvetica?4 The article continues:
“It doesn’t have an expression of fashion… it looks like a very serious typeface,” says Frank Wildenberg, managing director of Linotype, the German firm that owns the font.
So it’s seriously unfashionable. I couldn’t agree more! Leave it to Bush and Cheney to put the Hell back into Helvetica.
(Notice how the bumper sticker is bold, with tight leading. How original!) I loathe your simple beauty, Helvetica! You make any chump a typographer!
1. This discussion is as important as whether you should fold or scrunch toilet paper before wiping your ass
2. Thankfully Microsoft excluded Helvetica from Word 2007 and yet we still have Wingdings. Why, Bill, why?
3. Does this make sense to anyone?
4. Am I missing something? Again, does this make sense to anyone?
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