Sometimes the voice of dissent has to come from within, so: with the caveat that last night's march was objectively Good and the so-called "Muslim ban" enacted in the US this week is definitely Bad, with all that out of the way, with all of us aware of those two above facts, we have to all sit down cross-legged here and say: some of the signs at last night's Downing Street march really needed some work, guys.
I know! I know that's not the point! But sometimes someone has to say it! Someone has to pop their head above the parapet and take that hit full on! That someone is me! My skull is exploding to smithereens with the force of this sniper's bullet! I take it willingly, in the holy name of content!
So, I mean, on one side of the argument you have simply this: fun signs are very fun and everyone likes taking photos of them, and photos share the message, and galleries like "Funniest Protest Signs from the British #MuslimBanProtest" (The Poke) and "The People, Placards and Dogs Protesting Trump and May in London Last Night" (VICE) help keep protests and marches in the news for a few extra precious hours. So there's that.
And then on the other side of the gate you have this: the idea that fluffy sort of joke signs actually detract from the pure rage a lot of people are feeling, and that they are symptomatic of a protest movement made up largely of those who have never been moved to protest before, and that Actually Diluting Resistance Is Bad and Please Stop Making Fun of Our Terror. That sort of thing. And then, in the centre, you have me, going, "Ooh. Penmanship could do with some work. Did you start with a biro then move on to a Sharpie? Yeah. Yeah. Amateur hour, that. 3/10."
You see how signs can divide us as well as bring us together? You see? Don't you see this is exactly what they want? Well, anyway, here: let us, for absolutely no reason at all, judge the signs.
Let's start off with a softball, just to put a line in the sand; just to pelt some softballs out, to get our eyes and arms in, just to get a feel for the piece. This is a 5/10 sign: "Theresa Likes Fascist Pig" is a very clunkily constructed catchphrase, the kerning on the word "NEWS" is causing me very legitimate distress, the triple underline under "PIG" suddenly makes the sign fraught and emotional right at the end when the whole thing is being framed as a neutral news headline up until now (pick a conceit and stick to it, people!). No idea what that Trump/May printout is saying. Green tube holding the whole thing up.
So there are flaws. But also there is hope: unlike many people who unfolded their latest Amazon package and wrote on that, this protester has actually bought a large new piece of cardboard just for the march; there is clear effort, diligent colouring in on the "N", "E", "W" and "S"; the slightly-off-to-the-side printout suggests a lack of total planning, but a strong effort nonetheless. This is our benchmark. This is our halfway point. This sign is exactly OK.
HANDS TOO SMALL, CAN'T BUILD A WALL
Ah: so close; so, so close. Because, in theory, this sign is brilliant: a catchphrase often chanted throughout the night, the perfect combination of Trump condemnation (wall = bad) and ego-puncturing mockery (hands = minuscule). I've also got a lot of time for people who properly punctuate their resistance (that comma absolutely sings) and the attention to detail to ink the brick motif into the words "TOO" and "WALL" is just lovely. Great sign. Great, great sign. Sadly, I have to give it zero points because that green colour is absolutely abominable. I'm sorry! Buy better pens next time!
NO MUSLIM BAN
I think this is a really strong sign – clear, concise message, great colour scheme, eye-catching cardboard layout, beautiful penmanship to tuck that "L" in with the "I" – but also reckon that the choice to go two-handed with the sign, rather than one, probably ruined this person's night. How your shoulders holding up today, my friend? How many times did a run of like eight oblivious dudes just try and walk through the middle of your sign while you and a pal held it up? Good sign, great message, one too many handles. When backlashing against the leader of the western world we must always be thinking about the logistics.
TRUMPY NUMPTY &C.
I've been listening to a lot of talk radio to get me up in the mornings – Capital FM crew wya!!!!! Shout out to my boy Dave Berry!!!! – and as a result I now loathe the concept of rhyming, because that's what every single radio advertisement is. Ah, yes: a man slowly saying a poem about carpet. Ooh, what's this: someone reciting a poem about 50/50 wholemeal/white bread. No. I'm sick of it. Death to this. Death to rhyming.
And so sadly I have to project this personal prejudice onto this sign. I mean, it's a good sign: considered, a good metre tall, it's a big print that's been neatly glued to a larger, sturdier polystyrene backing. But it's a bit long to really read in a march situation and, sadly, I just feel that anyone who uses the word "numpty" in a derogatory way probably makes a really good moussaka and has a 20-minute argument in them about how punching Nazis is technically bad. Come on, mate. You're at a march literally opposing everything Trump stands for and has done. Cut the twee stuff and call him a cunt, like everyone else.
SWIPE LEFT THERESA
I saw this sign a few times last night, and, like, it really made me think: there I was, paused in a crowd, slightly swaying from side-to-side, looking at this sign and going: they got his age wrong. He's 70. And then: someone really got some designing done, this afternoon. They have a good printer. We are dealing with a pro, here. And then, finally finally finally, I was like: I do not understand this sign. What does this sign mean. Are… is Theresa May going to… f— you know what. You know what. It doesn't bear thinking about. I don't think international politics works like Tinder, but I did overhear two ladies asking idly aloud whether they could get this on a T-shirt. Who would wear that T-shirt, and why, I don't know, but. You know. Maybe stick it on Redbubble.
9/10 LITERALLY MADE ME THINK
HUGH GRANT WAS A BETTER PRIME MINISTER
The left will never win another war until it fucking moves on from the film Love Actually (2003). Jesus fucking Christ, lads, do you know there have been other films since.
TRUMP IS A WASTEMAN
Enjoying this for a number of reasons – actually took the time to make a hardy, cloth banner; invoking the small pocket of "you ain't a Muslim, bruv"-style likeable British culture; clear, concise message – but sadly loses half a point because of the number of times I heard someone behind me last night read it from a distance out to their mate while chuckling. I genuinely think I heard the sentence, "Trump is a wasteman. Heheh. Heh. Harvey. HARVEY! Look. 'Trump is a Wasteman.' Classic." about 60 times last night.
Nah, sorry. You Googled "Trump emoji" and printed out the fourth hit. Appreciate the effort taken to box out the sign with faint pencil guidelines so the font size stays consistent throughout, but sadly without citation this is plagiarism akin to theft, and I will be forwarding this photograph to the relevant authorities. See you in jail.
THE ART ONE
There were moments last night when I was walking through the crowds and I was transported, instantly, back to the time I used to work in an art school and tried to go to lunch at the same time as the thousands of students there – just so many multi-coloured puffa jackets, so many retro glasses frames, so much Uniqlo heat tech, so many backpacks the size of a Fiat, so many people walking into each other and not thru, so many berets, and also, for whatever reason, always some dude with a drum – and no more was that so than when I saw any placards that were art, done by an art doer or artist. I mean, this is nice, isn't it: lots of colours, the effort has gone in. The paper has curled a little, but that's what you get with water-based paint, and I kind of – really, really almost – get what it's saying. But then I'm pretty sure it's been masking taped to an Ocado box, so points lost there.
6/10 (PLEASE ADJUST THIS SCORE TO 20/10 IF BIG BEN'S HANDS ARE DELIBERATELY IN THE POSITION CURRENTLY OF THE DOOMSDAY CLOCK, BECAUSE IF SO THAT IS DOPE AND IT BELONGS IN THE LOUVRE)
WHITE SILENCE COSTS LIVES
I want to buy every single zine this gang has ever produced.
I WILL HAVE NO HAND IN THIS
Great linework, good hand pun, wonderful detailing on the fingers, magnificent serif font. Only loses points for a slightly cramped-up, definitely-added-this-one-on-the-tube-on-the-way-there addition of the #SAYNOTOFACISM hashtag. If we're judging this like a school project to make an effective poster – which I absolutely am, those are the only parameters I am judging this by – then that's what I have to pull you up on. Detracting from the message. An A, but not an A*.
Your boy's printed this out on the office printer at the third time of asking – first time it came out printed portrait when it should have been landscape, scattered across four pieces of A3; second time it printed out five times on A4; third time someone picked it up with a load of invoices before he could get to it – and, yes, the intention is there: a since-deleted Pence tweet which, in the cold light of hindsight, is really very self-sabotaging, isn't it. But also you've cropped the top of the tweet off, the blue tick is all fuck-a-do, and I count eight staples – Eight! Staples! – affixing this to a ripped up piece of cardboard, no handle or pole. Come on.
The mind of a dog is an unknowable diamond locked in a pulsating body made of innocence and gold but… like. You don't know, do you? You don't know this dog hates Trump. What if this dog is like, "I have very legitimate questions about immigration that I would like answered!"? What if this dog is like, "Gun control is necessary, a gun ban isn't!"? What I am saying is: if this dog could talk, if science made that happen, would its first words be, "I'm not racist, but…"? No. Of course not. Dogs are angels. Good doggo, would protest again.
More stuff about marches: