Update [May 29, 2012] This blog post is my most popular post of all time, with nearly 7,000 views as of May 29, 2012. Since writing this post and receiving some very enlightening comments, my opinion on the Keep Calm posters is not as harsh. I still believe that there are some very crude and offensive variations of the original poster, and that people who own Keep Calm products should know the origins of the poster, but I don't think it's neccessarily wrong to own Keep Calm products. I've left my blog post un-touched and un-edited, but wanted to post a little update for anyone reading this.
I'm sure that you've seen this phrase pasted on pillows, coffee mugs, book marks etc.
There are tons of variations of the saying now. Some are cutesy like Keep Calm and Go Shopping, or Keep Calm and Drink Tea. Some are plain awful like Keep Calm and Drink On.
After seeing this saying in multiple stores and websites, I started wondering where this saying came from. I'm now here to educate you on where "Keep Calm and Carry On" came from.
The phrase "Keep Calm and Carry On" appeared on a poster in Britain in 1939, during World War II. The poster was meant to encourage and lift the spirits of the British people during such a devastating and frightful time for the country. This poster received only little distribution during its publication, and was relatively unheard of. Until now. The poster was discovered in 2000 and re-distributed as various decorative items.
When I first discovered the origins of this poster and phrase I was deeply saddened. Most people that purchase a product with this slogan have no idea that it was developed to encourage people during WW2, people that were afraid that their child's school would be bombed, that their husband or son would be killed in action, or that they wouldn't have food or shelter to protect their families.
It's devastating to me to think that we are buying these products when our daily problems are relatively insignificant compared to the daily issues of a British citizen in 1939. I also feel like these "new versions" of the posters are poking fun of, or at the very least, trivializing the original meaning of this poster.
Perhaps others will consider that my reaction is too dramatic. That it's simply a poster that has brought some fun into our lives. How would you feel if a poster that was published for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, or the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti, was being used as a decorative item in the homes of people 50-years from now? That there were disgusting variations of this poster even. What is most saddening is that many people don't even know where this poster comes from, or the history of it.
What are you thoughts about "Keep Calm and Carry On"? Did you already know the history of the poster? Is this your first time hearing about it? I'd be interested to get some feedback on this.