Friday, January 29, 2016

I Can Draw That: WWF's Scratch Logo and the Doodler's Mind


In November of 1997, The World Wrestling Federation changed their corporate logo to reflect the new "attitude" branding. They unveiled the new logo as part of their "try lacing my boots" campaign, reflecting the 90's obsession with "extremity," shock TV and a desperate attempt to secure a silver-bullet creative campaign to whoop their Atlanta-based rivals in the Monday Night ratings war.

Perhaps unknowingly, the company followed the oldest art-punk mantra: the best logos are those which can be reproduced with in any medium and with relative ease (i.e. a stick n' poke tattoo or spray painted beneath a freeway overpass.) Wrestling lore dictates that in one of those fabled writer's meetings between Vincent K. Mcmahon, Pat Patterson, and whichever creative cronies were on good terms with the Fed, someone hastily drew the logo on the side of a frosted beer mug with their finger. The rest is, as they say, history (or...fodder for a 10-part, marginally accurate docu-series on the WWE Network).



I shan't warble on the 90's wrestling boom or the famed Attitude Era. There's many before who've done it better. What I will say is the profound impact that scratch logo had on me as a 5th grader in suburban Kentucky. It was the first WWF logo I could accurate copy without a protractor and a knowledge of color theory and as much as I love that classic chrome logo, I just wasn't in possession of the artistic chops to make it a hand-drawn reality. Like punk, the proletariat genre that brought electrified rock n' roll to the disaffected masses of Thatcherite England and Reaganite America, so too did the Fed's new user-friendly insignia appeal to the lurid fancies of a budding adolescent hesher. "I can draw that," I thought. 

So I did. I drew that shit everywhere. On my desks and notebooks. On the bottom of my skateboard. In the dewey condensation of the family's Dodge Caravan. It was like a brand I could incorporate into myself. See "Attitude" was a concept I could get behind, even in the leafy expanses of a middle class existence, and this colorful world of pro wrestling promised a wealth of intellectual and creative fodder for my torrid mind. 



This scratch logo (and the programming behind it) promised a reckless abandonment of a stodgy, traditionalist past, rattling old-schoolers and conservative journalists to their gooey foundations. This "attitude" campaign leaped forward with the gleeful and irreverent spirit of one-upping the competition and car-crash entertainment and for all that negative press it got regarding its mysogyny and redneck ideologies...it all finally had a damn logo I could draw.
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