Hollis and friends model his "protest-dappled" sweatshirts. May, 1963.
In 1963 an entrepreneur conceived of a way to promote antisocial tendencies and profit from it. Charlie Hollis, a 37-year-old copywriter and Brooklyn College sophomore, printed up stickers that bore messages such as LOATHE THY NEIGHBOR and KICK A PUPPY TODAY. He then placed an ad for his misanthropic product in the Village Voice
"KICK A PUPPY TODAY," "Litter," "Pray for War," Stamp Out Whooping Cranes" and 27 more protests against Constituted Authority and dogooding readers- digestism. Set of 31 stickers superb for defacing monuments, peace marchers, bad folk singers, mail, Little Leaguers.
Hollis's product struck a chord with readers, and he soon began receiving orders not only from American consumers but also from disaffected souls as far away as Brazil. Pranksters placed his stickers everywhere. Time
magazine reported on an "epidemic of sick stickers now appearing in public and private places all the way from San Francisco to St. Thomas."
Hollis reported that the idea for his product originally occurred to him at Christmas. He was quoted as saying, "I had heard Silent Night
thousands of times, and all that happiness made me nauseous. I couldn't stand the avalanche of goodness."
Because of the success of the stickers, he subsequently added "protest-dappled" sweatshirts and t-shirts to his product line. Messages included: BLIGHT A NEIGHBORHOOD, OVERLOAD YOUR WIRING, UNDERPRIVILEGE A CHILD THIS WEEK, TRIP A SENIOR CITIZEN TODAY, and MAKE THE ONE FOR THE ROAD WHISKEY.
However, the "Kick a Puppy" campaign proved to be a temporary fad. No information is available about Hollis's career after 1963.
During the 1970s, displaying misanthropic messages once again became popular because of the punk movement. Today numerous retailers sell antisocial merchandise. For instance, Despair.com
offers a line of "demotivational" merchandise that includes posters and t-shirts with messages such as "Dreams are like rainbows. Only idiots chase them." and "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups."
Links and References
- "Fads: Spreading the Bad Word" (April 26, 1963). Time.