New license plate design is not good

By CLARK HICKS,

I really do not like the new Mississippi car tag. You’ve seen it by now. 

The rusty brown- colored aluminum rectangle with a faded state seal not properly centered on the plate. I can’t help but wonder who designed such a boring and ugly representation of our state. We have a history of prolific and creative artists, bright minds, and top notch graphic designers, and yet a first grader could have conjured a better looking car tag.

From the turn of the 20th century until the eve of WWII, Mississippi plates contained the year of ownership, the state name and a specific number. Then, in 1940, the state added the county name of the car owner’s residence. The simple and elegant design is now a collector’s item.

In 1976, a large green magnolia graphic appeared in the plate center, followed by the iconic Biloxi Lighthouse in 2007, and the legendary Lucille blues guitar in 2012.  

Mississippi, as the tag correctly proclaimed, is the birthplace of American music, and B.B. King was the ultimate worldwide ambassador, promoting Mississippi for decades.

Each change over the years reflected a logo and slogan distinctive to our great state. 

That is, until now, when Governor Bryant guffawed and glad-handed folks in an awkward press rollout of the sterile and utterly forgettable tag pronouncing, “In God We Trust.” 

Yes, most of us do trust in God. 

My Lincoln copper penny says so too, as the phrase is our national motto and has been so since 1956. 

But, I don’t comprehend the elegance of a tag that looks like it needs a cleaning, does not match any vehicle color, and has a symbol of a bald eagle, our national bird. 

Tell me what is “Mississippi” about the new plate, except the country laughing at us on the highways of our nation at the "Band-Aid" hued license plate, reinforcing the stereotype that we are a bunch of unoriginal simpletons.

From what I understand, we are stuck with this tag for five years. 

If you multiply the number of times a day you see this tag, times the days in the year, times five years, then you are reaching at least 100,000 looks at yuckiness. 

This, for me, translates into hours of dismay, disgust, and disappointment. 

My hope is that some talented person who loves Mississippi will step up next time and design a car tag which makes us proud, one that might cause someone to walk up to me on a road trip to Arizona and say, “That is one cool tag.” 

I know that people will disagree on art, but I have yet to find one Mississippian who likes their new "golden tan" or "bronze" tag, a color which not even state authorities can define. 

So, in the meantime, while I wait for another five years, I’ll keep my personalized plate and be thankful I don’t have to pay 800 bucks for bad art. 

 

Clark Hicks is a lawyer who lives in Hattiesburg.  His e-mail is clark@hicksattorneys.com.