The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Arts September 15, 2006

In a Post-Poster Era, Issues of Poster Subordination Still Remain

Just a week ago on a cheery Thursday morning, I set out to Wilder Bowl to investigate one of the most wildly popular commodities found on a college campus: posters. 

I know, I know, bringing you the top stories every week is certainly no easy task. But as a serious writer of The Oberlin Review, one who guards her journalistic integrity with a poison-filled dart pen, it is my duty to sift through the less desirable scoops to bring you what you really want to know: What is the deal with posters? 

I think we can all agree that living in the post-post-modernist, post-art, unapologetically apologetic material age of the present, posters are intellectual fodder well up for grabs, and I just happen to have first dibs. In other words, I am about to drop some mad-ill prototypical poster theory that’s good for your mind and body, baby.

In order to find out what spurs students in such large numbers into instant embrace of this pricey (relative to a lunch at DeCafé) good, I went straight to the people for answers.

“My room has a lot of blank walls and I needed something to make it more fun,” one student said, voicing what seemed to be the overwhelming consensus on why students buy posters.

I was a bit shocked by this response, as there were no other examples of poster pastimes commonly associated with college students.  For example, no one mentioned staring at psychedelic posters for long periods of time while under the influence of mind-altering substances, nor did they mention the caressing of posters while experiencing the effects of such substances. 

No one referred to any of the methods of sensory molestation to which posters are subjected on a daily basis (i.e. undressing with the eyes, smelling, etc). In fact, while some students stated that certain posters could indeed be “fun,” virtually no students said in what way they would derive such “fun” from the posters, beyond the cryptic, coy remark that they were using them to “decorate” their rooms. 

And despite Oberlin’s reputation for being a freewheeling, liberal’s paradise where people bask in the decadent glories of relativism, answers to the question “Are posters art?” ranged from the moderate “sure” to the extremely conservative. 

The majority of students replied that only poster prints of “art” could in fact be considered art.  Shame on you, Oberlin, for refusing me the privilege to call the black and white poster of Johnny Depp I have taped to the wall above my bed a work of art.  We all know he is God’s gift to heterosexually-repressed teenage girls everywhere. Take my Depp, and you take my freedom!

Anyhow, when asked whether it is possible to choose a mate based on their poster selection, the majority of students who were asked responded with a definitive “no.” However, there was a substantial minority who did not completely dismiss a poster’s role in a fledgling relationship.

“Possibly, depending on what state of mind I’m in,” one student answered, while another said, “In terms of a one night stand it would matter.”

Another student conceded, “It could sure help.” 

Due to the number of people who agreed that posters could in fact play a role in the choosing of a mate, it seems reasonable to conclude that posters do have a small, if marginal, role in natural selection and the future of our species.

To all you biology majors, it might make an interesting study to see if those who do in fact discriminate on the basis of posters yield genetically superior offspring (or just children with unhealthy predispositions toward Van Gogh prints). 

Other interesting surveys, such as whether Bob Marley or Bob Dylan looks better on the wall, yielded a pretty evenly divided campus.  However, when asked to choose between Tupac or Biggie, very few people were willing to state a preference, usually because they did not consider themselves familiar enough with said artists.

All in all, a nice autumn morning spent on Wilder Bowl chatting with the general public of Oberlin has given me a greater sense of what posters are and what attracts students to them in the first place. 

The students I talked to that day convinced me of the challenging yet life-affirming essence of posters. I will forever hold deep in my bosom the steadfast conviction that posters are an integral part of the college experience. How you want to “experience” them is up to you. 


Powered by