The film, “Helvetica,” frankly scared me.
As Lupton notes “words originated as gestures of the body.” That’s all well and good. In fact, it allows us to feel more rightfully connected to the world we live in. Sure, we are still constantly inundated with typed media, but if we can honestly tell ourselves that a part of us, in the most broad “species being” sense of the word, remains in those strokes, letters, words and messages, then I suppose we can get on with our lives relatively shamelessly. I know I do.
Yet realizing that Helvetica is so universal that I barely recognized it — that I saw it and acknowledged it as “normal” without second, much less third thoughts, frightened me The idea of some pervasive norm in anything scares me. I personally feel that objective assessment of anything from people to print should be done through a relative lens. For Helvetica to dominate in the way that it has was a bit of a wake-up call.
It doesn’t mean that Helvetica is evil. I just have trouble trusting something so everywhere and so technically flawless. I get that it is a great font. Yet knowing that myself and millions of others thoughtlessly digest it daily makes me wonder if we are losing some humanity in such a norm.