Have you ever stopped to consider the multitude of car ribbon magnets which adorn the back of mini-vans? You know, the ones just below the “My Kid Beats Up Your Kid the Honors Student” ones.
The colors, and the causes they represent, are as varied as a bag of M & Ms (and much less fattening). For example, there’s a Crayola Box used to raise consciousness for a variety of cancers, camouflage ribbons for each branch of the military, red for HIV awareness, pink denotes breast cancer sensitivity, and even one which uses a jigsaw puzzle for Autism Awareness. All the colors of the rainbow are taken, even Brown for “Coprophilia Awareness.”
NOTE: If you don’t know how unbelievably clever that line is, Google “coprophilia.” Then, prepare to
be disgusted laugh your ass off.
Mind you, none of this is meant to denigrate any of the worthy causes for which those ribbons champion (well, except maybe the brown one. Which doesn’t exist. I hope.).
No, I’d just like to explain where the practice of affixing ribbons to trees, the outside of your house, your trunk, the elderly, etc., came from. While you may think I’m making this up (and, after reading this drivel, who could really blame you?), I swear this is true.
It was 1979 and, while everyone was dancing to that disco beat or trying to find an open gas station, the Ayatollah Khomeini whipped his followers, who hadn’t had their cups of coffee yet, into a frenzy when the United States offered to let the deposed Shah of Iran seek medical care in the Land of the Free and Home of Drive-Thru Liquor Stores. Little suspecting they would star in a Ben Affleck movie in 2012, the “college students” stormed the American Embassy in Tehran and took everyone hostage.
President Jimmy Carter was outraged. Trying everything from talking tough to asking “Pretty, please?” he desperately tried to win the release of the hostages. Including an aborted desert rescue which looked as if it was planned more by the Three Stooges than the Pentagon.
It all proved for naught until the American people deployed their secret weapon: Ronald Reagan.
All during the “Hostage Crisis,” we felt powerless. We desperately yearned for a way to pitch in and to show that we really meant business. Well, without actually putting ourselves in danger by enlisting in the military, don’tcha know. We had to go see Saturday Night Fever, after all.
So, taking inspiration from a Tony Orlando and Dawn song about tying yellow ribbons around trees until a convict came home, we all went into yellow ribbon fever. These things popped up everywhere and even hung around long after the hostages were eventually freed after the Peanut Farmer returned to Georgia to build houses for the poor.
Seeing the success of the yellow ribbons to trumpet a cause, we then took it upon ourselves, aided by Madison Avenue, to exploit all the other colors. To the extent now that, 41 years later, multi-colored ribbons, like MAGA hats, are ubiquitous American icons.
Except that brown one.
Which is a relief.
(Serious) NOTE: Come to find out, there actually is a valid use for a brown ribbon. According to Wikipedia (frankly, I’m too lazy to consult a reputable source and grabbed the first thing which popped up. Still, it seems legit): “Brown ribbons also represent anti-tobacco and colorectal cancer (hopefully not at the same time). Brown is the alternate color, dark blue is the official colorectal cancer ribbon color.”
Frankly, that dark blue thing? Thank God for that, amirite?
Still, color me embarrassed.
Well, don’t I feel shitty?