Pretty much everyone in Austin this week is either doing SXSW things, or really, really tired of hearing about SXSW things. Either way, there’s a question about the festival that’s gotten harder and harder to answer over the past few years: What exactly is SXSW?
What’s your license plate say? Probably just a nonsensical combination of letters and numbers in random sequence, huh? Boooring—and lacking in hometown spirit.
Listen, Texas, we should talk about this license plate problem that you have. We get it. Custom license plates are fun, and they’re a source of revenue for the state, and what’s the harm in allowing a given company/school/organization/etc that wants to demonstrate its Texas-ness by placing its logo on an official state license plate—especially if they’re going to pay for the privilege?
But, look: You’ve got nearly four hundred options now, and some of them are ugly. They crowd the actual content the plate is supposed to contain—namely, an alphanumeric that makes a car identifiable—in favor of a picture of a hamburger or a dolphin or something. Plus, not to get all design snobby here, but some of them use comic sans. Have a little self-respect.
Anyway—we’re pleased to note that we’re not the only people who’ve observed that the hoarding of license plate options going on in this state is getting a little ridiculous. As the Dallas Morning News reports, the DMV itself—along with police organizations—have started to reconsider this willy-nilly approach to license plates in our great state:
DMV board chairman Johnny Walker, a Houston trucking executive, said at the January meeting he’s noticed plates with messages too tiny to make out.
“I can’t read some of these plates when I’m driving down the highway. I’m kind of curious as to what they say… . All of a sudden, I find myself trying to tailgate somebody” to read it, he said.
Police advocates cheered the move, saying graphic-heavy plates make officers’ job harder.
“It makes it difficult for someone patrolling the streets to look at a license plate … to figure out [what it says] and to wonder if it’s legitimate,” board member Victor Rodriguez said.
The plates certainly do offer some good to the world. Most of the plates associated with non-profit organizations cost $30, with a substantial portion (usually $22) of that going to the organization the plate promotes. Others are well-designed objects that allow an ardent supporter to proudly display their affection for a cause, sports team, university, or business in a manner that improves on the visual style of the standard license plate.
And then there are monstrosities like these: