Monday, April 22, 2013

Why are so many U.S. state flags terrible?

I wish I could say this is the worst flag in the country,
but two dozen other state flags give it a run for its money.

Flags are icons of whatever they represent. When you see a flag, you should immediately be able to tell what it stands for. It's strange that the United States, one of the flag-wavingest countries in the world, has so many subpar state flags.

From afar, do you have any idea which state's flag this is?
If not, it's failed as a flag.
Why? Roughly half the states in the country have adopted the "boring state seal + bland navy blue background" format for their flag. Some state flags even have the name of the state spelled out on them, defeating the entire purpose of having a flag to represent them. Think of the state with the most proud residents of all: Texas. It's one of the few states to produce a decent flag. This is no coincidence; if you care about your state, chances are you've given it a good flag.

There will always be a few exceptions, but the North American Vexillological Association defines a "good flag" by five basic principles:

  1. Keep it simple. The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
  2. Use meaningful symbolism. The flag’s images, colors, or patterns should relate to what it symbolizes.
  3. Use two or three basic colors. Limit the number of colors on the flag to three, which contrast well and come from the standard color set.
  4. No lettering or seals. Never use writing of any kind or an organization’s seal.
  5. Be distinctive or be related. Avoid duplicating other flags, but use similarities to show connections.
You've already seen Wisconsin and Idaho, but they're hardly the only culprits. Let's take a gander. Do these flags evoke the spirit of their state? If you're from one of the states on this list, do you feel a passionate connection to your state flag? If you stand a few feet away from your computer, can you identify any of these or tell them apart from one another? Some of these might be nice if I were judging state seals. But I'm not. They're supposed to be flags.

Delaware. Bonus points for a slightly different color.
Bonus points taken away for the big ol' date at the bottom.
It's white! But it's also terrible.
The state seal is actually quite nice. But the flag isn't.
At least you can tell what state it is. But if they have to
put the name on it, it's defeated the purpose of being a flag.
Nebraska. At least the seal is bigger than most others!
Nevada. I almost want to like it because the logo is off-center.
New Hampshire
New Jersey. Ooh, buff-colored!
New York
North Dakota
This one would actually be a good flag
if they took the name off the bottom.
The only state flag where the front is different from the back.
The back looks like this.
Pennsylvania. Those dark horses and dark eagle
on the dark background really pop.
South Dakota
Utah. This one's fun because it has
not one, but two different years listed on it!
Virginia. It's edgy! It's got an exposed boob on it!
Too edgy for the state's attorney general,
who tried getting it covered up
Washington state. At least it's green.
West Virginia, with a nice picture-frame look.

1 comment:

  1. I've actually got a future article planned on the Canadian provincial flags!