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Why does the "On The Road" hat largely feature a cap labelled "USA"?

USA hat as it would appear on me if I were to wear it and naturally hide my eyes in shame

Did you forget that only ~25% of your unique visitors are connecting from the USA? I can't wear this hat because it would show pride in some country unrelated to me, which makes me sad.

It seems to me that the hat for posting a question through the mobile apps could easily have been made to appeal to a wide audience.

  • 2
    inb4 hateful flaming – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 16:59
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    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Road – Oded Dec 28 '14 at 17:22
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    @Oded Yeah ok I got the reference. So the graphics are based on the name. But then why name it so? However you look at it, this entire hat is a very localised way of talking about contributing to SE "on the go". It makes me feel unwelcome. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 17:23
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    Even if "USA" were removed from the cap, it would still be a baseball cap, which is distinctly American. Both the cap and baseball were invented in the U.S. I'm American, but I have no problem wearing the mullet, which dates back to way before the U.S. was founded. – Ben Dec 28 '14 at 17:33
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    @Oded: "It's American because it's a reference to an American book written by an American about America" is still no excuse for why it should be American. – DeadMG Dec 28 '14 at 17:55
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    @Ben - "Both the cap and baseball were invented in the U.S." - Wikipedia begs to differ – ChrisF Dec 28 '14 at 18:38
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    When I read the phrase "On the Road" I think about Kerouac's novel, sure, but the baseball cap and CB radio mic don't evoke the novel at all for me. The cap could just as well have "SE" on it. – Louis Dec 28 '14 at 18:39
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    When I first saw the hat, I associated it with the stereotypical trucker culture portrayed in Convoy. I realize this is 'Americentric', but I'm curious if that part of American culture was not unique to America? (Obligatory cultural reference) – user234810 Dec 28 '14 at 19:16
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    @Ben "I try to avoid Wikipedia because of all the wrong information there" — ... why are you even on the Internet? Does this mean you avoid all webpages ever? – Doorknob Dec 28 '14 at 22:16
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    That's funny, because when we focused on making sites available to people from other countries who don't speak American you said: "Yay, more institutional segregation and compartmentalisation of knowledge! Just what we need." We made the USA hat for you Lightness -- why aren't you happy? You are just impossible to make something nice for sometimes. – jmac Dec 29 '14 at 0:38
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    I support this hat because we all need more trivial things to pretend to be outraged over... – apaul Dec 29 '14 at 2:43
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    The point is that the baseball cap is patently "Americentric" even without "USA" on the front. – Ben Dec 29 '14 at 3:37
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    The real solution here is to permit people to wear it backwards, you know, like a real 'Murican. Just sayin', y'all. – Tim Post Dec 29 '14 at 11:14
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    So far I've seen people outraged over this hat, the "russki" inference on the warm welcome hat, and religious implications over Lucia. The "I voted today" a blatant "Uncle Sam" reference which is completely USA centric, maybe you should toss some fauxtrage that direction as well? – JohnP Dec 30 '14 at 20:46
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    @JohnP: Let's just put aside our differences and play some football. – Jon Ericson Dec 30 '14 at 22:39
17

There seem to be two separate concerns:

I can't wear this hat because it would show pride in some country unrelated to me, which makes me sad.

Hats are all about having fun decorating your avatar. They aren't about showing pride in whatever is depicted in the decoration. We have hats strongly associated with Mexico, Scotland, Russia, Japan, and Brazil. We have "hats" inspired by Star Trek, Apple and Android themed hats, hats referencing dark comedies, a headband from an anime I've never watched, holiday ornaments of various types, a pair of animals, and two food items you can pretend to eat or wear.

The point is, if the hat doesn't fit your interest or temperament, if it doesn't amuse you to place it on your avatar, pick something else. (This, by the way, is the advice that folks on Mi Yodeya gave about wearing the Saint Lucia wreath.) Each year there are 30+ hats to be earned and worn. Part of the reason we have so many is to maximize the odds you'll be entertained.

It seems to me that the hat for posting a question through the mobile apps could easily have been made to appeal to a wide audience.

We give our designer a great deal of latitude when it comes to design details. For instance, my description of "On the Road" was "a trucker hat". I had a vague idea that it would come out looking something like:

Just a good ol’ hat never meanin’ no harm

But I didn't put any particular thought about what would be printed on the hat. (In sharp contrast, I specified exactly what should be on the "Handegg" helmet.) Nor did I expect that the hat would come with a CB handset (which was a perfect touch). So when I saw the result, just about the only thing I thought was "yep, that's a trucker hat". I suppose I ought to have also thought, "could we put something else on the front panel?" But the fact is, I didn't.

However, that brings up a problem: what should the cap have on it? I honestly can't answer that question because the current design perfectly stereotypes the American truck driver who (presumably) is forced to use his or her mobile device to ask a question. Obviously, it's not just Americans who love trucks, but when I think "trucker" I do think of the sort of people who would own and wear a hat with USA silkscreened on it.

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    "what should the cap have on it?" Well, clearly it should have waffles. If you would like to stick to a "clearly trucker" sort of thing then go with "Waffle House" Its the worst of both worlds. – apaul Dec 29 '14 at 6:25
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    Wait never mind, apparently Waffle House is americentric as well... They only have locations in the US. – apaul Dec 29 '14 at 6:42
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    "I do think of the sort of people who would own and wear a hat with USA silkscreened on it." Right, because you're American. Sigh, nobody's getting it. Oh well — to be expected. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 29 '14 at 12:59
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    @Lightness: Yes, I'm an American. And my stereotypical trucker is American too. What would your stereotypical trucker wear? – Jon Ericson Dec 29 '14 at 17:39
  • @JonEricson: Certainly not a cap with "GB" slapped on the front of it. We have not been brainwashed by a propaganda machine, over here. :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 29 '14 at 17:40
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit: I'm starting think you have not yet been in contact with the American hipster. – Jon Ericson Dec 29 '14 at 17:53
  • @JonEricson: Sure I have, but they don't drive our lorries. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 29 '14 at 17:55
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    Sure you have, @LightnessRacesinOrbit. Granted, it was our machine, but hey - at least you weren't left out! – Shog9 Dec 30 '14 at 21:07
  • @Shoggingthroughthesnow: Eh? – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 30 '14 at 22:31
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    @Lightness: I'm seriously tempted to use the image you posted in the question in our Winter Bash wrap-up post. It's worn with perfect irony. By the by, I did a search for "lorry driver" and it looks like they don't wear hats at all! So maybe you are wearing that hat right now. – Jon Ericson Dec 30 '14 at 22:44
  • @JonEricson: Go for it :P – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 30 '14 at 22:56
23

The comments and answers here are depressing. It's not a baseball cap, dammit - it's a trucker hat. Also, that's not a "ham radio", it's a CB handset.

Philistines! If y'all can't even get the obvious parts right, there's really no sense in trying to explain the subtleties.

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    From the Wikipedia article you link to regarding trucker hats, very first sentence: "A trucker hat or mesh cap is a type of baseball cap." [Emphasis mine.] – Louis Dec 28 '14 at 21:15
  • I thought ham radio was another word for the type of radio used in CB, so my bad. That's what I was thinking if though. – doppelgreener Dec 29 '14 at 8:45
  • @doppelgreener They are entirely different things ;P – ɥʇǝS Jan 1 '15 at 1:30
  • @ɥʇǝS Now I know this! – doppelgreener Jan 1 '15 at 1:50
12

This hat bothers me too a little, but at this point it's just a hat I'm not going to wear.

There's other culture-centric hats, but this one in particular bothers me because unlike the others, it could so easily be made not USA-centric: leave out the letters, then it's just a cap with a citizen's band radio, which isn't centric to any particular country. But by including the "USA" emblem, it has an emblem connected to ideologies I do not like, and it's a hat I'm not comfortable wearing — because of three letters that could be left out.

(Regarding comments voiced elsewhere here: caps, radios, and highways are all things other countries have, and they aren't necessarily reminiscent of the USA in particular to anyone in other countries.)

Apparently it's based on an American novel (from Oded's comment), and I don't know if it's a hat that distinctly appears in the book or artistic liberty, but the letters still could've just been left off and there'd be one more hat I'd be comfortable having on my avatar.

(Worth remembering it was also made by an artist doing it to help us have fun in Winterbash who probably didn't expect those three letters would have this impact on some of us. This doesn't dismiss the problem - I still wish the hat didn't have those letters so I could wear it, and I hope a lesson is learned for next year - but I still appreciate the intentions of its creator.)

7

I support this hat because we all need more trivial things to pretend to be outraged over...

Perhaps next year we should make waffles not war:

enter image description here

Just to continue stirring the outrage... There is in fact a Jack Kerouac Trucker Hat

  • 1
    I want that hat! – user273376 Dec 29 '14 at 6:02
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    @SabreTooth it looks like that one isn't available because it made use of a stock image, but there is a wide variety of waffle related propaganda hats out there – apaul Dec 29 '14 at 6:16
  • Hey man, we're not all outraged - I won't speak for others but for my part I'm just a little disappointed I don't get to wear a neat cap. – doppelgreener Dec 29 '14 at 8:52
4

Aside from the fact that this site was started by 2 Americans from the USA let's look at the other side of the coin.

How many hats are culturally motivated?

The answer is 15

  1. On The Road
  2. I Voted Today (Stars and Stripes)
  3. Gelt
  4. Tom O'Shanter
  5. Kofia
  6. Mistletoe
  7. Saint Lucia
  8. Stockings Hung By The Fire
  9. Aztec
  10. Naruto
  11. Red Baron (American/German Reference?)
  12. Joga Bonito
  13. Sumo Judge
  14. Treasure Hunter (Pirates make their own culture, Right?)
  15. Warm Welcome

Bonus: Time Lord (British Started TV Show) it's a stretch I know

What is my point here?

I am not

  • Russian
  • Aztec
  • German
  • Jewish
  • Irish
  • Chinese
  • Japanese
  • a Pirate

Have I complained about any of these hats? NO.

I could post another question that says

I cannot wear Warm Welcome because it is would be supporting Russia and I don't believe in the same things that they do.

or

I can't wear Stockings Hung By The Fire because I don't believe in Santa Clause anymore

Should we go further?

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    Aside from all the counterarguments I already addressed on other answers, yours seems to be attempting to make a connection between "the language of SO is English" and "SO should therefore be Americanised", on the sole basis that they speak English in the States. I don't buy that. I think you got it the wrong way around. It seems to be a complete non sequitur... – Lightness Races in Orbit Jan 5 '15 at 16:28
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America is known for its highways, such as route 66

http://www.discoveramerica.com/usa/road-trips.aspx

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Numbered_Highways

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    Highways exist in other countries. You did not invent highways. And you shouldn't be posting questions on Stack Exchange while you're driving, anyway, so I don't see the relevance. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 17:03
  • Unfortunately, find me a contradiction that shows other countries' highways are more popular. – Don Larynx Dec 28 '14 at 17:04
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    I'm not sure even ... wat. Why are roads even having a popularity contest? And why should he have to prove that a particular nation does not have most popular highways? It would be perfectly sane to just not blatantly favour any given nation. – DeadMG Dec 28 '14 at 17:06
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    @DonLarynx: What the hell?! Mate I think you have an inflated view of the "popularity" of the roads in your particular country. I can assure you, people who use highways in their own countries do not spend their journeys wishing they were instead using yours. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 17:08
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    I'm afraid that your comment is obsolete, @DeadMG. Why does a lizard appear in the chameleon hat? Why does a soccer ball appear for reviews? Why does a wig appear for sumo judge? That is just how SE made it. – Don Larynx Dec 28 '14 at 17:08
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    @Lightness that is a strawman comment. – Don Larynx Dec 28 '14 at 17:11
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    @DonLarynx The German Autobahn is more famous for having no speed limit – inf Dec 28 '14 at 17:11
  • @bamboom I believe the autobahn would be more appropriate for speedy responses, like this one, not for distance trips. – Don Larynx Dec 28 '14 at 17:12
  • @DonLarynx: None of those hats discriminate in favour of a particular group of people. This is obviously also how SE made this hat, and it's clearly incorrect. – DeadMG Dec 28 '14 at 17:13
  • I searched the web for a whole two minutes for a definition of "strawman comment" but couldn't find one. – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 17:14
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    Really? @Lightness You are an expert at C++ yet you cannot perform a simple Google search? google.com/… – Don Larynx Dec 28 '14 at 17:16
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    @DonLarynx: "Strawman argument" != "strawman comment". – Lightness Races in Orbit Dec 28 '14 at 17:22
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    Boy, that escalated quickly – Columbo Dec 28 '14 at 17:24
  • I don't even drive... – user273376 Dec 29 '14 at 5:29
  • Spare a thought for "the M1" - and that list is even missing Malawi's! – Dɑvïd Dec 29 '14 at 15:19

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