Susan's Blog

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Tail of Two Tails

This is a bit off-topic, even for me, especially given my previous (Un)Explained post. But I need to talk about Starbucks’ new logo. First of all, I never even realized to begin with that the original logo was a mermaid. I guess I thought it was just some kind of sun goddess being, because the hair is all zig-zaggy, like energy lines. The image definitely is not like the mermaids I know and love, Peter Pan’s hussies are a good example, (the ones who gang up on poor Wendy, who may have deserved it because she is just so proper! But really, they almost drowned her! But actually, you’d expect a little salt from a gal who has to spend her days swimming deep underwater.) Another great example of the beautiful, strong-willed mermaid is Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid that I talked about here a while ago. I don’t really like Ariel in Disney’s version; she is too much like Barbie: good to look at but doesn’t offer much otherwise. Besides, who would give up their voice for a man?? Or for legs?

Anyway, I was having coffee with Emily, and having a great time catching up on our book projects, when she turned her cup towards me and showed me the new Starbucks logo: the splayed-tail mermaid. She laughed about how a mom in her PTO would not let them use the cups at a fundraiser because of this! Plus, her breasts are almost visible under her hair.

Wow, I nearly horked my grande decaf breve misto. I totally love the new logo! She is based, apparently, on a 15th century mermaid drawing. She is fantastically not modern; she has a belly and a heavy tail section. She is definitely as real as the Dove women. Good for her! A little dash of reality for all of America’s coffee drinkers who are probably entirely too used to the nipped and tucked females shown everywhere in the media, but practically nowhere in real life.

Still, I wondered what was with the splayed tail? It turns out that she is a siren, not a mermaid: and sirens have two tails! I wonder what the story is behind that… I’ve heard of being two-faced, but two-tailed?


I was researching a favorite poem of mine “A Drunken Man’s Praise of Sobriety” by Yeats, which contains a mermaid reference, and I found some analysis that said mermaids where a symbol of idyllic but asexual female beauty – because they obviously lacked the correct equipment (for primates anyway). Perhaps the splayed tail was a corruption of this idea. Given the siren’s role as I understand it, it seems likely they would need to at least fake being sexually available.

— added by Pete Lyons on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Thanks for the interesting research. But I have to ask, Pete: why introduce the notion of “faking?” Because they were essentially teases, who lured men to their deaths? So interesting!

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 5:20 pm

That was my guess. But it was only a guess.

— added by Pete Lyons on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm

Now, Pete, aren’t you a fisherman…?

— added by Susan Senator on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 5:43 pm

“Besides, who would give up their voice for a man?? Or for legs?”

I don’t know. But if you find her, please tell her that I’ll marry her in a second.

— added by Don on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 6:13 pm

It’s actually going back to their (her?) roots: That’s the original Starbucks logo.

— added by adamg on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm

As Adamg said, it’s the original. As the coffee chain got bigger, more people were offended by the logo. So they changed it to look more acceptable or appropriate. The idea of the their symbol being a tease is interesting…Starbucks lures you in, and then you are hooked. I’ve spent more money than I’d want to know there. For a while, their pumpkin scone was one of the few things my son would eat. We’d call ahead to make sure they had some left, and even have them hold it for us. The tantrum if they didn’t have the scones was just too much to risk. One of my sons most reliable first PECS was the Starbucks logo. I wonder if he’ll object to this new one??

— added by Anonymous on Friday, April 11, 2008 at 1:12 am

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