BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Billboards in Alabama are a curious mix of the crassly commercial and deeply religious, often side by side.
For instance, we saw “Go to church or the devil will take you” next to a billboard advertising a BBQ restaurant chain. Or “It’s your choice, Heaven or Hell” — where Heaven was depicted with blue skies and white fluffy clouds, while Hell was all fiery flames – shared space with a billboard for gas station with cold beer.
Alabama is firmly within America’s Bible Belt, an area dominated by evangelical Christians where church attendance is very high. Thus it seemed odd that religious messages would stand so close to an advertisement selling earthly wares, as the two seem to be somewhat at odds with each other.
But that was nothing compared to the two-sided billboard we saw a mile or so from downtown Birmingham.
On one side a poster cheerfully proclaimed that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” a reference to the fact that Christmas is less than six weeks away. A picture of a piece of holly was included to underline the poster’s festive, family appeal.
But on the other side was an advertisement for Hooters. For those people not familiar with this chain of bar restaurants, it is best known not for its food but for the physical attributes of its largely young, female staff, who wear tight white t-shirts and snug-fitting, uber-short shorts. A group of these young ladies adorned the advertisement.
The contrast stopped us dead in our tracks. Two messages were worlds apart but stood back to back.
We’d be curious to know what other people think of this combination. Is it just us who find this double billboard extolling the virtues of both Jesus and Hooters striking?
Photo by Carlos Barria