Big Bathtub Buddies

Tower Bridge raised to allow duckie through. [Lewis Whyld/PA Wire]

Tower Bridge raised to allow duckie through. [Lewis Whyld/PA Wire]

A huge rubber duck has been towed down the Thames in support of a “Fundation” that will, it is claimed, grant “funds and rewards for daft ideas to encourage Brits to have more fun”. The entire venture is an advertising scheme by a gambling outfit. But, you know what, it is fun! Doesn’t that duck under the Tower Bridge make you smile?

Hofman's Osaka duck. [via twistedsifter.com]

Hofman’s Osaka duck. [via twistedsifter.com]

Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman has constructed a series of huge rubber ducks that have floated in the waters of many nations. Hofman said:

The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn’t discriminate people and doesn’t have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!

Hofman's Saint-Nazaire duck oblivious to the foreground drama.

Hofman’s Saint-Nazaire duck oblivious to the foreground drama.

Advertisers and Chambers of Commerce have latched onto the rubber duck as a lovable symbol. Rubber duck races are sometimes combined with giant rubber ducks to increase the commercial appeal:

Giant rubber duck at an Idaho bathtub duck race. [photo: Justin Hambrick]

Giant rubber duck at an Idaho bathtub duck race. [photo: Justin Hambrick]

Maybe this cheapens the image but then rubber ducks are so unassuming and silly, they resist all pecksniffish commentary about crass materialism. They just are. And they transcend any effort to make them other than themselves — no one associates rubber ducks with Vodaphone or the City of Boise or whoever that gambling outfit is. The rubber duckie is just too powerful.

Vodaphone Giant Rubber Duck Race in Sydney [teamvodaphone.com.au]

Vodaphone Giant Rubber Duck Race in Sydney [teamvodaphone.com.au]

Rubber duckies are primal images. Writing about the Great Friendly Floatee Episode, when a container of 28,800 bath tub toys fell off a cargo ship and proceeded to swim around the planet, Donovan Hohn noted:

Studies have shown that the primary colors, smiling faces, and cute animals… of which the rubber duck may well be the consummate embodiment—have the almost narcotic power to induce feelings of happiness in the human brain.

duck6So here am I, your pusher, publishing a picture just aimed at getting that endorphin to gush and make you go Awwwww. This is a photo from Amazon, by the way, aimed at selling you a rubber duckie. Does that matter? No, you are programmed to smile. Just go with it.

And let us not forget the song, the anthem for all rubber duckie lovers, which is to say everybody in the world:

duck7

Note: Donovan Hohn’s book on the Friendly Floatee event is Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author,Who Went in Search of Them

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