Thursday, 25 August 2011

Love locks

The worldwide fashion for love locks has become so popular that well-known tourist sights are turning into eyesores and the locks are being removed in their thousands.

The trend was prompted in 2006 by Federico Moccia's book "I Need You", in which a young couple write their names on a padlock, attach it to a lamppost and throw the key into a river to pledge eternal devotion.

He had no idea what he had started. Now there are millions of love locks in cities all over the world from Italy to Korea, China and Japan, and city officials are hopping mad at having to remove them all.

Signore Moccia* himself however has no regrets and thinks all the love locks are great. "The padlocks are a symbol of love and something to be proud of" he says. "Better a padlock than graffiti disfiguring the walls."

I don't agree with him. The love locks are spoiling the beautiful things they're attached to. All three bridges in Venice are festooned with them and they're just pointless clutter.

There are plenty of ways of showing your love for someone that don't degrade famous landmarks. And what if the couple's pledge of devotion turns sour but the padlock's still there, marking their false hopes?

To me it's simply another example of a mindless trend that people take up without thinking of the consequences of what they're doing. It's not just an amusing gesture, it's a blot on the landscape.

Call me a crusty old fuddy-duddy if you like, but I prefer the Ponte di Rialto as it was and not draped with sentimental bric-a-brac.

* pronounced Motcher. The Italian title is "Ho voglia di te".

Pic: love locks in Huangshan, China

23 comments:

Baino said...

Crusty old fuddy dudddy! The first time I saw this was in Paris, just after Adam and Amy became engaged but the locks were not on one of the lovely bridges, just a plain old steel one on the Pont Du Artes so we left a luggage lock for Adam and Amy. The authorities remove them regularly but I thought it a lovely idea and it was so much fun reading some of the dedications . . then they weren't as congested as your photo.

Jenny Woolf said...

I definitely agree with you about this Nick. It's a kind of egotism, on a par with graffiti. "I'll do what I want and sod everyone else".

There are plenty of ways to be romantic. The old one of carving your name on a tree spreads the love around lots of different trees! :)

Grannymar said...

When I first saw the heading for this post I was expecting to see locks of hair tied with ribbons! That al least would give the local bird population soft interlining for their nests. The Padlocks I find ridiculous

Scarlet Blue said...

Tut, tut, carving into a tree can leave it open to infection.
Humans just like to make mess.
Sx

Nick said...

Baino - I suppose it seemed less irresponsible when there weren't so many of them. But now the whole thing seems to have got totally out of hand.

Jenny - I agree, it's as bad as graffiti, just in a different way. Whatever happened to keepsakes and momentos?

Grannymar - Indeed, what happened to cherished locks of hair as well?

Scarlet - I'll take your word for that, though the trees I see with messages carved onto them still seem quite healthy.

blackwatertown said...

I hadn't heard of this before - I should get more - to Paris. OK, that particular Chinese example looks OTT, but it doesn't seem as bad as graffiti. I'm with Baino - kinda romantic in a rusty steampunk sorta way.
Maybe all those abandoned padlocks round London are not signs that bicycles were stolen from those sites - not bicycles, but hearts.
Awwww.

Nick said...

Blackwater - Graffiti's another controversial issue. Some people love it, some hate it (like me, unless it's actually witty or beautiful). No, I don't think those abandoned padlocks are love-tokens somehow. Definitely a token of theft or absent-mindedness!

nursemyra said...

I'd never heard of them before

Wisewebwoman said...

Whatever happened to privacy? I'm a fud-dud with you, Nick. There is one piece of graffiti I pass regularly on the highway near me. It is Barry loves Margo (stroked through with line) Jessica (stroked through with line) and lastly: Rhonda. I snigger every time I go by it.
It baffles me as to why people go to such lengths, why, I ask? Do you not trust each other?
XO
WWW

secret agent woman said...

I'm with Scarlet on the issue of scarring trees and making them vulnerable to decay and infection. Maybe the ones you see are healthy but you don't notice the ones that are now dead and gone?

Anyway, I also don't care for the locks idea which does just seem like a form of graffiti. Besides, tossing a key into the river is littering.

Nick said...

Myra - I hadn't either until I saw that article. I certainly didn't see any the last time I was in Italy (2005).

www - That graffiti you mention smacks of hubris as well. These dames weren't good enough so I dumped them.

Secret Agent - You might be right about my missing the dead trees. Good point too about all those dumped keys. Who do they think's going to collect them all up?

Liz said...

I'm with you on this one, nick.

Nick said...

Liz - Thought you might be somehow.

wendy house said...

It's an opportunity. Imagine locat authorities placing wire-frame skeletons for people to fill-out with locks, enabling them to decalre their love and feel 'part' of all the love declared by others.
Bristol city has done a eautiful job of harnessing graffiti to raise the tone of a sad looking area and make it inspiring (Nelson St.).
Balck and white do/dont discussions miss opportunties....

Annie said...

I've been to Venice AND China and I never saw anything like this. I must start wearing my glasses more often.

Nick said...

Wendy - Ah, but isn't the whole point that this is something spontaneous and off-the-cuff rather than something institutionalised? If there were designated, official love-lock sites, the whole thing would probably die a death.

Annie - I know you were in China not long ago but how recently were you in Venice? And yeah, glasses can do wonders for the whole seeing scenario.

Macy said...

I like the idea, but then if everybody's doing it, it stops being a romantic secret between the pair of you, and just another cult or fad.

Nick said...

Macy - Absolutely. Which is why I prefer more intimate and less public ways of declaring your love for someone.

Los Angelista said...

Bizarre. I don't think this has caught on here in Los Angeles--and I hope it doesn't! I agree. Total eyesore!

Nick said...

Liz - Very surprising LA isn't one of the cities affected. Yes, I hope it doesn't catch on there.

Rummuser said...

Something to physically demonstrate a totally nebulous emotion somehow seems to obsess lovers. In India, ancient monuments are disfigured with hearts and arrow diagrams with two names entwined jar as do the same designs carved onto trees in parks.

Nick said...

Ramana - Well, having a lot of experience of it myself, I wouldn't say it's a totally nebulous emotion. But I do object to such emotions being an excuse for disfiguring beautiful landmarks. And ancient monuments as you say. The last time I went to Rome all the hideous graffiti on lovely old buildings was shocking.

b0nni3 said...

thank god this hasn't caught on in San Francisco...