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Gnomes in Tales and Media
By Sidney Shuman
Garden gnomes have existed as a form of decoration since the Renaissance. Gobbi was the name of the first gnome designed for decoration and the traditional garden décor has made its way across the world since. Now as a symbol of kitsch and nostalgic culture, the gnome is easily made iconic in pop culture. The most recognizable garden gnomes over the past few years have been seen in Travelocity commercials, the movie Gnomeo and Juliet, and fairly strange postcards.
In Travelocity commercials, a garden gnome is personified going to many different locations around the globe. He is known as the roaming gnome. His ridiculous British accent adds an element of fun to a seemingly mundane website. A gnome is safe to use in the advertisements because they have a light presence and are easy to recognize as a simple symbol.
The movie Gnomeo and Juliet is a 3-D animated movie made by Kelly Asbury that follows the plot of Romeo and Juliet, only using garden gnomes as the characters. The movie was released in 2011 and uses the gnomes to appeal to children and make a classic tragedy much lighter and easier to understand. The fact that gnomes were chosen over any other folklore characters to replace humans in this movie goes to show garden gnomes’ general happy and kitschy reputation keeps them a marketable symbol is today’s society.
The postcards that have been surfacing with garden gnomes give them a reputation of smoking and using drugs in their forest homes. Postcards such as these have surfaced in small shops across the United States and an example is seen here:
Although tarnishing to the garden gnome’s pristine image, these are hilarious cards that one can purchase in many odds and ends shops across the country.
From commercials to movies to strange postcards, garden gnomes still have a fun presence even after about 400 years of existing. Their reputation continues to be mysteriously funky and unexpected and they are sure to be seen in more forms of media.