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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Friday, November 18, 2005

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, But Screen Print T-Shirts Hurt Worse Than Anything

Last week a brewing controversy got my attention. What I'm referring to is what will surely go down in history, earning its rightful place among scandals such as Watergate and the Iran-Contra hearings. This is, of course, the Abercrombie & Fitch T-Shirt scandal of 2005.

Just in case you missed the boat on this one, here's an actual news article that will serve as a precursor to my recap. Done? Good. Now for my thoughts.

First I thought you might want to see more of the actual t-shirts in question. So for you I have Exhibit's A, B and C.Protesters are particularly outraged by the negative and stereotypical messages these t-shirts send. As a long time fan of screen print t's however, I have to disagree.

Sure I've been out somewhere, probably at a bar, where I've seen a shirt once or twice that caused me to pause and say "Oh no they didn't!" But really, that was out of amusement, not offense.

No, the real humor to me is coming from the naysayers themselves. They are offended by the message of a t-shirt that says something like "Blondes Are Adored, Brunettes Are Ignored". But there are girls that can and will buy these t-shirts, no doubt some of them blonde, but some of them brunette or even redheads. It all depends on the way you look at it. A confident blonde might see it as a way to celebrate their state of blondeness, while a brunette might see it as a way to acknowledge of her constant state of "Hey, look at me-dom!" As a blonde myself I have heard years of dumb blonde jokes, some of which, no doubt, have been printed on tee-shirts or key chains or something, somewhere.

Which brings me to my next point. It's not like this is anything new. Have you walked the boardwalk of the Jersey shore? (or other boardwalks of the nation perhaps). Some of the things you see there are offensive and I'm not just talking about the tee shirts. One time I saw a t-shirt that said "Silly Rabbit Dicks Are For Chicks". Now that I could understand getting a little upset over, but just a little. You could also just walk into any Spencer's anywhere in the last 20 years or so. Every race, creed, body shape has been subjectified and objectified. No one's safe at Spencer's. And if you're offended? You simply DO NOT shop at Spencer's. It's a simple as that! There are people who are frustrated at the exact opposite. Some cars sport bumper stickers like"My Child Is An Honor Roll Student At Rydell High". Did the same people Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirt buying crowd object to this? No. They simply went out and made their own bumper sticker, "My Child Beat Up Your Honor Roll Student". Now that my friends, is funny.

And let's look for a minute at the people who are buying these t-shirts. I mean really? What is the target demographic? My guess is it's somewhere between 12-21 although at 28 I still enjoy purchasing a good screen print tee or two. Often times they boast pop culture references to everything from Animal House to Animal from Sesame Street. In fact, if I had oodles of extra cash I'd probably buy a lot more of them. I own quite a few already. God knows I'm always in hot pursuit of a Swedish Chef tee-shirt.

So with the target demographic in mind, let's explore imagine for a bit that screen print tee buying is the worst vice they have. I mean you're 15 and you own 20 screen print tees, half of which are "offense". But let's look at the alternative. You're not a cutter. You're not using hard drugs. You aren't stealing. You might pierce something or die your hair black, but for the most part it's a phase. And you might even shop at stores like Hot Topic which in my mind, are far more scary, in theory than any overpriced, stone wash denim boycut jeans Abercrombie & Fitch could throw at me. In fact, Hot Topic has a line much more extensive in its range of insults in various shapes, colors and sizes. But no, these protesters would rather take on GAP's bastard child, Abercrombie & Bitch I mean, Fitch. Woops! There I go, offending someone! Next thing I know you'll be telling you can't play rock music or dance in your town. No wait, I'm confusing real life with the plot of Footloose again.

In short, these tee shirts or tee shirt wearers are not out to offend anyone and even if they are, so be it. It's called having a sense of humor. The protesters should try one of those on for size. Perhaps something in a one size fits all, baby blue.



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