Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Racism and Fashion Collide

Apparently some entrepreneurs in St. Louis have come up with a new t-shirt design to enhance the smartest fans in the world's wardrobes. I first saw it posted at Wrigleyville23, and have seen numerous references to it on Twitter, so they are getting all kinds of free publicity. The joke revolves around Carlos Zambrano having a second career in lawn maintenance.

I feel a little dirty actually adding to the free media about this shirt, but since only a few people outside my immediate family ever actually find this site, I think my impact will be minor on the overall sales of the shirt.

While it is easy to pass this off as simply an example of St. Louis folks being uneducated hicks, Cub fans are hardly innocent when it comes to making a buck off of the cheapest, easiest jokes that can fit on a t-shirt.

I like to think I can take a joke, and I like to think I can bring the funny from time to time. I also try my best to avoid the easy joke as much as possible since easy jokes are rarely funny because almost anyone can make them. Easy jokes are there for tension breakers, fillers in a boring blog post, and the scripts for Two and a Half Men.

When the jokes cross over into the malicious and offensive categories, they certainly shouldn't be captured for posterity on an item of clothing to be worn in public.

It is why I don't understand the market for t-shirts like this:

or this

or this
or this

Seriously, why would you ever wear a shirt that says to the world that you are a racist or a homophobe?

Believe what you want, say what you want, and wear whatever hate-laced bumper sticker humor you want. It's a free country and you have every right, but do you really want to be painted in such a negative light by a dumb joke on a t-shirt?

For every rube that thinks attacks on Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, poor people and gay people are funny, there are many, many more that come to the immediate conclusion that you are wearing the t-shirt because your Nazi uniform is at the cleaners, or that your parents met at a family reunion.

People - there are cameras EVERYWHERE now. There are cameras all over the bleachers at Wrigley for security, in the hands of tourists, and on just about everyone's phones. Do you really want to get tagged in a Facebook picture wearing any of these shirts where your family, co-workers, potential employers, and God knows who else can see it?

You would prefer to turn-off the hot girl who has a gay brother, get punched by the black guy whose mother lives near Comiskey, or get fired by your boss with the Hispanic wife? You want to pay money to someone who has a third-grader's sense of humor for that kind of risk?

By the way, the depiction of Zambrano on the t-shirt is way off. He's not scratching his nuts enough.

Wacka wacka wacka.


RoundRock15 said...

Well put, there's no place for garbage like this. My first instinct, looking at the shirt, is that there's some reference I don't understand. Is it really entirely about his race? I mean, there are plenty of Latino baseball players, including the biggest star in St. Louis sports.

Besides, I mean... not that I'm condoning it, but it seems to presume that he's Mexican. I didn't think Venezuelans were known for their lawn care abilities. There's got to be something I'm missing, right?

Anonymous said...

You're not missing anything, RoundRock. What's missing is a chip from the brain of the person who came up with this ignorant tee shirt. Usually these people create what they think is a clever phrase in an attempt to use humor to justify their bigotry. The idiot who developed these shirts is so stupid didn't he or she even go that far. I'm surprised that he or she didn't just cut down on the production costs by writing "Zambrano" and a racial epithet. This is offensive and wrong and the teams should not let people wearing this trash into the ballparks. -- Seat 106

Unknown said...

If forced to choose, I'd still probably wear any of these t-shirts than anything with the Cleveland Indians logo.

SixRowBrewCo said...


That is a fair point, but the Cleveland Indians logo, while it may be offensive to some, is not intended to be offensive for a cheap laugh.

While the line may be fine and an argument for eliminating such ethnic team names cane be made, I think there is a difference when you factor in the intent of those who make and purchase Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, or Notre Dame Fighting Irish paraphernalia.

There is no justification at all for the clearly hate-based jokes on the other shirts.

Unknown said...

It's not the Indians name I'm talking about, just the cartoonish, racist logo.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that Chief Wahoo, the Tomahawk chop -- all that kind of garbage has to go. Say what you will about Dollar Bill Wirtz, but he recognized it and moved away from stuff like the playing of the Indian Drumbeat Song on the mighty Stadiuim organ and other disrespectful behavior. -- Seat 106

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