Monday, January 27, 2014

In Which Sheila Goes On Another Rant

This time about branding. I'm going to spare you my thoughts on Beyonce at last night's Grammy awards, because you already know what I think about singing pole dancers who think they are strong female role models but in actuality enjoy playing into male porn fantasies because they know that's where the money is plus it makes them feel really hot but jeez already let's be honest here about what we're doing because I don't think they have the slightest CLUE how hard they make it for regular girls.

Ahem. Moving on...

Cast your eyes up to the photo. I took this photo a few weeks ago at a store I happened to be in with Eldest Son, who had just had a birthday. For his gift I had promised him access to my credit cards for a limited time frame, and he was taking advantage of this in a local mall. As is usual with these sorts of expeditions, he was in the change room while I hunted for things for him to try on. Why he can't find the stuff himself perplexes me greatly, but he refuses to admit that he actually DOES this, even when I point it out rather, err, pointedly, so we remain at a vaguely pleasant, if somewhat odd, familial impasse.

Then I happened upon this table. It was covered with items of every day clothing that resembled pajamas, and when I looked closely I discovered that they were in fact pajamas, but pajamas that were meant to be worn not in the privacy of one's bedroom, but outside. On the bus. At school. In the coffee bar. They were outside pajamas. My Jane Austen soul quailed a bit but I soldiered on, until, that is, I glanced up and saw that red sweatshirt. In case you can't read it, I'll tell you what it says: BOOBIES MAKE ME SMILE. Yes, that IS what that says. And yes, that item of clothing IS meant for an adult. A grown up person. If the mannequin is anything to go by, this is a man's sweatshirt. I must have stood there gaping for a few minutes, because a clerk sidled up to me and asked if I wanted one of them for my son to try on. "He'd rather die than wear that," I said incredulously, "what grown up uses the word BOOBIES?" The clerk looked uneasy. "Umm, someone must, I guess," he said. We regarded each other for a second or two, me thinking about the vagaries of bad advertising and getting sucked into said bad advertising, and him no doubt wondering how to avoid me while I remained in the store, asking awkward questions.

So I did what I thought most appropriate in the situation. I took a photo of the offending item with my iPad mini and showed it to Eldest Son when he emerged from his cubicle. He too was suitably repulsed, but had the good sense to tell me to google it for further information. "These people are nice," he remarked, "but they're pretty clueless. Look at the t-shirt that guy showed me." He showed me a t-shirt that had SEX AND GUNS AND ROCKNROLL MAKE ME HORNY on it. Granted, it was a charming shade of green, but I didn't feel either of us could do justice to the slogan. I returned it to the rack, while Eldest Son made his purchases.

Then I went home and googled the slogan. To my shock (and dismay), it was not simply a puerile, infantile, stupid, juvenile, cringeworthy OR creepy slogan with little thought and intent behind it. Nope, it referred to a Facebook page in support of cancer. The site was selling rubber bracelets with slogans like F*CK CANCER on them, too. People said things like "these are insanely funny." I'm not going to link to the site. You can do that on your own. I AM going to say that I think this is, while likely done with good intentions, a Really Bad Idea. It's never good to use anger to fuel a movement of this sort. Anger has its place, but it's not here. At least, I don't think it is.

Besides, who in their right mind would wear a sweatshirt that has the word BOOBIES on it? Wait, do I really want to know?


Anonymous said...

That sweatshirt is dreadful. Aside from the fact that I can't think of any man, young or old, who would willingly and happily wear it. I'd be interested to know how many they actually sold. A sense of what's appropriate and what's not seems to be disappearing quickly.

For what it's worth, I've had some parents look at me like I have two heads when we've ordered the kids' 4H and curling jackets, because I always specify the name to go at the top back of the jacket, rather than across the bum. I don't need anyone looking at my daughter's or sons' bums for their names, thank you.

I don't think I'm going to tell my kids about that thing you do with access to credit cards for a limited time frame.


sheila said...

I'd like to know how many they sold as well. It's quite repulsive, isn't it? I was quite disheartened when I saw that someone had labelled them "hysterically funny." I guess they probably also think all those videos of people getting hurt while playing sports, or brides sliding off tables, or grooms smooshing cake into their new wife's face, are similarly hilarious.

No, I don't think you should tell the kids either, but if you do, add that we always have 'previously-agreed-upon ceiling' when using that credit card, just in case. And the sales after Christmas were almost as good as the sales in the US BEFORE Christmas, so it was easy to thrill his greedy clothes-horse heart.

Heather said...

It really is sad. Just trying to imagine actually meeting someone wearing that shirt...would be So Hard not to comment.

And, since I know you have a sense of humour and since I also know you like British television presenters, I can't help but comment that the Only grown up allowed to use the word "boobies" should be David Attenborough. ;-)