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August 3, 2007

Anti-PC Ts

Possibly the only thing more American than a deep-fried Snickers bar is a silly charge of political incorrectness. So Latinos in the US should consider the outrage at a new Macy's T-shirt bearing the phrase "Brown is the New White" as a sign that they, too, can join the hand-wringing fiesta. (You've come a long way, bebé.) Macy's has since recalled the tee, but the suggestion that Americans of Hispanic origin have finally achieved the status of whites has upset some Latinos, such as Fox's "Hispanic marketing expert" Dr. Ed Rincon. (Of course, other Latinos, including those at Gawker-esque Latino gossip site Guanabee, are reveling in their heretofore unexercised right to a cheesy ironic T-shirt.) In the spirit of righteous indignation, we hereby offer our own mini-catalog of controversial shirts.

Two Wongs
First notoriously whitebread retailer Abercrombie & Fitch outraged Asian-Americans with its ostensibly titled Oriental Collection, which includes one shirt with the catchphrase "Two Wongs Can Make It White." A pioneer in religious inattentiveness, Abercrombie was ridiculing sacred religious icons long before the Danish found it cool, placing a chubby-faced, grinning man-infant sitting cross-legged on a T-shirt, right above an entreaty to "Get Your Buddha on the Floor."

Old Voting
Like A&F, Urban Outfitters has been a suspiciously serial offender. Fortunately Puffy was around to warn our youth of the tragic consequences borne of electoral apathy, because in 2004, Urban put on its racks a T-shirt declaring (ironically, duh) "Voting is for Old People." Led by activist group mobilize.org, a boycott eventually compelled Urban Outfitters to recall the shirt.

SS Skull
Standing strong against the vagaries of public opinion just as Sam did all those years, Wal-Mart has been the place since late 2006 to satisfy all of your Nazi-insignia-stamped shirt needs. The T—which displays the Totenkopf, a skull-and-crossbones design adopted by the precursor to the SS—has been ID'd at Wal-Marts across the land as recently as this week, despite assurances in late 2006 that it would be promptly recalled.

F.U.C.K. You China
This shirt slogan, put out by high-end fashion label Phillipp Plein in July, actually makes "Two Wongs Can Make it White" look charmingly subtle. After the uproar, Switzerland-based Plein expressed its genuine surprise at such a vile insinuation, explaining that F-U-C-K YOU CHINA is nothing short of a grand homage, quite obviously standing for "fascinating & urban collection: kiss you China."

Sox Daddy
It was the fall of 2004, and Beantown was alive with a vigor not felt since Ben Affleck sat on J.Lo's balcony wearing nothing more than a bathrobe (YouTube). Even still, the site of His most masculine physique couldn't insulate Red Sox fans from the insidious prank played on them by Major League Baseball; in response to Pedro Martinez's resigned behest to "call the Yankees my daddy," the suits at the MLB devised a particularly biting repartee in the midst of the ALCS. "Hey Red Sox…" the T-shirt read, "Who's Your Daddy?" In a move terribly uncharacteristic of Red Sox fans, an outcry ensued, and the T was promptly recalled.

Wang Out
Confucious didn't say it, though Spencer's did. Four-thousand years of world-shaping cultural endowment from the Far East, and the greatest tribute paid to it by mall-chain Spencer's Gifts is a shirt declaring, "Hang Out with Your Wang Out." A mobilization of activists brought an unhappy ending to the latest company to capitalize on Asia's presumably deep well of unintentional humor; still, it's highly unlikely that this easiest of T-shirt tropes—like the fabled old man who spent his life trying to move a mountain—is going anywhere.

Related in Gelf: An illustrated guide to the history and evolution of the ironic T-shirt. And Gelf's podcasters chat about anti-PC Ts.

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- Media
- posted on Aug 28, 07

thanks for covering this

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