We follow news about T-shirts. We are in the T-shirt business. That we should follow such news is a small part of how we roll. But lately T-shirt news seems to be all bad news, bad manners, and bad taste.
Remember when we landed a space probe on a comet? Maybe not but you do remember the “shirt storm” caused by the pin-ups t-shirt worn by one of the scientists involved in the Rosetta Mission. And then there was that whole ‘meninist’ T-shirt backlash. Meninists are men airing (or in this case printing) their grievances with feminism. Kurt Cobain’s suicide note found its way into print on a T-shirt. And just this week, the New England Patriots, even after their exciting victory, embarrassed themselves recently en parade waving tasteless Ts.
We recognize that the T-shirt is the personal billboard, and thus will always be political, but must it always be controversial?
Desmond Tutu writes in his book Made for Goodness, that the reason the news is so full of bad is that we react to it because it is such an affront to our true nature. He describes our nature this way: “We are made for goodness. We are made for love. We are made for friendliness. We are made for togetherness. We are made for all of the beautiful things that you and I know. We are made to tell the world that there are no outsiders. All are welcome: black, white, red, yellow, rich, poor, educated, not educated, male, female, gay, straight, all, all, all. We all belong to this family, this human family…” It is beautiful. And it is true that we take notice of things outside of this sphere of beauty because those things are so very different from ourselves.
While the Reverend may not be an expert on T-shirt design, he does know something of human nature. Bad news (and often bad taste) gets our attention. If a Google search for T-shirt news is any indication, controversial T-shirts get more air time than the sweeter T-shirts that say things like “Support Girl Scout Troop #32” or “The Smith Family Reunion.”
Maybe the prevalence of tasteless T-shirts will cause its own backlash in beauty and beautiful T-shirt design? Maybe it already has. We like to think so.