Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Here’s something I noticed absently but never really paid much attention to. Most people outside the developed country sphere don’t find it necessary to have brand names displayed on their clothing. Example: The head coverings worn in most of the Indian subcontinent do not boast NASCAR logos or INDIACAR, for that matter. No Tata  insignia on the turbans (pagri) or Coke insignia on the traditional Gandhi caps. The rumals--long strips of cloths wound around the heads of Karnataka farmers--are colorful and badge-free. And so, I might add, are the other items of Indian apparel: the gorgeous saris worn by woman or dhotis favored by men; the kurta, a long, loose shirt that falls below the knees and used to be worn only by men but now is considered unisex, none of these are enhanced--or defiled--by product signage. The same is true in most of Africa and in the traditional dress of the Middle East, Vietnam, Laos and a medley of other Asian countries. In the United States, it’s hard to find a T-shirt not advertising something or other. I went to a local Home Depot today and counted 35 T-shirts and 22 baseball caps, all with logos, in about 20 minutes.


Why, I wonder, do folks in the Western world feel the necessity to promote cars, sodas, teams, schools, professional affiliations and any number of lifestyles on their hats, shirts and pants?  What does having ‘Juicy’ stenciled on the butt of your sweats mean? Or a Porn Star watch cap? What does that say about us? Are we that insecure that we can’t be unaffiliated? Or is it that, well, we might be sort of dumb, since most of our logo-laden selves have no idea where these trademarks originate.


Take, for example, the beloved Starbucks siren. This twin-tailed woman with the green tail and starred crown originated in Greek mythology and is known for the songs it sings to lure sailors to their death. So basically, Starbucks has chosen as its emblematic creature a brutal sociopath whose attractiveness is designed to kill. Nice…


Another great mythical killer is Medusa, the snake-headed semi deity chosen by clothing manufacturer Versace to represent its brand.  Medusa, at one time a beautiful woman with aspirations, seduced the sea god Poseidon, thereby angering Athena, who cursed the young woman with a head full of snakes and some fangs.  Medusa lost her head--literally--which even when severed was so lethal it was used as a weapon. Oh, and Medusa’s blood turned into poisonous snakes that eventually would infest most of the world.


Trojans are synonymous with condoms. The Trojan horse is actually a container that housed a swarm of warriors who, when let loose, wreaked havoc. Do I need to go farther with this metaphor? 


Recently, I saw a man wearing a Cerberus Capital Management t-shirt, which struck me as strange.   Cerberus is, after all, nothing short of a three-headed man-eating dog guarding the gates of Hell.  This is where you want to invest your hard-earned savings?


And then of course there’s Apple, a company that chose as its symbol the fruit of the tree of knowledge.  There’s a bite taken out of the fruit, which is basically what led God to chuck the human race out of the Garden of Eden and into this harsh world. Why didn’t they choose an innocuous banana, or a coconut?


Last May, a petition at We The People requested members of Congress wear the logos of their corporate contributors.  Personally, I think that’s a brilliant idea. The vision of a bunch of Senators wearing suits festooned with symbols of the NRA, Bank of America, fast food and fried chicken franchises, logging companies, oil industry and weapons manufacturers, now that has splendid appeal. As a matter of fact, it seems to me these special interests should insist on the Congressmen displaying their company colors. After all, they surely pay them enough money.  In fact, I’d take it a step further.  I think anyone wearing a logoed item of clothing should be paid, say, a buck a day for a baseball cap or two bucks as day for a T-shirt, by the company he or she is promoting. It would create disposable income, lower unemployment,  and make us all proud to be in advertising.





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