October 01, 2007

Too Clever by Half

If you've seen a trailer for Ben Stiller's new movie, The Heartbreak Kid, you may have noticed a guy wearing a red shirt that says "(1940 - 1980)".

These shirts are, apparently, all the rage. They were recommended in last Friday's Get Trio newsletter and now I see them in that movie, anyway.

The shirts are by Trong G. Nguyen and they're sold out in Brooklyn somewhere.

Humanitarians Not Heroes introduces "time-span" t-shirts that mark birth and death dates of notable artists and individuals, as well as significant events and eras in history.

The t-shirt in the movie is the years of John Lennon's life.

There's a certain geeky appeal to these shirts because the name of the figure whose birth and death years appear on the shirt is denoted on a tag that you cut off before you wear it, so unless someone already knows the years or is a good guesser (I figured out Jesus Christ, but only because it was presented to me in a list of years.) they won't know what it is. I guess this could be a good conversation starter, too.

But the hipsterish of it kind of annoys me.

It's definitely not very good design. The font is a regular old Courier -- or is it Courier New? There's nothing to them, really. All of the "creative" value in it is this whole putting the years of things. Makes one wonder if it's ever been done before. Not quite, I guess.

The name of the brand, Humanitarians not Heroes, and the description of the reason for the "design" scheme smack of relativism to me.

The numbers on each shirt represent both the specific and arbitrary. They hint at the actions and accomplishments of individuals as much as they are general reminders of our mortality. As markers of history, they consider such things as achievement, stardom, and ignominy. As just a bunch of numbers, they are vague (No where is the name of the individual disclosed except on the removable label card). It is up to us to ascribe a value to them. Here, they apply to chronological value - Time. It is numerical Time - the big dasher and parenthesizer of all things - that these shirts ultimate glorify. For worse or better.

I'm on the fence about this, really. Even if I don't like the idiotic reasons they give to explain these things, I do like the geekishness of it. I like the curiosity piquing aspect of it.

Anyway, now you know. This is me bringing you the latest in trends.

Posted by Flibbertigibbet at October 1, 2007 10:30 PM | TrackBack
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