Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fresh Tragedy

T-Shirt Hell doesn't waste any time. Here we have a couple of hilarious-in-theory takes on the obvious topic, along with one that is a bit older but actually probably more deserving of ridicule, and a more subtle shirt.

Another new shirt has a familiar ring.

Same idea, basically. Their version may have a point, though, since shirts are arguably funniest in stores. Once you're wearing a shirt, it's already substantially less funny, and you go around self-consciously waiting for someone to laugh and compliment you, and that is so lame.

Looking at T-shirts inspires my own T-shirt ideas, since they all grow out of my own love-hate relationship with funny shirts and the self-loathing that comes from being attracted to them. I strive to stay one layer of irony ahead of the current generation of T-shirts. Trouble is, shirts by now are so far gone into the never-never land of self-devouring irony that the observer can't tell the difference between one meaningless ironic shirt and the meaningless parody that comes out of my head.

The alternative is to shift back into literalism and take direct potshots. The inverse of irony is utter sincerity.

New shirt idea: "My T-shirt is clever so I don't have to be."

Another shirt that mocks other shirts! Still, maybe the point of reference is too direct. This hits wiseass shirts, but not fake-kitsch shirts, which are the more despicable target. A T-shirt that fails to be funny is less loathsome than a shirt that is too cool to be funny.

When T-shirt Hell's shirts are funny, it's because they are so tasteless they go beyond the shallow, phoney shock value of other shirts. The problem is you can't wear something so tasteless without actually becoming an individual with no taste. Just like it would be funny to buy one of the vulgar shirts they sell along Venice Beach to wear ironically, except that they are so crass they negate irony. Once you're wearing a shirt comparing women to having a beer to taking a shit or whatever those shirts say, you are no longer above anything. You are just a guy in an awful shirt. Also, Venice Beach shirts are ugly shirts, as opposed to the flattering sizing and bright colors of phoney vintage.

T-shirt Hell's shirts are based on meanness, which to me holds up much better than simple vulgarity. Obviously they have the vulgar shirts, too, but to me those are the less-funny ones.

I'm totally rambling now. I meant to just post the links to the shirts.

1 comment:

matt said...

But where's the role of sincerity in all this? What if I really *do* support single moms?