Tuesday, November 24, 2020
News, analysis and commentary by UBC Journalism students


Irony: best friend of hipsters and bigots alike

Urban Outfitters, the store I hate to love and love to hate. I can’t deny it’s a guilty pleasure. Everything…

By Amy Juschka , in Suffragette City: Gender and Pop Culture , on February 23, 2008

Urban Outfitters, the store I hate to love and love to hate. I can’t deny it’s a guilty pleasure. Everything is so kitschy it’s almost intoxicating. But I’ve always had issues with Urban Outfitters (their mass produced take on the keffiyeh, which they cleverly dubbed the “anti war” scarf, is a classic). My current beef, however, is with their ‘ironic’ (yes, there’s that word again) slogan t-shirts. Obama For Yo Mama

A fine example is the clever and original, ‘Obama For Yo Mama‘ tee (notice the fashionable use of Ebonics for the only African American presidential hopeful).

Some other memorable examples include,

the ‘Vegetarians Taste Better‘ tee (note that there is no male version of this particular t-shirt );

the ‘Shmack Captive‘ tee, which depicts a bound and gagged woman in knee high boots and a blindfold which reads, ‘Shmack’ (what does that even mean?);

the ‘Obama Says Knock You Out‘ tee (apparently the ironic Urban Outfitters take on the popular hip hop song, ‘Mama Says Knock You Out’ by LL Cool J. Once again, appropriate for the only black candidate);

the ‘Hot For Hilary‘ tee (clearly the only way to market an ‘ironic’ Hilary Clinton t-shirt is to reduce her to the status of sex object);

and, possibly my personal favorite, the ‘Mr. Pimp‘ tee (while similar versions of this t-shirt include ‘Mr. Asshole’ and ‘Mr. Stoner’, ‘Mr. Pimp’ is the only black caricature because, apparently, all pimps are black men and all black men are pimps).

Well, it’s nice to see that Urban Outfitters offers such gender and race appropriate apparel for all those politically aware scenesters.

Again in the urban scenester culture we see this tendency to believe that we live in a post-patriarchal, post-racist, and dare I say it, post-feminist society. These hilariously ‘ironic’ t-shirts simply work to further ingrain and perpetuate problematic stereotypes and…are not funny! And are not clever! I feel like I’m banging my head against a wall here!

Oh, oh, and do mine eyes deceive me? While this fails to fall into the ‘ironic apparel’ category, Urban Outfitters is selling a ‘Hilary Nutcracker‘ nutcracker! Where do those folks at Urban Outfitters come up with such witty little trinkets?

Comments


  • “Well, it’s nice to see that Urban Outfitters offers such gender and race appropriate apparel for all those politically aware scenesters.”

    – there is a big difference between hipsters and scenesters. scenesters would more likely be the politically unconscious subgroup of the two, while perhaps fooling themselves into thinking that they are in fact projecting the exact opposite.

Leave a Reply