I gave my 1981 Rolling Stones T Shirt to my daughter, a wise thing to do – not because I am wise – but because it was blindingly right. Wander any street in Britain, and no doubt the United States, and you see the same thing: fat, middle-aged men in iconic T shirts advertising their youth - The Beatles, The Stones, Iron Maiden, Bowie, Lynyrd Skyrnyd, Black Sabbath, Led Zep. The list is endless and so are the idiots. I’m not saying middle-aged men should don cardigan and slippers. I wouldn’t wish that on an octogenarian, but equally why wear a tombstone to youth? Rock and Roll is a state of mind, not a T shirt.
It’s part of a process, insidious, ubiquitous – expressing individuality through the corporative brand. Joining a herd. There is honesty in branding a cow, brutal though it is for the cow. Man is master of creation so we brand what is ours.
We brand what is ours.
What does that tell you about those who willingly advertise Budweiser and Coors, Pepsi, Coke, Jack Daniels; those who market the various tourist board T shirts or ageing rock bands? Do we give a stuff that someone’s been to the Grand Canyon or Oxford? Are we going to have a meaningful conversation on the particular logo advertised? At least the old fashioned Sandwich-Board man got paid for his trouble, and returned the Board when his shift was done.
At least, too, you can give the T shirt away. The Stones may be corporative buccaneers but their music stands and a piece of antique ephemera should be worn by the young – until they, too, decide to give it away.
But what about Tattoos? Do I really want graffiti on my body – even a Banksie? And what about those weird people, who have the blue, esoteric squiggle just below their neck, that others can see but they can’t?
When I see tattoos, I think of steers newly branded, numbered people, the categorised, prisoners.
And then there is Face Book, the ultimate Sorting Hat. Here we strut, preen and display, assuming falsely that we are in control – we display what we want to display - unaware of how in doing so we self-categorise ourselves for hidden algorithms and predatory marketers.
The world will not end in a whimper. It will end in one prolonged Moo.