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Category: Weekly Kitsch

Weekly Kitsch: Another T-Shirt

I promise not to do this every time underground/subversive imagery is appropriated by a corporation and sold to a mainstream audience. Last time I looked at Forever 21’s decision to sell a copy of a T-Shirt Kurt Cobain wore during a 1992 SNL performance. This week, Disney began selling Joy Division inspired T-Shirts (seen above).  Read the rest of this entry »


Weekly Kitsch: Starbucks Blonde Roast

“I have so many cookies,” she told Gary, who was washing his hands fastidiously at the kitchen sink. “I have a pear that I can slice, and some of that dark coffee that you kids like.” – Franzen, The Corrections


It was a cold day. The first official day of winter had long since passed, but this was the first actual day of winter. People who live in the Midwest know what I’m talking about. It’s the kind of cold that causes the body to clench any and all available muscles. Only the heavy layers of clothing–and shame–keep me from rolling up into a ball.

Anyway, it was cold and I needed coffee. I’m not entirely sure when I first heard about the new blonde roast coffee at Starbucks (or, The Blonde, as I’ll be calling it). It might have been a television ad; a newspaper article; or maybe a tweet. Regardless, I can only assume it was the result of some sort of Gladwellian there-but-not-there marketing innovation.

Epistemic concerns notwithstanding, I was curious to try it. Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Kitsch: Incomplete Wonderland

David Gray, reporting for REUTERS, recently took a trip to an abandoned and unfinished Disney-style theme park “Wonderland” outside of Beijing. The nuclear winter sky, the people tending to crops inside abandoned structures, the crumbling not-quite-done facades, serve to create scenes that are straight out of a Cormac McCarthy novel. Spend some time with the slideshow.

Weekly Kitsch: You’re Old

What does it mean when an object loses its referent? The Flipper T-Shirt above is currently for sale in Forever21 stores, but the design is borrowed/stolen/appropriated from Kurt Cobain. 

As the story goes, shortly before performing on SNL in 1992, Cobain found a marker and quickly doodled the Flipper design on a T-shirt (itself an homage to the hardcore punk band Flipper):

It is not surprising at all that a clothing store for hip young consumers is appropriating a design from a dead rock star. I was, however, completely surprised to see that Forever21 chose not to make mention of Nirvana or Kurt Cobain at all: “A crew neck tee with sketched ‘Flipper’ graphic at front.”

And then it dawned on me: I’m old. And so are all the other bloggers freaking out about Kurt Cobain’s Flipper T-shirt. One must remember that your typical 16 year old Forever21 shopper (born in 1996) would be about as familiar with Kurt Cobain as I was with the band Flipper in 1992. In other words: 30 year olds in 1992 were probably pissed that up and coming rock star (read: sell out) Kurt Cobain was wearing a shirt with a hardcore punk logo on Saturday Night Live. Flipper fans were, I’m sure, uninterested in the bizzarre irony of it.

And so to are we uninterested in the irony today. We snark the existence of the shirt in order to protect ourselves from the inevitable truth that culture, once so in love with us, is passing us by. And ultimately that’s what getting older is: the pain of seeing beloved childhood objects reappropriated without care or concern for our own childhoods.

Weekly Kitsch: Budweiser Has A New Can

They gathered not in anger but in celebration of their having found, as a generation, a gentler and more respectful way of being. A way, not incidentally, more in harmony with consuming – Franzen, Freedom

In honor of, well, something, Budweiser has released a limited edition patriotic can. The accompanying ad (posted up top) implores us to “celebrate [July 4th] with limited edition cans.” The implication is clear: if you’re grilling meats, watching fireworks, but drinking a non-flag-draped can of beer on the 4th of July, you’re not loving America as much you could be. But how much love is too much? And what’s the connection between drinking beer and loving one’s country? And, importantly, does it matter if that beer is no longer American made? I am not suggesting that there’s anything wrong with the flag waving, patriotic fervor that takes place on July 4th– it’s our country’s birthday–rather I’d like to suggest that paying for, and drinking out of, a flag-draped, Belgian-made beer can is a further example of the declining threshold of participation necessary to be considered a good citizen.  Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Kitsch Report: Things That Aren’t Necessary, But Totally Are.

But gradually the models of those elementary rusticities became stranger and stranger to the eye, the nearer I came to know them – Lolita, Nabokov

Every week I’ll link to objects that warm my heart.

And one thing I didn’t like:

  • A film about, well, film – “[the] script involves a father-son road trip in which they attempt to reach the lab and process their Kodachrome rolls before their memories are lost forever.”  I’m reminded of the old 1960s Kodak ad with the tagline: “All it takes is a camera, Kodak film, and thoughtfulness.”  Guess which one is missing.  [PetaPixel]