If all of our greatest cultural problems could be solved with hilarious t-shirts, I’d like to think that world peace would have been achieved the first time that Booger rocked the “Who Farted?” design. Alas, all the witty slogans and ironic images in the world can’t stop this marble from spinning out of control, except for maybe one t-shirt that has been sold by Shelf Life Clothing since 2007. Thanks to some controversy involving A Tribe Called Red’s Deejay NDN and the ensuing Internet buzz, Shelf Life’s “Caucasians” design sold like crazy in July, and the buzz doesn’t seem to be dying down, what with the increasing attention being given to sports franchises like the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians.
Last month, Indian Country Today ran a story about how anonymous residents of Ottawa’s Westboro Village were reportedly complaining about Deejay NDN’s group playing at the Westfest event, with one email calling him a “racist hypocrite” because of a publicity photo that showed him wearing the Caucasians shirt. Real name Ian Campeau, Deejay NDN was a leading voice in the move to get the Nepean Redskins football team to change its mascot to the Eagles, thus the charge of hypocrisy. But all it ever takes is one news story to hit the Internet for other people to latch on to a cause.
This week, the Toronto Star reported how Tracy Bomberry bought her own Caucasians shirt after reading about a potential boycott of A Tribe Called Red, and she claimed that she received “plenty of favorable comments” when she wore it to a Six Nations of the Grand River powwow. Already an ironic favorite among Indians fans – Shelf Life is based in Cleveland – the Caucasians shirt became a big hit on reservations thanks to Campeau’s story, and this month has been a stellar one for Shelf Life.
“We have had over 3,000 shares on posts about the tee in the last month, and have been working around the clock to keep up,” Kirby said.
Kirby said that a quarter of his orders for the shirts over the past month have come from Canada, as well as 13 per cent of his Facebook likes.
More than 100 shirts were shipped to Ontario since the DJ NDN controversy, and orders have come from as far away as Australia and Sweden, Kirby said.
Ironically, not all of the shirt-buyers share Bomberry’s politics.
“We are selling tees to a wide range of customers – indigenous peoples and Chief Wahoo supporters alike,” Kirby said.
“Interpretation of the shirt ranges from a ‘reverse racism,’ ‘see how YOU like it’ intent, to a ‘see, I’m white and it doesn’t bother me to be caricatured!’ attitude,” Kirby said. (Via the Toronto Star)
And considering Reddit launched it to the top of the front page yesterday, this shipment from two weeks ago is probably soon going to look like an off day: