I’ll admit that when I saw the above left t-shirt at Wal-Mart a while back, I laughed it off. Graphically it’s just plain ugly, and the way I read it from top to bottom was “Training [Batman] To Be Batman’s ~Wife~”. And I thought to myself: “That makes a certain amount of sense, the only person who would really want to put up with Batman long-term is Batman himself, but I don’t know how to giftwrap a fleshlight.”
The second shirt on the right is even more offensive from a design perspective. It’s just part of a comic book panel slapped on to a t-shirt with text bubbles that don’t really fit with the picture. It’s from a Jim Lee Justice League cover that has Wonder Woman’s lasso Photoshopped out, and makes it look like she’s about to coldcock him.
I mean, honestly, they’re just badly made shirts. Even without the sexist element that makes them insulting to the female comic book readers who might want a Batman t-shirt. But in addition to the twelve seconds of thought that went in to their design, they’re both problematic as hell, and people took notice, and complained to DC about those shirts and others like these:
See, the risk you run with licensing your characters out is that if people don’t like it, they complain to you, and not to the manufacturer. Most of the time these complaints get ignored. But as it turns out, DC realized it’s probably not a good idea to let hacks create crappy apparel with their art, and have issued the following statement in response:
DC Comics is home to many of the greatest male and female Super Heroes in the world. All our fans are incredibly important to us, and we understand that the messages on certain t-shirts are offensive. We agree. Our company is committed to empowering boys and girls, men and women, through our characters and stories. Accordingly, we are taking a look at our licensing and product design process to ensure that all our consumer products reflect our core values and philosophy.
It’s unclear how carefully DC has tracked its licensees in the past, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say that they’re about to find out there’s a whole lotta awful merch with their characters on it. They don’t seem to be as litigious about copyright violation as, say, FOX, but they might start cracking down on all those t-shirt sites that can’t possibly all have permission to put superheroes on their cheap tank tops.
Via Comics Alliance