"Obama Says Knock You Out." Tony the Tiger says "Grrreat!"
Published: Sunday, September 21, 2008 - 4:32pm
Regardless of whom you would vote for, you can’t deny that Barack Obama has energized a process that is boring to many and seemingly nonexistent to some.
What catches me off guard, though, is the sheer pervasiveness of Barack-omania. While jostling with the masses at the new Urban Outfitters store last week, I wandered through the T-shirt section and was surprised to see no less than six Obama-themed designs.
One of them said "PROGRESS." Many just had the image of his face. One announced that “Obama Says Knock You Out.” Where did that one come from?
What strikes me most is the juxtaposition of it all. On one side of the display table are neatly folded stacks of smiling Obama. On the other side are shirts touting Red Stripe Jamaican Beer and another design, underscored with Japanese characters, promoting Miller High Life.
Across the aisle are other flavors of the month in the pop-novelty arena: Snoopy, Batman, the Silver Surfer, and a surprisingly generous showing of Kellogg’s cereal characters like the the Rice Krispies trio and Diggem, the Sugar Smacks frog with the upturned hat.
I’m sure that a lot of informed voters will buy these $28 Obama shirts. I’m also sure that, to some people, these shirts might represent their sole link to this year's election. I suppose that’s the good side of this consumer saturation. I think that involvement, even at the most ornamentally remote level, is better than no involvement at all.
When I was leaving, I saw workers folding some of the mishandled shirts and restocking some of the hot sellers. I wondered if the supply of Obama-wear would keep pace with his momentum toward November glory.
I also wondered if the store would introduce some cleverly ambiguous McCain shirts any time soon. To counter "Obama Says Knock You Out," how about "McCain Says Don't, I'll Shout"?
At any rate, I'm betting that, in two months, the same tables that are now brimming with political hope will be filled with stacks and stacks of brand-new shirts devoted to "Iron Man II" or perhaps a retro Pillsbury Doughboy.