I’m looking at a JC Penney Pre-Fourth of July Sale insert from the Thursday, June 28 edition of the Chicago Sun Times and there’s a picture of a young guy wearing a t-shirt. “Entire stock Young men’s Novelty Tees 50% off”. Ok, cool. ‘Cept the kid is wearing a red t-shirt with the KFC logo on it. That’s it. Nothing irreverent (“Hey, baby, I’m finger-licking good!”). No sly in-joke about KFC (“Lost one of our herbs and spices, now down to 10”). No protest slogan (“KFC Is Murder!!! Go PETA!!). Just a picture of ol’ Colonel Harlan Sanders and the letters “KFC”. And I’m wondering, who the fuck would want to wear that? Is there something cutting edge and cool about KFC that I don’t know about? Is that the new hip hangout place (“Dudes, let’s skateboard down to KFC and snag a couple of those new Chicken Snackers!”)? Why would a kid, a “young man” in the JC Penney parlance, want to wear a KFC shirt? Even if it is 50 percent off. If I had a kid that wanted to wear a KFC shirt, I’d probably smack him in the back of the head and yell at him, “Whaddya you wanna wear that dumb shirt for? What are you, a dork? You’re gonna get your ass kicked in school wearing that. Get outta here! Go march in a protest or something.”
Now, I have to admit I’ve worn my share of corporate product shirts, mostly beer shirts that I got free at bars. But in a sudden burst of maturity, I tossed them all out one weekend, figuring I didn’t want to advertise someone else’s beer anymore, at least for free. I’ve got one “beer” t-shirt left, but it’s for Tusker, a brand made and sold in African that a friend brought back from a trip there a few years ago, so that’s a little different. And I suppose the White Sox are a “corporation” like KFC, but a sports team t-shirt is a little different. I mean, baseball has its own song. No one sings, “Take me out to White Castle/Take out to the sliders/Buy me some Pepsi and onion rings/But I’m so drunk right now I’ll eat whatever they bring…”. Almost all of the rest of the t-shirts I have with writing on it have some sort of irreverent phrase that may or may not convey my sarcasm or outlook on life. “Thank you for not breeding.” “Elvis Shot JFK” “*&*$%*# - David Mamet” (Got that one for third place in the Mamet Write Alike contest), one with a small question mark on front and a big one on back. And I have about 10 plain black t-shirts, which I guess is a statement of some sort.
But only a loser would opt for a shirt that just reads “KFC” with a picture of Colonel Sanders on it. Why not just wear a Land O Lakes butter t-shirt? A Kinkos t-shirt. A JC Peney t-shirt. Are people supposed to look at the shirt and think you’re cool? What is the purpose? OK, maybe some product t-shirts can be inherently cool, just because of the product itself. Like a Mallo Cup or Pez t-shirt could be cool, I guess, because it’s so old school. Or maybe some Mountain Dew t-shirt because it also had a cool design. But just a picture of Colonel Sanders. The letters “KFC”. That’s it?
Once again, life confuses me…