Last Week's Column
Dec 27 2011
I feel like it's necessary to start this week's column by addressing last week's column. I wish I could say that I wrote the column, sent it out into the world, and then forgot about it and got back to my business at hand. But the truth is that I sat back, watched the story spread, and followed it very closely. Probably too closely. And I must have read 1,000 people's comments on what I should do about the situation. Probably 98 percent of whom stated, "Get a lawyer, sue."
And truthfully that's the first thing that popped into my head when I first saw the shirts a few months ago, but I've spoken with numerous intellectual property rights attorneys about the situation, and the sad truth of the matter is that I'm not in a financial position to file a lawsuit against a major corporation. And I'd rather spend what money I do have feeding and clothing my child than trying to go head to head with the second largest retail chain in America (or a millionaire athlete). Unfortunately intellectual property and the definition of "style" are gray areas in the law's eyes. So in short, it's not a black and white issue in terms of infringement, even though it's pretty obvious to me what's going on. I'm guessing large corporations know that most individuals aren't in a position to take them to court, which is why you see so many flagrant rip-offs of artists' work. By no means do I think my situation is an anomaly. I'm aware that this happens to artists and designers on a daily basis. Today just happens to be my day.
Anyway, the other two percent of the comments had to do with the history of graphic stealing/appropriation in skateboarding and how this particular case relates (or doesn't relate) to that tradition. I thought I'd talk a little bit about that this week in an attempt to express my thoughts on the matter. I'm well aware that graphic appropriation has a long history in skateboarding. An early example would be this series of Blind boards created by Marc McKee under Steve Rocco's direction in 1991.
The graphics were spoofing these very recognizable Powell Peralta graphics that were created by Victor Courtland Johnson in the late 70s and early 80s. McKee was very obviously referencing VCJ's work when he created the series for Blind; however, he wasn't attempting to trick anybody into believing they were buying a graphic that VCJ had created, which I believe is an important point to make. It was more of an homage. Albeit a negative one, but still a nod at the original illustrator.
Since the early 90s, there have been tons of similar graphic appropriations within the subculture of skateboarding, but all of them are making obvious references to the original artist or designer.
They're not trying to trick anybody into believing they're buying something that they're not.
Nor are they attempting to borrow an aesthetic without anybody noticing.
They exist as an inside joke within skateboarding and you have to have a knowledge of skateboard graphic history to be in on the joke.
Corporate logo appropriation has a long standing history in skateboarding graphic design as well, but I don't think that's worth getting into right now. Obviously, if you rip off a 7-Eleven graphic and put it on a skateboard, nobody will actually make the assumption that they're buying a 7-Eleven brand skateboard.
I guess this entire column is just reactive because I read some opinions that the Shaun White/Target T-shirt thing was following in the same tradition as the graphics I've posted above. But I disagree. Why? Well, if you were paying attention I feel like I addressed that within the article. But if you weren't paying attention I'll give you another reason: because Shaun White is a snowboarder and I'm talking about skateboarding culture.
Better Off Dead: Review Number II
I reviewed this movie really early on in my column, but I wanted to review it again because only eight people read the last review I wrote. Normally when I do these reviews I approach them very sarcastically and say things I don't even really mean. For instance, I gave RAD! a horrible review, when in reality it's probably one of my top 35 favorite movies of all time. But I couldn't bring myself to do that for Better Off Dead because it's for sure one of my top dog favorite jams ever.
The only thing I don't like about this movie is that Jon Cusack is apparently (still) bummed on it. Or at least indifferent to it. To me that's like Nicolas Cage hating on Raising Arizona. And why can't either of those dudes spell their first names right? What's wrong with the letter "h"? Hollywood Dorks.
I guess that's not really much of a review, huh? Well, if you want a more in-depth synopsis, you can read my previous review. If anybody even made it this far.
Next week: more complaining and Meatballs.
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