It would be nice if the familiarity of Bob Marley’s face came down to his immortal association with music, peace and civil rights but unfortunately it has, since Marley's death, become more synonymous with armless t-shirts, posters tacked to student’s bathroom doors, iPhone cases and colorised Zippos, rather than tireless activism.
On Sunday, Bob Marley’s estate finally won a seven year legal battle which could change the entire famous-face-on-shit-product industry, as they scored a courtroom victory over merchandisers A.V.E.L.A, who had been selling Marley’s face on t shirts across America in Walmart, Target and other major retailers. And off the back of Rihanna’s win over Topshop last month, what constitutes false endorsement on products is about to become a huge issue.
But if you think fading shrinkable t-shirts are tasteless, then your knowledge of unofficial Marley merchandise has barely scratched the surface. From abstract fragrances to tasteless wigs, there’s a whole industry out there putting Bob’s face on anything that’s ever been mass produced. Below you’ll find the dumbest. Let’s stop doing this!
BOB MARLEY WEED GRINDERS
Once you’ve acquired a grinder you’re on your way to scrappily bootstrapping L’s in the comfort of your own Dorito-stained bedsheets. It’s the entry-level item for every pothead. But those who choose to get a grinder with Marley’s face on aren’t just entering the smoke-game, they’re subscribing to the heinous belief they’re part of some chilled-out paradigm where they’re above other weed-enthusiasts else for being down with “the herb”, rather than getting stoned because, y’know, it’s an antidote to not feeling terrible. Marley grinders are terribly cliche - the weed equivalent of getting a Black Flag tattoo or wearing an Obey snapback. If you find someone with all three congratulate them on scoring a twat-trick.
BOB MARLEY LAVA LAMP
The lava-lamp, a novelty decorative item invented by British accountant Edward Craven Walker in 1963, is more commonly known as one of the more immature ways to light up a room - so I’m not entirely sure why anyone with a debit card would want one in the first place, let alone make the decision to click-through and purchase something that’s inexplicably adorned with an international songwriter. But hey - as the Japanese proved with diet water, people will buy anything. Unlike your standard lava-lamp, the Bob Marley edition allows the user to set “the Rasta mood” because, as it’s widely known, Haile Selassie was a big fan of morphing incandescent wax.
BOB MARLEY WIG
Fancy dress is the most laborious route to getting drunk and having fun. Why spend beer-money on a costume? Still, as long as fledgling earthlings fleck to student halls like lemmings to the sea, fancy dress will continue to be the most common form of organised fun. Some people hire cotton furnaces from the local costume shop, and others opt for something more simple - like wearing a hat with Bob Marley dreadlocks on the back. Like the American Headress or bindis, these people usually know little about the cultural backbone of their chosen outfit. If you see someone wearing a Marley hat ask them what they know about Rastafarianism. Chances are the response will be limited to: weed, Bob Marley, Jamaica, rather than the belief that Ethiopia is heaven. Aside from looking uneducated, the Marley hat just makes the wearer look like a confused uncle who got lost on the way back from a Stag-Do at V Festival.
This little thing is sold in Tesco supermarkets and I am here to tell you that it tastes fucking horrible and should be avoided at all cost.
BOB MARLEY BRANDED WEED
Last year a private-equity firm led by a team of white, Yale-educated enterprising freaks announced the release of Marley Natural – the world’s first cannabis brand, with Marley’s face fronting the product – basically signaling to everyone they’re as far removed from Cannabis Culture as you can get. Strangely, despite the fact the strain will be grown and sold in America - a country Bob called “pure devilry” - the Marley family were actually on board with the company who designed the Starbucks Mermaid logo’s decision to transform Marley into cannabis’ Marlboro Man, proving even they’re comfortable selling his image if they can get a cut. But weed isn’t about making money or celebrities or co-signs, it’s about getting high without the tacit approval of mass-market global organizations AKA the man. Right?
BOB MARLEY MOUSEPAD
When did you last encounter a mouse-pad in the wild? I haven’t seen one since the dial-up modem.
BOB MARLEY SOCKS
The foot is one of the worst body parts. It stinks, is feared by many, and usually needs its toenails trimmed. So I guess that begs the question - why are you relegating the world’s most iconic reggae star to a footnote on your cotton socks? He deserves to shine, not to sweat and get left behind in the washing machine. Besides, these look fucking terrible. Everyone knows coloured socks are for wankers and babies.
Bob Marley Fragrance
In 2011, French jewelry and perfume brand Renaissance launched Jammin’ Vibration, a perfume “inspired by Bob Marley and the rhythms of reggae”. In case you’re wondering what exactly the rhythms of reggae smell like: “Hesperidic or citrusy head notes of Florida grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, spicy cardamom from Ceylon, pink peppercorn from the Réunion. The base notes are gourmand with vanilla from Madagascar, tonka bean from Argentina, and musky with white musk.” Gotta love that pink peppercorn smell of fresh reggae in the morning!
You can find Ryan Bassil on Twitter: @RyanBassil