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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Neil Young's Urban Outfitters Jingle -

Urban Outfitters Web:   Vintage Kent State sweatshirt - $129

You know you have a serious problem on your hands when videos like this from start popping up.

Neil Young's Urban Outfitters Jingle from Internet Videos

A rather brutal takedown on Urban Outfitters marketing debacle of a blood-red-stained Kent State sweatshirt.

The video rather mercilessly assails Urban Outfitters absolutely tone deaf insensitivity to the Kent State, Ohio massacre in 1970 immortalized in song by Crosby Stills Nash & Young.

Let’s review the previous eight controversial issues Urban Outfitters has been involved with.

From 8 Worst Things Urban Outfitters Has Done |
The recent furor over its faux-bloodstained Kent State sweatshirt isn't the only controversy the company has been involved in
by Katie Halper:
1. The anorexia-encouraging must-have T-shirt. Back in June 2010, Urban Outfitters offered its “Eat Less” gray V-neck T-shirt. The order to consume fewer calories was written in white cursive letters across the front. But don’t worry. The official description of the shirt, which nobody will ever see, is totally not eating disorder-inducing: "Eat less or more or however much you'd like in this seriously soft knit tee cut long and topped with a v-neck.” See? The description on the website isn’t judgemental at all. You can eat whatever you want! Starve, binge, purge, just for god’s sake BUY!

When news of this shirt came out, the store, very responsibly, removed it from the website, but kept selling it at its stores. But only, it should be noted, in large sizes.

2. The shirt available in white or Obama/black. 2010 was a great year for offensive Urban Outfitters products, because that is when it offered a “buttoned BDG Burnout Henley” in White/ Charcoal or Obama/ Black. The store stopped selling the shirt and offered a totally reasonable explanation.

Many customers have brought to our attention one of the color names listed for our BDG Burnout Henley, and rightfully so. We screwed up, and are sincerely sorry. The burnout pattern on this shirt is comprised of two colors—one is an internally developed color we called "Obama Blue" and the other is "Black." Unfortunately our website database truncated this combination to read "Obama/Black." We should have caught the error, and apologize for offending anyone.

I mean, we’ve all been there, right?

3. The cultural appropriation trademark violation clothing line. In 2011, Sasha Houston Brown of the Dakota Santee Sioux Nation slammed Urban Outfitters in an open letter to the company published in Racialicious. In Houston Brown's words:

I had the unfortunate experience of visiting a local Urban Outfitters store in Minneapolis. It appeared as though the recording “artist” Ke$ha had violently exploded in the store, leaving behind a cheap, vulgar and culturally offensive retail collection. Plastic dreamcatchers wrapped in pleather hung next to an indistinguishable mass of artificial feather jewelry and hyper sexualized clothing featuring an abundance of suede, fringe and inauthentic tribal patterns….

…. There is nothing honorable or historically appreciative in selling items such as the Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Peace Treaty Feather Necklace, Staring at Stars Skull Native Headdress T-shirt or the Navajo Hipster Panty. These and the dozens of other tacky products you are currently selling referencing Native America make a mockery of our identity and unique cultures.

I was expecting Urban Outfitters to make the convincing argument that the Navajo Hipster Panty pays homage to authentic Navajo culture. Instead, a spokesman responded with this string of platitudes: "Like many other fashion brands, we interpret trends and will continue to do so for years to come," he said. "The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term 'Navajo' have been cycling thru fashion, fine art and design for the last few years."

4. The Everybody Loves a JAPy, Materialistic, Shopaholic Jewess T-shirt. In January 2014 Urban Outfitters started selling T-shirts that said “Everybody loves a Jewish girl.” Given that the store also offered “Everybody loves an Irish girl,” “Everybody loves a German girl,” and “Everybody loves an Italian girl,” T-shirts, it would have almost been anti-semitic to leave Jewish girls out of the fun. The only problem was the imagery accompanying the Jewish girl shirt: dollar signs and shopping bags. Of course, the other shirts played on stereotypes as well, featuring a shamrock, beer stein and pizza respectively. But somehow, saying that shamrocks are Irish, beer is German and pizza is Italian isn’t exactly the same as saying shopaholic, materialistic girls are Jewish. As Sarah Lefton, the founder of the Jewish-themed apparel company, Jewish Fashion Conspiracy said, "That's pretty bad....With a shamrock for the Irish and pizza for Italians, you'd sort of expect a bagel for the Jewish T-shirt. And they come up with a shopping bag and money. That kind of stereotype isn't even funny when Jews make it on each other."

The store felt terrible! Ted Marlow, president of Urban Outfitters, explained “bias, sacrilege and ridicule were not our intention.” But he also said, "If you have been in our stores, you'll notice fun, humor, irony and irreverence are not topics foreign to us.” Demonstrating remarkable sensitivity and tact, Marlow added, "We got a call from a rabbi who is in Montreal [who was in the store with his daughter]. Our director of stores is Jewish and from Montreal, so she called him. But we're not merchandising for the rabbi father. Our core customer is 24, 25 years old."

5. The Dirty MexicanO. In 2005, Urban outfitters made linguistic-racist history with its “New Mexico: cleaner than regular Mexico” T-shirt. This clever article of clothing takes the traditional and contrived “dirty Mexican” racist slur and transforms it into a new and improved racist turn of phrase.

6. Ghettopology: The hilarious ghetto board game the whole family will love! Urban Outfitters doesn’t limit itself to offensive garb; it also trailblazes into the uncharted waters of racist board games. Ghettopoly, which Urban Outfitters offered in 2003, is just like Monopoly except racist! The game features cards which say, "You got yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack. Collect $50." You can land on properties like Cheap Trick Avenue, Smitty's XXX Peep Show, Westside Liquor, Tyron's Gun Shop, and Weinstein's Gold and Platinum, which is especially clever because it combines racism and anti-Semitism. The game hilariously presents African Americans as uneducated, with characters named "Malcum X" and "Martin Luthor King Jr."

This racism-themed board game provoked African American clergy and organizations around the country to threaten a boycott unless the store stopped selling the product. Rev. Glenn Wilson, pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, said: "This is beyond making fun, to use the caricature of Dr. King in this regard….There’s no way that game could be taken in any way other than that this man had racist intent in marketing it."

Ghettopoly’s creator, David Chang, explained that the game was actually a social justice initiative: "It draws on stereotypes not as a means to degrade, but as a medium to bring together in laughter... If we can't laugh at ourselves ... we'll continue to live in blame and bitterness." Chang was practially channeling Dr. Martin Luther King, who famously dreamed of a day when men of all colors could play board games together.

7. The marriage equality shirt that had to be pulled, obvs. Just as Urban Outfitters sells, and often refuses to remove, offensive products, it also insists on removing good products for offensive reasons. In 2008, the store sold T-shirts saying "I Support Same Sex Marriage," which were created by Tara Littman of Support Shirts. A week after the shirts went on sale, they disappeared. The reason According to a buyer, it was “bad press.” As Littman discovered, however, this bad press consisted of a single blog entry critical of the T-shirt.

8. Rick Santorum-funding Urban Outfitters CEO Richard Hayne.

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