Posts Tagged ‘Ollie North’

Who Would Wear an Ollie North T-Shirt?

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

In college, my love of absurd t-shirts was well-known, and I received some really strange ones as gifts from friends. This was one of the more controversial ones:


Ollie North, notorious for his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, was not a popular guy after that scandal broke. Apparently, he he must have had some fans, or at least that’s what the printer of this shirt was hoping. I think they may have over-estimated the size of that pro-North demographic, though. Soon after receiving this, I went back to the Salvation Army where it was purchased to find an entire rack of these shirts. I’m not sure who was originally selling them, but obviously shirts are only given away when it becomes apparent that people aren’t willing to pay money for them. However this was the early 90’s, which may have been the peak of the “ironic appreciation” phenomenon. A shirt like this was gold to hip college kids who wanted their clothes to be conversation starters.  I’m not sure if other people actualy bought the rest of them, or if the Salvation Army eventually got rid of them some other way, but those shirts were gone within a few months. It’s too bad the shirt makers couldn’t have found these customers directly, but they likely took the shirt’s message too seriously to consider that people might actually find it amusing. These were the days before stores like Urban Outfitters were trying to artificially re-create the ironic sensibility, before film-makers tried to re-market bad movies as intensionally funny, before anyone wanted to make an actual effort to appeal to this demographic. But many of us see such an effort to be phony anyway. It’s not real nostalgia if it was made last week. Also, we don’t wanna pay more than $5 for shirts like these.