Prompt: T-Shirts in the News Again

Recently, the prompt was about describing the response of a character when put in an internal and moral conflict when confronted with an offensive t-shirt. Another t-shirt is in the news again this week as a SxSW conference attendee wore a shirt handed out by Comedy Central at the conference and was taken off a pending flight by Southwest Airlines for violating their dress code.

Taking our original prompt further, what would be the perspective of the person realizing that the free t-shirt was considered offensive, especially after seeing hundreds if not thousands of them on fellow conference attendees? What about the airline staff seeing the shirt and having to respond? What about the passengers watching this event?

A quick search for similar incidents found that in 2011, a couple protesting outside Dollywood for more inclusive and equal rights for LGBT folks were told their t-shirts, which read “Marriage Is So Gay,” had to be turned inside out or they had to leave as it violated their dress code policy, while saying that the park is open to everyone of “all shapes and sizes.” The married couple was a lesbian couple, 76 and 84 years old.

Consider that perspective as an alternative prompt, both from the women’s perspective, the staff at the entertainment facility, and as a bystander. Does age change the character’s response?

In 2014, a scientist working on the Rosetta comet mission wore a t-shirt featuring scantily clad women as sex objects at a press conference, creating a furor. He made a public apology and broke down in tears as he admitted to his mistake, upset that he could have possibly offended or hurt anyone.

What about his story?

In 2013, a t-shirt manufacturing and online sales company was forced to close after a public uproar about the t-shirt they created that implied rape was a good thing. The owner admitted he made a mistake and the mistake cost him his twenty year old company.

What about a prompt from the point of view of these people? From the person who thought they had a good idea? From the person who approved it? From the person who saw it and decided that this company wasn’t worth keeping around and gathered with others to begin a public humiliation campaign? From the business owner’s perspective of losing his dream company?

Clearly, we hit on a fascinating and inspiring prompt, allowing us as writers to explore this kind of social justice or injustice from many perspectives.

Here are a few more news stories on t-shirts that caused similar responses.


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