As if all the hullabaloo over Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke’s dancing debacle during the VMA awards last week isn’t enough to make parents cringe, there’s a new fashion trend that may just push some parents over the edge.
A California retail chain called Kitson is offering T-shirts and sweatshirts designed to resemble football jerseys emblazoned with prescription drug names on the back. The shirts apparently sell for between $58 and $98.
According to reports, Kitson claims that proceeds from the sale of the shirts will be donated to an organization called DrugFree.org. The catch is that DrugFree.org isn’t aware of any agreement with Kitson and thus far have not received any donations from Kitson. As if that isn’t bad enough, the drug manufacturers are also seeing red as the it appears the company did not have the necessary permission to use the drug names in their clothing line.
It seems that many folks, including the drug manufacturers, feel the clothing line is out of line and glorifies the abuse of prescription drugs among teens. Kitson denies the allegations and claims that the allegations are false and that the clothing line is designed to raise awareness of prescription drug use and abuse among teens to whom the clothing line is aimed.
Regardless of which argument one chooses to believe, one thing is clear — how do we define activism, pop culture and what is acceptable and unacceptable in society? Those definitions always seem to be a moving target.
Let’s not forget that, what one person finds offensive, another may, instead, see it as artistic expression.
While many folks, myself included, agree that the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke incident certainly crossed a line, many more are still on the fence when it comes to things like these jerseys.
This furor over Kitson’s clothing line reminds me of past disagreements over T-shirts that were emblazoned with marijuana logos showing up on the backs of teens in high schools across the country.
Many teens don’t understand why adults view these things as offensive nor do they truly comprehend the lifestyle that these jerseys promote. A lifestyle of addiction, whether it be prescription drugs or illegal narcotics, is a life sentence of pain and heartbreak not only for the addict, but for their family as well. It is not a joke to be displayed on shirts and other items. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and not on a T-shirt.
While many of our nation’s teens are good folks, they simply think that shirts and other items glorifying drug use are “cool” and “hep.” They don’t see or understand the real dangers of glorifying such a lifestyle. Of course they wouldn’t, as many of our pop culture icons promote promiscuity, glorify drug abuse, and violence against women disguised as the “thug life.”
Many teens look up to such folks a Miley Cyrus, Fifty Cent, Chief Keef, Aaron Hernandez and others who all peddle this lifestyle to them. Teens see them as successful stars with lots of money, cool cars, huge houses, and plenty of dates, and try to emulate that in their own lives in the hopes they too will become like the stars they idolize.
What our teens don’t see is what goes in the private lives of these same folks. When the lights go out and the concert ends or the movie is finished filming, how many of them lead lonely unfulfilled lives. While it may look glamorous on the outside, the “Hollywood” life is truly not as idyllic as a young impressionable teenager might think.
There are long grueling days spent in a recording studio or in front of a camera followed by hours upon hours of interviews with every media outlet you can name. Couple that with being chased by rabid photographers everywhere you go. You have no private life anymore as that is now on display for everyone to see. Magazines and newspapers place a “bounty” on photos of you by offering huge amount of money leading to photographers to behave more like stalkers than professional people.
Your heartbreak becomes public, your arguments with your significant other go from being just between the two of you to being paraded in every magazine in America. Your professional failings are also magnified by the media and explode into stinging criticisms of your talents. That is the real “Hollywood” life and that is only the tip of the ice berg.
There are those in Hollywood that want to sell you drugs and entice you with promises of a lucrative career only to drag you into an ugly underworld the horror of which only Steven King himself could imagine.
So, the next time your teen wants to wear a T-shirt or jersey they deem “cool,” let’s stop and have a conversation. Let’s make sure they fully understand the seriousness of what it is they are glorifying. For if they truly and fully understand what these things are or can lead to, I’m betting many of our teens wouldn’t be willing to promote them.
— Erin Smith is a staff writer for the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.