The Worst Shirt Ever Oh My God

I love the internet, I love that dark and spooky jungle of text and words and weird pictures of cats with witty captions. I love the way that the internet-jungle’s trees sometimes part and let light filter down through the canopy, allowing me to grasp good and useful information between the hours of mindless surfing.

Today, I read the required text about multi-modal works and I freaked out a little bit because I never realized how important little nuggets of text could be, like the little words I read on the back of my Orville Redenbacher’s, and on Tumblr, and how important they were, along with their layout and spacial-placement, their style and size, as well as how they could potentially be aurally presented could really pack a lot of punch.

I worked tonight. I had a six hour shift and I epic-failed and forgot to express-ship my textbook so when I got the attachment from Shelley I was so pleased I about smiled so hard my head ripped in half. And then I read. I read the first chapter and I wanted to find something witty and awe-inspiring.

Instead, I found this god-awful T-shirt on a kid whose parents I sat in a booth by the window.

I was 12, once. I remembered the days where the coolest guys and gals had ‘Hollister’ blaring across their chests. Those days have flown by thankfully, but after discovering this little relic from the past, I did some thinking, and relating to the reading, of why the seventh grade lost its collective shit for these.

I’ll be using the pie-chart on page 4 to explain this. I’ll be using its five categories of the different modes of communication to try to decipher why this shirt will blast this kid into the celestial heavens of popularity.

Linguistics: There isn’t a whole lot of sentence complexity here. There are actually only three words, and one is hacked in half, so we’re rocking 2.5. The grouping here is divided into three lines: Hollister, Calif, and Surf. I think ‘Hollister’ is the least important of the grouping, thus its small font. The fact that ‘Calif’ is an abbreviation, yet still stands alone on its line puts it higher on the ladder. And then there’s ‘Surf’- which I’m guessing this kid didn’t do a whole lot of because he looked like the lovechild of Jabba the Hut and a thumb- but it’s the biggest grouping, even though it’s composed of the fewest number of letters. This hierarchy is further established in the fact that ‘Hollister’ has 3 syllables, ‘Calif’ has two, and the almighty ‘Surf’ is still monosyllabic but it gets its own line just because it’s… the coolest word?

Visual: Let’s talk about the dumb bird here. When I was a little girl, I wanted to get Hollister clothes. I’m not really sure why that was, but it probably had something to do with the fact that I hoped the shirts would make my boobs finally grow, or that the skirts would capture the attention of my 12-year-old-man-candy-crush. My mom would always quip, “You’re just going to be spending five times more for a shirt all because of a stupid bird decoration.” And she wasn’t wrong.  I think this brand symbol haunted my dreams, even. I find it interesting that after all the words, after the word announcing your location and the word declaring your activity, the stupid bird just gets to flap its stupid wings in front of it all and be like, “Look at me! I’m the Hollister Bird!” Its vivid contrast against the text only emphasize my point.

Aural: I’m a tiny bit lost about the aural mode here. I remember my trips to Hollister, though, and I remember how the loud, teeny-pop music made me feel really cool, and it make me open my wallet to buy a graphic T-shirt that I thought would make me even cooler. I can picture a kid reading off the shirt to his friends over the thud-thud of a pop song’s bass: “Hollister…Calif…Surf.” And I like to think that ‘surf’ would be louder and the bluntest and the deepest.

Spatial: I feel like I went over this again in the lingustics mode, but I really feel strongly about it. Everything, from the brand name to the butchered-state to the hanging-ten, really emphasizes that people will read the biggest print first. Like if I were to see a cool dude wearing this cool shirt, I’d read ‘Surf’ first and think that he’s a surfer. Then I’d read ‘Calif’ and think he’s from California and has commitment issues with words. And then I’d read ‘Hollister’ and figure out that he was 14 and probably played a lot of COD.

Gestural: Again, I feel like my argument for this is smaller, but I have a picture in my head of two Hollister-clad kids encountering each other in the hall and nodding curtly, like two little dude-bros just acknowledging.

But maybe that’s just because, still, five years later, they’re really annoying.


Ellie Snyder

Underweight, annoying glasses-enthusiast seeks nice Jewish boy to sit on her feet when they're cold. And also some good words and some not-too-strong coffee.

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