Slogan-based fashion might be all the rage right now, but there are some subjects that should probably not be the fodder of humorous catchphrases. Like, you know, terrorism. Clothing retailer Romwe is under fire for selling a tote bag that makes light of terrorism. The bag, made of white canvas, has printed in black letters, “This bag contains a gun, a bomb, a very large knife and loads of drugs.” Oof.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Romwe has the bag for sale on its website for $9.99; however, Romwe is not the first or the only retailer to sell a bag with this particular slogan. Originally created by DJ and graphic designer Trevor Jackson, the slogan has been available in some form since 2010, according to TODAY.
Obviously, people can wear whatever they choose to, and some folks clearly see this bag as humorous. But, for others, this bag is less enjoyably provocative than it is simply offensive, making light of subjects — particularly, terrorism and gun violence — that will always, always be “too soon” for humor.
There are, of course, worse and more hateful slogans that could go on a tote bag, but this one just seems tone-deaf (at best) and generally ill-advised. We’re living in a world in which terrorism and gun violence are daily headlines — just look at yesterday’s news as an example — and, as Hello Giggles points out, terrorism is a tangible fear for many Americans. (A New York Times poll conducted in 2015, for example, found that people were more afraid of terrorism two years ago than they were in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks.) And while this anxiety is legitimate, it has also been used in its more extreme forms to justify intolerance, especially Islamophobia.
As a couple of Twitter users have pointed out, the bag’s slogan — and the assumption by people wearing the bag that the slogan will be regarded as a harmless joke — also carry a distinct whiff of privilege. It may just be words on canvas, but there are a lot of people for whom wearing a slogan about carrying guns and a bomb, even in jest, would be problematic and even dangerous.
Carrying around a tote that drags all of this stuff up just seems… unnecessary, at best. Besides, why invoke violence and fear when there are so many other awesome, funny totes out there to choose from?