Are dirty sweaters treason to the reason for the season?
Ugly Christmas sweaters, by one journalist’s account, have plummeted from merely tacky to truly tasteless.
A proliferation of brands are selling Christmas sweaters with ribald, if not outright obscene, designs, according to The Washington Post. Searching online and even in brick & mortar stores, one can find sweaters depicting Santa, his elves and even his reindeer involved in sexual double-entendres, engaged in some manner of lewd or excretory activity or, in at least one case, doing hard drugs.
Walmart last week apologized for selling a sweater depicting Santa doing cocaine with the caption, “Let it snow.” Walmart pulled the sweater, but a version is still available on Amazon.com.
Post journalist Maura Judkis points to this ramped-up level of raunchiness as an evolution — or devolution — of last decade’s development of workplace “ugly sweater parties” into something even uglier.
The fate of once booming online t-shirt company Solid Gold Bomb offers a cautionary tale of how quickly things can go south for a vendor that offends the sensibilities of the buying public, even if by accident.
In 2013 the company, built on auto-generating shirts that parodied a British phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On,” experienced a wave of internet outrage when shirts featuring phrases that appeared to make light of serious, violent and taboo topics were discovered on the company’s Amazon marketplace according to CNN. The company’s founder explained that the offending shirts were, in fact, the product of an algorithm that randomly put words together and that the shirts had never actually been printed. The company was removed from Amazon for three weeks, inundated with negative press and was never able to recover.
But while Solid Gold Bomb was led into error by an algorithm with no sense of taste, plenty of intentionally tasteless products have no problem hitting it big.
- Santa’s a sleazebag. The elves are drunk. How did Christmas sweaters get so raunchy? – The Washington Post
- Controversial T-shirt destroys business – CNN
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What’s driving the trend behind bawdy holiday sweaters? How do retailers draw the line in determining whether an item is playful or objectionable?