Pontius Pilate was the first great censor and Jesus Christ the first great victim of censorship. —Ben Lindsey
I know, this isn’t exactly the sort of headline one expects to see on a Tuesday morning. In fact, one doesn’t expect to see this manner of headline ever. I certainly hadn’t planned on writing one. Nonetheless, here we are, and yes, the story is all too real.
The problem begins with how fabric, particularly silk, is being manufactured. We both know good and well that there aren’t this handful of silkworms laboring furiously to provide the world’s luxury apparel makers with the thousands of bolts of silk they use each season. We also know that all fabric has to be processed in such a way that it meets industry and government standards for safety. One of those safety factors is flammability. In short, your clothes should resist catching on fire, not turn you into a human torch.
There’ve been two recent product recalls, however, because apparently there is more than one manufacturer who isn’t giving their product a good coating of the stuff that makes textiles less likely to erupt in flames. One involved some 20,000 rayon scarves sold under a name I’d rather not give any traffic. I found it rather disturbing that the scarves, which are worn around the head and neck, have been sold for two years and only now is someone figuring out that they’re flammable. Fortunately, fewer women are smoking these days and I’m guessing not too many women wear scarves while standing near an open flame. Still, it would only take one instance of a head becoming fully engulfed to make for some very bad publicity.
What really got my attention, though, because I never have trusted Chinese-produced rayon in the first place, was when Gucci’s silk t-shirts were recalled, also because they have this bad tendency to be flammable. There are three t-shirt designs affected, two of which are rather nondescript sheer silk with stripes. Neither are of a style I would drop $700 or more to wear. However, the third shirt isn’t one we normally associate with flammability. Take a look:
Yes, you’re seeing that correctly. Gucci put a picture of a crucifix featuring Jesus Christ himself on one of their silk t-shirts. I’m guessing this one probably retails on the higher end somewhere around $1300 each. I won’t speak to the overwhelming insincerity of paying $1300 for a silk Jesus t-shirt, although that falls right in line with the idiocy of giving to televangelists. Neither do I care to go off on a tangent regarding how incredibly disrespectful and sacrilegious it is to put Jesus on a t-shirt at all, though if one is going to do so, at least it’s silk.
Rather, it’s the fact that this Jesus is flammable that is dripping with irony that I simply can’t pass up. The image of the one who supposedly saves you from the flames of hell could actually erupt in flames itself if one is standing, oh, say around a campfire singing Kum-by-yah a little off key. One just doesn’t expect to find that wearing a depiction of Jesus might result in accidental immolation; we tend to leave that act to radicals, not people who drop $1300 on a damn t-shirt.
Obviously, Gucci didn’t actually intend for its Jesus t-shirt to be flammable and, given that fewer than 60 of the shirts were even in production, the owners are being contacted directly and their money being returned.
Still, maybe this should give Gucci and other fashion labels some pause about trying to use religious symbols to make fashion statements. Don’t. Because if you piss off a deity, there’s no fabric on this earth that can withstand the flames of such wrath.
Or maybe Jesus didn’t like the royalty split.
Either way, the shirts are off store shelves. A rather effective way to say Jesus wasn’t pleased.
[insert evil grin here]