The recent Rolling Stone article The Story of the Most Controversial Shirt in Rock History has me wondering if I should trash all of the old band shirts I have stored away in my “tickle trunk.” I wore them in my high school Goth days and have been saving them along with my dog collars, fishnets and pleather pants to show my kids that their Mom wasn’t always a Mom. And just as I wore my Dad’s 70s, tanned, leisure suit pants to high school, I know full well that my kids might one day want to wear my old rock gear, but could it put them in danger?
The Cradle of Filth T-Shirt mentioned in this Rolling Stone article is extremely offensive. So offensive that it has caused a number of arrests and prosecutions. The band even admits that they went too far with the design. Yet it’s still kicking around 20 years later.
Amongst a pile of Type O Negative, Marilyn Manson and Slipknot T-Shirts, I know I have at least one Cradle of Filth T-Shirt in my trunk. It’s not at all offensive, at least it wasn’t to me when I was in high school. But I have to admit, to complete my rocker ensemble in high school, I also donned a major I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude, which included not caring what people thought about my clothing. Looking back on it now, I’m lucky that the combination only provoked occasional name-calling. Some teenagers haven’t been so lucky.
When do we intervene when it comes to what our kids wear, especially in large crowds like concerts, where the possibly of offending someone (perhaps the wrong someone) is great, like at Coachella. During this year’s festival, a photo was posted on Twitter of a man wearing a shirt with the words “eat, sleep, rape, repeat” on the front. It’s certainly hard for me to find the humor in a shirt like this, especially with the festival’s history of sexual assault allegations.
Now that I’m older, my I-don’t-give-a-shit attitude has morphed into a concerned parent’s attitude. I know how little it takes to set someone off these days. I want my kids to be individuals, to find themselves, even through pink hair dye and dark eyeliner, but it will be up to me to teach them the repercussions of potentially offending someone. It’s great to be able to wear what you want, but I’m realizing individualism or attempted humor could come at a price.