What does zeitgeist mean? – It means: the spirit of the time or the general trend or the thoughts and feelings of the current moment in time.
In the tough world around us, any chance to make a quick buck is almost expected. Currently, one of the best ways to tap into most people’s consciousness (and their wallets) is to offer them something that gives them an opportunity to show that they are aware of and are supporting/fighting against whatever the issue of the day happens to be.
They may indeed be produced just to make some fast cash or they may be made as part of the movement or cause to help spread the word or raise some money. Some are more artistic than others both in design and statement but as long as the message is clear then it usually makes for a sudden must-have item.
Peaceful Protest Pepper Spray Cop
This phenomenon is most recently highlighted with the rapid emergence of a t-shirt depicting the recent shocking footage of a member of University of California, Davis, campus police force nonchalantly spraying pepper spray into the faces of seated peaceful protestors. An anonymous t-shirt artist quickly produced a t-shirt version of an image posted on Reddit which had been doctored to show butterflies being sprayed from the can.
‘Casually Butterfly Everything’ is available on Etsy.
But this is not the first spontaneous zeitgeist inspired t-shirt to become available in the last year or so. Here are a few more:
The recent ‘Occupy’ movement that has seen peaceful protests in cities around the world, which started in Wall Street in New York as a statement against capitalism and the current state of the economic issues in the world, has inspired dozens of t-shirts. Even rap star Jay-Z has decided to capitalise on the trend by incorporating the theme into a range of clothing.
London Riots Cheeky Clothing
Not all zeitgeist trends are for good causes. The London riots have inspired a wide range of t-shirts that have unsurprisingly been condemned by commentators as people trying to capitalise on the violence. Slogans include: ‘I looted and all I got was this t-shirt’.
Libya Uprising Chic
The uprising in Libya and the removal of crackpot dictator Muammar Gaddafi has led to a huge range of t-shirts that support the now successful campaign. Many of the t-shirts used the now reclaimed national flag as its main symbol. You can still get them by searching for something like ‘Libyan Uprising t-shirts’.
WikiLeak on my cool T-shirt
The international secret document distributer, who has blown the whistle on many stories and issues by posting classified media on its website for the last few years made especially large font headlines by releasing diplomatic cables that some fear would have major political consequences. The WikiLeaks message is quite neatly conveyed on one of the many cool t-shirts now available from various sources online: “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. – US Supreme Court”
T-shirts are an excellent medium for conveying your appreciation of the zeitgeist while looking good at the same time.
What would you have on your own zeitgeist t-shirt?
Julian Fawkes is a journalist and t-shirt designer. He loves funny t shirts UK culture references and when he sees mens funny t shirts he always takes a note.
- How to Find the Perfect Skate Shirt (freepersonalizedtshirts.com)
All Hail the ‘Zeitgeist T-shirt’ by Steve