Saturday, April 23, 2005

No more FTG4 t-shirts and mugs

CafePress.com has informed me that my FTG4 design is in violation of their Content Usage Policy (aka CUP — surprisingly, this catchy acronym hasn't spread like wildfire). I quote them here:

We recently learned that your CafePress.com account contains material which may not be in compliance with our policies. Specifically, designing, manufacturing, marketing and/or selling products that may infringe the rights of a third party, including, copyrights (e.g., an image of a television cartoon character), trademarks (e.g., the logo of a company), "rights in gross" (e.g., the exclusive right of the U.S. Olympic Committee to use the "Olympic Rings"), and rights of privacy and publicity (e.g., a photo of a celebrity) are prohibited.

Now if I were a more combative type, I might try and argue the point with them. After all, while the FTG4 design is based on a copyrighted photograph, I believe it's sufficiently "interpreted" to qualify as fair use and is therefore a First Amendment–protected expression of artistic and social commentary. But hey, they have a business to run, and if they want to reserve the right to refuse service on the basis of a possible lawsuit, I'll let it slide for now.

I'll try to come up with a less-infringing but no less compelling image to put on t-shirts and mugs. In the meantime, you can still download posters from the links on the right.

40 comments:

mohfire said...

I have made a website dedicated to the Harajuku Girls. I think if you see it it'll change your mind about this whole thing.

Anonymous said...

heh... someone probably ratted you out!
damn those stupid fans. They are too distracted by gwen's garish outfits and weird squats she likes to call dancing to notice the truth!

Optometrist said...

OMG, Wes, PLEASE come up with another design, and quickly. I came here today to buy a teeshirt to show my support w/ the express purpose of wearing it to this party on Saturday, and I get THIS horrible news. I won't make the party w/ my statement, but I still wanna support you, so get something together soon!

What I don't understand about this whole thing is that nobody at her record label, not Jimmy Iovine--NOBODY--looked at her idea and said 'hey, maybe this might not be such a good idea'. That's what's most upsetting about racism--the silence that accompanies it is often deafening.

Please keep up the good work, Wes. Let 'em know.

An African American fan,
Optometrist

Anonymous said...

That design should be covered under fair use, because the doctrine supports your use without copyright holder's permission for "criticism or comment." That's exactly what your T-shirt does.

Anonymous said...

let's break into Gwen's house and steal her clothes, then give the clothes to the homeless people.

gumblecakes said...

Don't be silly, person above me. Homeless people have too much pride to wear clothes like that.
It WOULD be funny to see some guy prancing around wearing skanky pirate couture, though.

Anonymous said...

There should caps too.
Try http://www.zazzle.com/? Although you can customize your shirt styles, it's quite pricy..

Anonymous said...

maybe if you use an official promo or publicity photo. one that is released to newspapers and magazines and the such to use for free to get the artist publicity.

aif said...

should get y-que out in LA to do it. they did free winona tees and a whole lot of other shit.

Drooling Fan Girl said...

http://kungfool.transpect.net/webpages/archive_CK/200505_1.html#02

Gar said...

here's a quick solution... just black out Gwen so she just appears as a silhouette, while keeping the photo of the girls in the background relatively intact.

FREEDOM FOR THE GWENIHANA FOUR

emily2 said...

also... "parody" as fair use...

Kaori said...

Mohfire, being Japanese myself, I will never find anything respectful about the Harajuku 4, whether the girls are fully Japanese or not. It presents a stereotype about Japanese women that is largely untrue. Condoning that is basically like saying that it's okay for someone white to paint their face and start shucking and jiving, and saying that all black people act like this. It's disgusting. Again, since you probably have not dealt with stereotypes firsthand, I doubt that you'll understand what I am getting at.

Kristin said...

I think the gwenihana 4 issue is simply an offshoot of another issue....what the hell happened to gwen stefani?? she used to be a fun musician that had her own style -- without needing to branch out into strange costumes and human accessories (not to mention those freaky nails she sports in the hollaback girl video). I recently saw a photo of her where a "bananas" shirt while hanging out in the park with her hus... the woman has become a peroxide-addled walking billboard...somebody stop her before i have the image of gwen stefani flailing about inside a fantasy dollhouse branded onto my brain forever!

Anonymous said...

Lol! This hilarious!
Japan is the most Racist, Xenephobic country I've EVER been to!
Objectifying the Japanese?!?!
The Japanese OBSESSION with EVERYTHING Western (particularly American - Baseball, Disney etc.) without understanding the heart or soul of ANY of it, is the epitiamy of objectification!

Anonymous said...

to anonymous immediately above this post:

and if you are insinuating that all things presented for sale (thus commodified) in America are done so having been researched by a group of people resembling a bennetton ad that has undergone extensive cultural sensitivity training, you are out of your f**king mind.

America, love it for what it is, is a captitalist society. Strictly. As if we sell African earthenware, Asian attire, and jewelry from South America because we understand the "heart and soul" of ANY of it. Lemme clue you in: ain't no heart and soul in selling that stuff. It's been proven time and again that these particular things have a huge audience in white women who feel the need to escape the banality of their whiteness. Who feel the need to indulge in a bit of forbidden, mysterious "ethnic culture" to save them from the boredom of being a white girl in America. Capitalism. There's a demand, and it's supplied. So get off your high horse talking about Japan's lack of "heart and soul" as if America were full of such compassion.

Japan? Racist? The people probably didn't like YOU. Maybe you were having a spell of bad BO.

By the way, the word is e-p-i-t-o-m-e

Kaori said...

And someone has been OWNED.

amamonster said...

Oh, you're all full of shit.

Anonymous said...

How about you lazy fucks get creative and STENCIL your own t-shirts instead of whining to the blog owner.

JoyM said...

I liked her better when she was with No Doubt. http://ilovewhiterice.blogspot.com/2005/07/go-back-to-no-doubt.html

Anonymous said...

i'm not a big gwen stefani fan and just recently heard abt her herd of harajuku girls. anyway, why do you have link to her website? it contradicts your efforts.
FREE THE HARAJUKU 4!

Jack said...

You guys are morons. Whether you're japanese, black, white, multicolour, whatever...

Just let it go. Go get informed about real problems and world issues and put your energy there.

What do you hope to accomplish in all of this?

Anonymous said...

...and Japan's rascist attitudes, along with policies aren't exactly unheard of.

Do some research.

In Japan, all non-Japanese are required to carry a alien registration card which is a racist document as every foreigner, including Koreans born in Japan must have one, on pain of arrest. Up until a few years ago you had to carry around your fingerprint on your ARC like a common criminal.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnic_issues_in_Japan#Racism_faced_by_non-Japanese_or_people_of_non-Japanese_heritage_living_in_Japan

hotfuss said...

you're the moron if you don't understand that this is a symptom of a 'real problem' or a 'world issue'.

Get a degree in communications or sociology and get back to us with a better argument.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you elaborate as to how this is exactly symtomatic of a world issue that needs attention, and I'll tell you where you're wrong.

Anonymous said...

say this is IS racist... what do you hope to accomplish with this? This was obviously their (being the "harajuku" girls') choice... I understand how you may simply be involved in it to make a statement. But how do you propose we solve the global problem of racism?

I would argue that this is another instance of one culture adopting elements of another, although selectively (i.e. half-assed, which is often the case,) in the name of trend-setting, fashion, etc.. It's no different from today's punk(rock) trend, which has absolutely nothing to do with the ideology from which punk was originally created. It's not intended to be an accurate representation of another culture. Just some idiot outsider's interpretation. I agree that's it's all pretty stupid. But that's where it ends for me.

So what's the solution? You can't expect people to be informed by mainstream popular culture.

Black Shinigami said...

I came here to show my support too!! I totally dislike Stefani now. She used to be cool when she was in No Doubt, now she wears clothes coz she thinks they're cool. Maybe we should form a petition so she could free those poor girls. I don't think they'd want to be freed though. Considering that she prolly pays them so much to be her "pets"

Kaori said...

How this is a problem...

It's a racist stereotype. Enough Said.

I'm tired of people who say that we need to open our eyes, and when we do, we get called morons because we see that we are being stereotyped.

In Japan, you have a country where they never really see anyone of other cultures. I would expect this of a country that has been in isolation for a long fucking time. The shit wouldn't work in America because it is too multicultural. Racist though it may be, you have to understand that the Japanese don't know what they're doing is racist.

anamonster, I have yet to see you come up with any good reason as to WHY Gwen's Harajuku 4 is not racist.

If you have never seen racism first-hand, and if you have never been a victim of it, (frankly, if you are European-American) you don't even have a right to tell people who do have to deal with racism (the minorities) what is racist and what is not. Fuck off.

KaZe said...

I think you, Wes, are just trying to make money out of something that's already using harajuku fashion for the money, too.

I don't know what's worse, honestly.

I don't see any racism in what Gwen Stefani does, I bet those four girls are well paid for their work and free to leave if they want to.

just browsing said...

I agree with everyone here, strangely enough. The problem is two-fold. As a visible icon in our culture, Gwen Stefani should be held responsible for misrepresentation of these Harajuku girls. With great power comes great responsibility, and she could have and should have portrayed the girls as more than mute doll puppets.

Aside from that, these girls also had the choice to partake in this endeavor. They are not slaves as it would seem to be, with your plea to "free" them.

Same goes for the video hoes with all their assets hanging out, as much as people would like to object the objectification of women. These women voluntarily assume these roles for money. Sometimes you just can't help those who don't want to help themselves.

just browsing said...

Just thought you guys might appreciate this. It has gone bigger than just owning them as "pets," now she is dedicating an entire fashion line to them!

http://emol.org/emclub/?q=gwenstefani

TIFFANY said...

Do not be jealous of Gwen, She is a VERY talented person. All writers need somthing to inspire themt o write. Atleast it is BEAUTIFUL music, and has meaning. The harajuku girls are beatiful as well as Gwen Steffani... Find somthing better to criticize!

Anonymous said...

We need to stop white people from exploiting other minority cultures. I mean... come on... a fucking court order to stop the girls who pose as her harajuku harem from speaking ENGLISH? The hell... that's borderline racist bullshit.

Anonymous said...

Kaori,

What???

Because Japan isin't aware that what they are doing is racist, they get a free pass? And you claim to understand racism!??

???

Anonymous said...

japan xenophobic? ugh.. no?!?

3/4 of the japanese people are into foreigners, while 1/4 are scared of them. if u took the word "gaijin" as a racist word, you sir, are retarded. it pretty much means the same thing as you say "asian" here in the states, except "gaijin" is more broad.

the japanese wouldn't have had obsession with western things if the japanese government wasn't saved by america after the war.

Anonymous said...

**t-shirt** has some

Anonymous said...

Racist is such a strong word, and I believe that Gwen is FAR from being "racist", as that word is loosely used.

Racist is a "hate" word, and while Gwen unknowingly stereotype what she considered exotic does not mean that she "hates" Asians. Japanese culture even in anime use ALOT of stereotype. Take the popular anime, "Dragonball Z", where they drew a black man character dark with glowing white lips. It isn't meant to be racist, but it stereotype others.

And yes, anyone who travel to Japan do expereience racism in public restaurants and bar. Not all of them refuse service to a foreigner, but it exist.

Alot of Asians from oversea do not expereince what Asian American experience in tems of racism, so they may not understand the full impact of sensitivity over here in the States.

Take Asian Canadians for example. Because Canada is more "generally" tolerant of other cultures, many Asian Canadians look at themselves as Canadian first and Asian second, while Asian Americans look to identify themselves as Asian first and American second (IMHO).

So the heart of this issue with Gwen using what "some" Asian considered "racist" is in fact, not racist, but an artist who is a bit misguided, and will admittedly testify that she loves the Japanese culture, regardless of her perspective. Afterall, the Japanese "LOVES" hot blonde westerners. Take the very popular anime, "Naruto". He is basically a blue eye, blonde hair white ninja. Ask yourself this, Does the majority of Japanese, born and living in Japn feel that this is indeed racism? Probably not. But ask some Asian Americans, and they might say yes...rightly so, as racism is a reality in America.

I for one thinks that Gwen is far from being "racist" or hateful. Her long love ex-boyfriend is not even "White". I love her music and thinks that she combined a combination of sound, lyrics, and diversity well into her artistry. Stop the hating and focus on something useful, like the unfair deportation of legal tax-paying, green card carrying, military-serving "Asian" aliens in America.

Anonymous said...

have you looked into spreadshirt.com?

xian said...

I can do any old racist stuff I want, but I'm the ethnic majority in this society and I get to decide what important racism is and what it isn't. That's what my racial privilege is.

Then when people shoot down my arguments, I am allowed to say, "There's worse problems in the world that I also do nothing to solve, but that means that you are bad people wasting your time."

1. Have you ever thought that most of us who are upset about this ARE working on those deeper problems? I teach in Cabrini Green Chicago, working with 99% African American kids who are 100% in poverty. Why is that? Because upper class and white parents are too racist to agree to school integration.
2. Stereotypes lead to much worse outcomes. When there is a string of attack on Asian American women (which has happened on multiple occassions all over the country), it is a result of the attacker(s) not thinking of their victims as human beings. Gwen Stefani is contributing to that.
3. Japan has its share of racism. I lived there for a number of years and experienced it first-hand. It hardly shocked me--I was used to it from the U.S. I acted as a translator and advocated for foreigners in Japan who were profiled by law enforcement. What did shock me was how white foreigners would proclaim the "discovery of racism in Japan". They really couldn't see it back home because they didn't care when it only affected other people directly. Whether Japan is racist or not is irrelevant to this discussion. "He did it first!" is the refrain of a five-year old who fights on the playground, not a grown adult wishing to fully-participate in the society.
4. Even if you do want to be the five year-old (see above), why would Asian Americans who suffer because of this society's stereotyping of people of Asian descent be responsible for Japanese racism. Assuming that we are is racial prejudice right there. Just because somebody robs a bank, doesn't mean you can say, "You both have slanty-eyes--you will pay for this!"

If you want to read more, check out:
http://yellowcontent.blogspot.com/2005/12/do-you-know-legend-of-queen.html

Anonymous said...

You seem to be assuming that people who aren't as offended by this are in the ethnic majority.