A Modest Business Proposal
This modest business proposal is based on two unrelated observations.
The first is the ubiquity of English in advertising here in Spain, where I have been living since last year. The cachet of using English is especially evident in casual clothing; one cannot walk down a street in Spain without encountering T-shirts sporting a wide variety of printed English phrases or American commercial logos. Of course, there is nothing new about Europeans thinking that it is cool to wear clothing emblazoned with English (often with messages that are only barely intelligible), and this trend must be understood within the larger context of the long-standing American cultural hegemony in Europe—something against which the French, in particular, have been rallying for years. The outsized influence of American cultural institutions and commercial interests in Europe began after World War II, when the United States was seen as the “leader of the free world” and a model for democratic capitalism. Now, however, the United States no longer enjoys such a positive image; Donald Trump is almost universally seen as a pathological idiot, and no European (even right-wing ones) would contemplate emulating America’s lack of sensible gun laws or think about repealing universal health care. Given this decline in the European evaluation of the American political system, one might wonder how much longer the cultural mystique of America will last.
My second observation concerns the changing demographics of the United States. For several years now, statisticians have predicted that within a generation white Americans will lose their majority status in the country as the population of Hispanic, Asian, and other ethnic groups continues to grow. Many pundits have noted that the anxiety many whites—especially those living in poorer, rural communities—feel about this change was one of the major factors that led to Donald Trump coming to power. Fueled by this demographic shift, American politics is becoming increasingly polarized into two camps: a whites-only conservative party and an ethnically diverse liberal party. And much of this political polarization is marked by what people wear; one can easily distinguish the political beliefs of someone with a MAGA cap from someone clad in a rainbow T-shirt.
And now to my modest business proposal.
Given these two general observations, there is an opportunity to create a new fad in clothing with Spanish phrases and logos. A company making such clothing could target them as a protest against the anti-immigration, anti-Hispanic policies of the Trump administration. While this targeting might begin with explicit political messages such as that pictured here, it might also include more subtle messages of support for the Hispanic community, such as the mostly silly designs shown on the other examples. While this targeting campaign might be initially directed to politically liberal American consumers (imagine an actress wearing this to the Oscars), it could soon spread to the wider Hispanic community as a sign of ethnic pride. And once a cultural fad starts in the US, it won’t be long until it spreads to Europe. And how fun would that be, to walk down a city street in Spain and see the youth wearing T-shirts with Spanish instead of English!
Note: the examples presented here are merely rough suggestion of what phrases or logos might be used. While someone following this proposed business model might be tempted to hire a native Spanish speaker to write the text of these designs, I would suggest that this be left to amateurs like me; the inadvertent inelegance of non-idiomatic speakers is part of the joy of this genre.
Of the many available online T-shirt design companies, I have used spreadshirt.com to create the mock-ups here.
Obviously, a copyright arrangement would have to be made with Chupa Chupsor El Corte Inglésor any other Spanish company whose logos was used, as presumably is currently being done with the Levi, Vans, or many other American logos one sees on so many shirts in Spain.