Friday, January 30, 2004
New York The T-shirts and pajamas are meant to be funny, with cartoon captions like "Boys Are Stupid -- Throw Rocks At Them." But some protesters, encouraged by a fathers'-rights talk show host, are unamused and have pressured three retail chains into dropping the merchandise.
The products in question -- an array of girls' clothes and accessories -- are manufactured or licensed by David & Goliath, a T-shirt company based in Clearwater, Fla.
Its chief designer, Todd Goldman, has created a series of cartoonish graphics used on the merchandise with what he intended to be humorously anti-boy themes. "Boys Are Smelly -- Throw Garbage Cans At Them," says one. "The Stupid Factory -- Where Boys Are Made," says another.
"I have a very quirky, sarcastic sense of humor," Goldman said. "Most people just love the cartoons. If a few people don't like them, they don't have to buy them."
The graphics have been in use more than two years but only recently came to the attention of Glenn Sacks, a commentator who is host of "His Side," a weekly radio show aired in Los Angeles and Seattle that is sympathetic to the fathers' rights movement and often at odds with feminists.
"I'm sorry if I sound like a humorless zealot, but I just don't see the humor in it," Sacks said.
At Sacks' urging, listeners and supporters have contacted targeted retailers by e-mail and other means, urging them to stop selling the David & Goliath products. At least three retail chains -- Seattle-based Bon-Macy's, California-based Tilly's and Claire's Stores Inc., an international chain -- say they will no longer carry the contested items.
Goldman thinks the idea that he's promoting violence is ridiculous. "If you look at the violence in rap songs, in video games -- that's what they should be concentrating on, not a cartoon T-shirt," he said.
Like many targets of consumer protests, Goldman said the controversy about his products had boosted sales, especially over the Internet.
"It's the best advertisement I can ask for," he said. "We're one of the hottest junior lines out there."