Friday, April 4, 2008

Is The Snorg Tees Girl Some Kind Of Natural Focal Point?

Is The Snorg Tees Girl Some Kind Of Focal Point?

There’s an outdoor flea market in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, called The Swap Shop. It’s a weird circus/outlet mall/outdoor-garage-sale/drive-in-movie type thing, with, literally, an actual circus taking place inside the main building as people rummage through piles of junk in the enormous parking lot.

One of the stalls at the Swap Shop sold (and probably still sells) funny t-shirts with five-buck iron-on transfers that, at sixteen, I found incredibly funny. Being white and Jewish and middle class, the shirts that appealed most to me were the ones featuring Jesus in ludicrously drawn, cartoonish attitudes. (There were two Gentiles in my (public) elementary school, and I didn't make my first goyishe friend 'til I was fifteen.) The shirts weren’t really parodies--I think they were meant for devout Christians. But to a Canadian Jew from the suburbs, they were too uniquely ironic to pass up.

So I bought them. I have an Air Jesus shirt. The shirt shows a silhouette of Jesus, a la Michael Jordan’s Nike ad, dunking a basketball. The slogan says “The Highest High.” I have an “I Like Mike, But I Wanna Be Like Jesus” shirt. It’s the same general idea with another dunking Jesus. I have a Jesus Dream Team shirt. It shows the disciples’ retired basketball jerseys hanging off a large wooden crucifix.

Why Christ and the apostles would be attracted to basketball, I don't know. But I wasn't the only one lined up to hand over my money.

I moved past the funny-t-shirt stage of my life about seven years ago. And I thought the fascination with irony had kind of died out in the late ‘90s. Alanis was gone and forgotten. We weren’t wearing lumber jackets anymore. I was finished with Roots sweatpants. Our clothes could actually be nice again.

I guess I was wrong. A couple years later and my Jesus shirts were subsumed by legitimate fashion labels who wanted to brand their couture with edgy slogans that would be wide across the tits and wide across the ass. The most basic element of composition was on display: the focal point.

I don’t know if you’ve ever painted, but it’s one of my hobbies. My grandfather, a former ad man, taught me the basics, and every couple months I buy a canvas and do something in bright colours. If you’ve ever seen a painting with electric-yellow pubic hair, that’s the focal point. It attracts the eye. It takes you through the painting to a place where you should be able to consider the work as a whole.

That’s why I’m wondering about the Snorg Tees girl. She’s on every Yahoo! page, and now I’m seeing her on Facebook. I’ve seen her in at least a dozen weirdly “candid” poses, but, with one exception, I can’t remember what any of the shirts have said. (The memorable slogan: I’m kind of a big deal. Across the chest, naturally.) But there’s something about her face and open-mouthed smiles that’s memorable.

It’s bad art. If you’re looking at her face, you’re not looking at her shirt. And who’s looking at her face? Guys. Who’s then looking at her legs and breasts? Guys. Who’re the shirts for? Women. But obviously these shirts are selling. It’s like hanging a slinky on George Clooney’s erect penis. People are going to look at the penis, then wonder what the hell that metal coiled thing is.

Playboy’s offered the Snorg girl a million dollars to pose. In a way she’s kind of like a contemporary Mona Lisa. She’s attractive in a girl-next-door way, but she’s almost unique in the sense that you can’t avoid looking at the ad. I can’t name two ads I’ve seen on the ‘Net in the fifteen years I’ve been surfing. But I can name one: the Snorg ad.

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