Courtesy of the National Post blog:
Adidas has dropped its plans for a sneaker with a shackle-like ankle cuff after critics complained the shoes were racist and reminiscent of slavery.
The JS Roundhouse Mid, a high-topped sneaker that featured an orange plastic cuff, was a collaboration with American fashion designer Jeremy Scott. Scott has built a reputation on eccentric designs for celebrities such as Britney Spears, Kanye West, Rihanna and Bjork.
While Adidas did scrap the shoe, they initially defended it, saying it “is nothing more than the designer Jeremy Scott’s outrageous and unique take on fashion and has nothing to do with slavery.”
They promoted the shoe with the line: “Got a sneaker game so hot you lock your kicks to your ankles?”
It was to go on sale in August for US$350.
OK, I may not be the best guy to determine fashion when it comes to sneakers, and the first reason is: I still call them ‘sneakers’. But I can tell you that calling footwear which costs $350/pair “racist and reminiscent of slavery” is so stupid I am stuttering as I type.
The cuff is plastic, people. And orange. Orange! It’s reminiscent of “props my 4-year old uses when playing cops and robbers”, ….not slavery. The shirt I’m wearing is made from cotton: is THAT “reminiscent of slavery“, too?
Lord Above, please deliver me from the professionally aggrieved.
Amazingly, this isn’t the only “sneaker outrage” of the year: everyone wants in on the act.
From msnbc.msn.com about a month ago:
Chances are you won’t be wearing your “Black and Tan” Nike sneakers when you toast to St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.
Why? Because Nike has decided to change the unofficial name of its new shoe after an Irish kerfuffle erupted over the sneaker’s handle.
If the marketing folks at Nike had done a quick Google search on the term they would have found that Black and Tan does not just refer to a drink that combines a pale ale beer and a dark beer. It also applies to the Black and Tans, who were a British paramilitary force that smothered an Irish uprising in the 1920s.
“It would be the American equivalent of calling a sneaker ‘the al-Qaeda,’” stated a story about the shoe controversy in the IrishCentral.com, one of the largest Irish-American news sites.
So, it’s acceptable that a beer is named after this open wound on Irish hearts, but not a gym shoe? Does that not seem to lend itself to more than a couple fairly easy Irish jokes?
Maybe it’s just me.
So, we have sneakers that ‘remind’ people of an uprising which I’ll wager 95% of the country has never heard of, and we have other sneakers whose orange plastic cuff has them reliving an experience …which they never experienced. What is wrong with us? Author/pundit Mark Steyn is fond of saying that our society today doesn’t need ‘sensitivity’ training but insensitivity training — that’s to say, thicker skins.
While I agree with his sentiment, my own pet theory as to why this is happening seemingly more than ever (and I may be totally wrong, but hear me out) is the increased number of one-child homes in society today. Think about it: when you have a sibling, not to mention 2 or 3, no one (and I mean NO one) gets under your skin better or more often. And after 18 years of being deliberately and repeatedly offended, this other stuff doesn’t even rise to a level worth noticing.
Nothing inoculates someone against being thin-skinned like having brothers or sisters.
Regardless of the reason, we need to get over ourselves if we’re to survive, as a country and as a society. It’s no wonder we can’t deal with the world’s issues properly, if “Sneaker-Gate” is what occupies our attention.
By using up all of our emotional energies on these pseudo-virtual, let’s-pretend outrages, we simply don’t have any actual outrage left.