Fashion, by which what is really fantastic becomes for a moment the universal.
Lord Henry, in The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.
You might think writing here about Swine Flu in June of ’09 is dated… Journalism news reports of Swine Flu have already faded below the fold or further, though it was only identified in April of this year. But Swine Flu lingers on – the eternal biological mysteries of DNA mutation and re-assortment continue as relentless as the butcher’s blade.
Called by any other of its names, Swine Flu will remain as threatening. It is an influenza virus – one of our most ancient and formidable foes. Influenza forms are not going away. Fortunately, just as Swine Flu was recently fashionable news, so now there are fashions for Swine Flu. And as Swine Flu is entrenched, we had best suit up for the siege.
We humans have a tendency to take the things we fear and subvert them into something less threatening so that we can own that fear. A favorite means to take ownership is to use humor to undermine our fear. Faced with Swine Flu, we laugh about the coming Aporkalypse, Hamageddon, Hamdemic, Pink Plague or Snoutbreak – caricatures of decimation.
And since the designers and devisers of our fashions continue to weave, stitch and cut with full authority, the muse of Hog Haute Couture must soon co-opt our fears and have Swine Flu Fashions consecrated in Paris. For fashion itself is both the child of its time and a viral plague.
Many of the current Swine Flu fashions are beautifully, darkly illustrative of our feigned indifference to both the flu and our imaginings of Dark Ages plague and massive socio-industrial collapse. And so when we see new designs on ties or t-shirts, designs inspired by global panic, we want that subversion of our fear. And conveniently, as shown here, it is something money can buy.
Fashion provides an easy way to embolden yourself. Even those who don’t need to wear a tie, or seldom were t-shirts, may suddenly feel the need to do so, clicking the PayPal link on the checkout page and immediately feeling clothed in armor. And don’t think I’m being cynical. PayPal is paying these folks for my orders, too, as I literally follow suit.
The Swine Flu virus is ubiquitous as its namesake. It is Porcs sans frontières – pork without borders. It can be born around the globe in days and strikes fortuitously with the tactics of a professional partisan. And these fashions we wear out into the world – our armor – are available to almost anyone who sees them on line or on others. And in that manner the message of our feigned indifference gets spread just like, well, just like the virus.
Some fashion sources:
“I survived the Swine Flu Pandemic”
T-shirt by DemoteControl. Get it and “be happier than a disease-free pig in mud”
“I Swear, it’s just a cold!” T-shirt
Created by mobii, at-shirt artist living in Thailand.
“International symbol inspired by global panic” T-shirt
Created by monkeychick, a graphic designer working out of Melbourne.
“Terminal Ties” and the “H1N1 Snout Mask”
Created by Bethany Shorb, a renegade Detroit artist. They depict the Swine flu viruses attached and replicated at the nodes of six conjoined international airport terminal diagrams.
“Not Another Swine Flu Cartoon”
Created by David Stuart, a freelance cartoonist and stay at home Dad often found with three day beard and tatty clothes.
“H1N1 Chem Suit”
And for a protective suit kinda’ like what I have illustrated here, try the Partners In Grime (P.I.G.) at New Pig Corporation.