A T-shirt inspired by “The Walking Dead’s” Season Six cliffhanger has been removed from a retail chain in the United Kingdom and Ireland following a complaint that its slogan is “fantastically offensive.”
The shirt depicts Negan’s barbed wire-wrapped bat Lucille, and the words “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe,” part of the children’s counting rhyme recited by the taunting villain as he settled on which member of Rick Grimes’ group of survivors to execute.
However, while most modern renditions of the rhyme continue with “Catch a tiger by the toe,” there an early version, dating back more than a century, that’s undeniably racist, replacing “tiger” with the N-word. It’s that version that was cited by a customer in his complaint to U.K. retailer Primark, leading the chain to pull the shirt from its stores.
— Warwick Courier (@Warwick_Courier) February 22, 2017
“It was fantastically offensive, and I can only assume that no one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages,” Ian Lucraft wrote to Primark after seeing the shirt at the store’s location in Sheffield, England. “The graphic has a large American baseball bat, wrapped round with barbed wire, and covered with blood. This image relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America. It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.”
Although the shirt is officially licensed, “The Walking Dead” logo isn’t clearly visible, which leaves its design and slogan devoid of context. Primark was quick to remove the shirt from shelves, and issued the following statement:
“The T-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the U.S. television series, ‘The Walking Dead,’ and the quote and image are taken directly from the show. Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologizes for this.”
The response on social media was just as swift, with Negan actor Jeffrey Dean Morgan even weighing in:
Holy crap people are stupid. ‘Walking Dead’ Shirt Pulled From Stores After Complaint of Racism https://t.co/cpeIqcxTwJ
— Jeffrey Dean Morgan (@JDMorgan) February 22, 2017
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.
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