T-Shirts and Theme Parks

While I was out in Florida I was complimented on my t-shirts a few times, and each time it threw me for a few moments. I don’t know if it’s a Floridian thing or a Disney thing, or a wider Stateside habit. It certainly isn’t very common over here in the UK, outside of online geeky hastags, to compliment people’s geek references.

To put it another way, a friend might comment when meeting down the bar or unexpectedly while out and about. It might even be used as a chat-up line. What would be very odd, and a little threatening, would be a random person in the street doing so.

Not so in the Disney Parks while I was there. I’m inclined to think it came from the same sense of social inclusion that comes from #geektshirtfriday or members of the same social club or group of sports fans.

In Disney Parks there is an assumption of a certain holiday spirit or club inclusion just by being onsite. You see it once people are past the turnstiles – a certain relaxation of shoulders, a slowing of pace, the widening of smiles. It does seem to put people in a more familiar frame of mind for the most part – where little kindnesses to strangers come more easily for example.

While my t-shirts were not Disney themed, they did point to a certain fantasy/sci-fi flavour (a Lego spaceman logo, a UKCC MCM Comiccon logo, and a technical diagram of an X-Wing Starfighter) that prompts the tribal familiarity that seems to lead to unprompted comments about clothing as a point of similarity.

A slightly odd variant on that was something I noticed a couple of times in the parks where what seemed to be geeky t-shirts like superman logos were then subverted with religious references – for example small ‘je’ and ‘us’ either side of the superman logo to form the word jeSus. I saw enough of them to think that there had either been a summer Bible camp or local church flirting with copyright violations recently.

I’m still not sure what to make of it – there feels a deceitful element and breach of the geeky social contract, but maybe I’m overthinking it. I do know I didn’t hear anyone complimenting them.

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