I made these a few years ago; my “LOSER” hi-viz vests, and here is the spiel that I used to sell them.
“These are made in China by children. I buy them online at £1.75 each and “add value” with my unique branding and sell them for £25. I got the idea from Premier League football.”
It is many years ago, so I might not remember the exact details, but I heard a radio interview with the parent of (I think) two young boys who was not angry, just frustrated, and he said (of whichever Premier League football club that it was) “Do they really have to issue a third away-strip?”. That weary father knew exactly how he was being played but his manner indicated that he knew that he knew he had no choice. I chose the price of £25 for my own mass-produced tat because that was the price of replica football shirts at the time of the interview. The machine-printed nylon shirts, made in sweatshops in the far east are nearer £80 now.
Rapacious capitalists are very aware of the potent pester-power that is at the disposal of children (I’ve moaned about this before), and this football club knew very well that their fans would have to buy yet another replica strip for their little tykes to compete with each other, and so this is my attempt at satirising their high-visibility capitalism.
In June 2013 I took a stall at a craft fair where I sold various items from my catalogue of satirical anti-commercial products, including the “LOSER” vests. It was just a stunt, and I never expected to actually sell any, but one man found the idea so entertaining that he actually coughed up £25 for a badly stencilled hi-viz vest with “LOSER” written on the back.
I didn’t see that coming.
I am a sometime-performer and professionals more experienced than me will tell you that the way to deal with the unexpected is to expect it. Try to imagine what might go wrong, how you might be interrupted or what technical failures might occur, and you are much better prepared to deal with it. I have a variable history of success in the matter, but when I succeeded most is when I had expected the unexpected.
Momentarily, I was tempted to refuse his money, but he called my bluff and I felt honour-bound to complete the transaction. True to my socialist principles, I redistributed the unearned wealth immediately afterwards in the Rutland Arms public house.
It might have taken four years for the idea to catch on but maybe that is where France’s Gilets Jaune got the idea, a different kind of personal protective equipment, a highly visible attempted protection from wealth extraction and disaster capitalism.
I also planned some children’s sizes but never made them.
I threw in with Gandhi some time ago and I do not advocate rioting, violence or the destruction of property, but I do advocate non-violent civil disobedience.
Don’t believe what you hear on BBC News or Channel 4 News about the Gilets Jaune, it is more than just a protest about a rise in fuel tax, and the very same things apply here in the UK. I hesitate to wish for revolution, but something revolutionary will happen, either by design or accident. With corrupt politicians, post-competent institutions and an economic system that rewards the destruction of our own environment, collapse is inevitable. We are being screwed by high-visibility corruption in government, commerce and the media, but here in the UK, we’re so inured to corruption that we don’t even notice it any more.
In the meantime, I have plenty of “LOSER” vests left so please get in touch if you would like to be exploited by my particular brand of high-visibility capitalism.
Vive la révolution de la haute visibilité!