Thursday, December 11, 2008

How to Destroy A Belt Buckle

Bang-On, iron-on pop culture, sells belt buckles. Heavy, solid, licensed, genuine belt buckles. Aztec calendars, bull skulls and snakes, heart-breakers, pirates, and dead Indians in feather head-dresses.

I mentioned to Nick, their delivery driver, that I didn't like it, and he shot me down with an argument as well-crafted as any of Sarah Palin's. Bang-On is a store selling an image, but once an image is in pop culture it's separated from its origin, and therefore this Indian Skull was pretty much meaningless and my opinion was not important.

The idea that imagery doesn't mean anything is a funny argument to bring up for a store which is so heavily based on image.

Having been stonewalled at Bang-On, I called the manufacturer, Bergamot Brass Works. I punched in the extension for the first name on the list, and left a message.

"Hello, my name is Katana Barnett, and I had a problem with one of your belt buckles. Thank you for calling me back at--"

I got a phone call shortly after from a salesman. He said he wasn't brushing me off, but that he'd approach his manager and get back to me.

I'm snowboarding the next day when my phone rings. It's Bergamot Brass works, and I sit down at the side of the run and explain.

This belt buckle reinforces stereotypes- especially that of the Noble Savage- that Indian people were primitive warriors and then they all died. That point of view is detrimental to social change.

"That certainly wasn't our intention at all."

Of course it wasn't. The reason these stereotypes hold power at all is because they are not intended, but subtly reinforced. That's why I called.

He says, "You know, I already made my decision. I've already decided we're going to discontinue the buckle, destroy the mold, and we won't fill any orders that have already been placed."

I tell him he's made my day.

So there's no more of this particular belt buckle. Bergamot Brass Works is a very nice company- they were extremely prompt with their follow-up and they were very open to hearing my opinion and very quick with the follow-up action step. Sometimes you just don't know any better.


PS. for more information, see Marcia Crosby. Also, tagged all of you because I think you are smart, intelligent, or artistic people and am curious as to what you think. opinions welcome.