Blue Moon Trading, along Goodramgate York, has been criticized by Labour Councilor James Alexander on his Twitter and branded a ‘sick and disgraceful shop’.
The store, which sells replica guns, air rifles and accessories also sells T-shirts poking fun at Hitler’s invasion of Europe. Labour Councillor James Alexander took offence at the t-shirts which owner Stuart Sykes displayed on the exterior of the shop. A stylised Adolf Hitler, salutes above a rock band style list of tour dates. The dates of the invasion of Poland in 1939, along to the planned invasion of Russia which is listed as ‘Cancelled’, are a reference to the successes of the early invasion but the eventual failure of operation Barbarossa by Nazi forces. The rebranding of Hitler and the German National Socialists as a rock band can tell us a lot about the rise of supposedly ‘ironic’ or ‘sick’ humour. The joke, however, mocks the Nazi progress through the continent and raises some interesting questions about the idea of a rock band ‘following’ and a political one. Even though the wearer might not realise this, they are engaging in the sort of humour which promotes the concept: ‘everything is funny, or nothing is funny’. The distancing effect of humour, something clearly not felt by James Alexander, is in full force here. To wear or own the shirt is not to suggest an affiliation with facism.
Though the owner has suggested he has had a mixed reaction, from customers buying several of the shirts and giving them away as presents to people complaining about the product. This specific T-shirt is sold in 600 similar stores nationwide. Councilor Alexander has claimed that the store is not ‘the tolerant and welcoming York I know… giving a terrible impression’. This is the second time that Blue Moon Trading has come experienced opposition to its merchandise. In 2010, local police investigated complaints the shop was selling T-shirts emblazoned with the official Nazi state insignia. In December 2008, Mr Sykes was criticised for his decision to sell and display Nazi memorabilia including pendants with swastika designs. However, the Hitler T-shirt proves to be a popular product amongst customers, selling roughly 20 a week.