Shirt Stains: Obituary Confederate Flag Barn Jamboree
Here in the South-towns, you know that Obituary don’t play.
The South isn’t rising again. I checked. It probably has something to do with 5 out of the 10 most obese states in the US are in the South, the high rate of diabetes and hypertension, and the lowest levels of education. What these states may lack in, well, a whole lot of good things, they make up for in friendliness, delicious but murderous food, and overwhelming pride from being from the South. With that pride usually comes the defacto symbol of the south, the Confederate Flag. Though the actual Confederate States of America flag went through many different iterations, the battle flag is now commonly referred to as just the Confederate Flag or “Stars and Bars”.
Feelings towards the “Southern Cross” or “Dixie” flag as it is occasionally referred it, have shifted in recent years. What is seen as a symbol of Southern culture or Southern Pride (or just Lynyrd Skynyrd) by those who like is none seen by others as a symbol of racism or hate. The flag, along with statues of Confederate leaders, has been taken down in recent years because of its historical context and representations.
Of course, the flag is not just relegated to states in the South. Even in the northeast, I see cars (ok, pickup trucks) with Dixie flag license plates, stickers, flags, and all sorts of other paraphernalia displayed by people who have most likely never even crossed the Mason-Dixon line. Dumb doesn’t know state boundaries. It almost doesn’t know the supreme irony of holding up the Confederate flag while screaming that people should “Trump won the election and people should just get over.”
Death metal stalwarts Obituary have always embraced their southern roots. Some may not think that Florida, Obituary’s home state, as “southern” thanks to tourist attractions and big cities like Miami. In actuality, the state was actually one of the first to join the Confederacy. The band uses the term “redneck” frequently. Their current US tour with Gruesome is called the “East Coast Redneck Run.” They embrace their southerness the way our president embraces a woman’s genitalia without their consent. That big ol’ bear hug has also led the band to display their name and image next to the rebel flag.
Whelp, there it is. The rebel flag, front and center. Since the shirt is washed out in sepia tones and has an overwhelming brown-ness to it, you eyes are instantly drawn to the red, white and blue flag splashed dead center on the shirt. This isn’t the first time the band has used the flag on their shirts. I don’t suspect it will be the last time, either. The band posted the shirt on their Facebook page and what little reactions it garnered has been mixed.
One would be forgiven if they completely missed the name “Obituary” at first glance. The flag is pretty distracting. So is the picture of the band. That’s the best they could do? Sweaty, post-gig picture complete with towel, beer with edited-out label, and a giant fist with a wedding ring on it. They just look like they could use a warm shower, a decent meal, and a comfy bed. I don’t want to worship death, I just want to give them a hug and read them a bedtime story.
The back of the shirt is just silly. Here’s their old smell hound Geech, their pet goat named Jolt Cola, and their trusty tractor which also doubles as their beer-drinkin’ seat. Just try to ignore the weird size differences and odd placements. It’s all just kind of silly, but it is in keeping with Obituary’s not-serious attitude. Just look at the recent music videos. That’s what makes the usage of the Confederate flag that much more annoying.
I don’t believe the band has any sort of ulterior motive with using the flag. I suspect their thinking is Confederate Flag = South = Us. I also think that they know that a large amount of people do not like the flag and are disappointed with the band’s continual usage of it in their merchandise. Heck, fans have said so right on their Facebook page about it. Plus, look at Geech and Jolt Cola’s faces. They want no part of this.
Would this shirt have made it on to Shirt Stains even without the flag? You bet your sweet bippy it would. This thing looks like it would smell like stale Mountain Dew, diesel fumes, and the stained backseat of Ford Ranchero. That being said, the flag just doesn’t need to be there or on any merch for that matter. It’s 2017. If you want to be proud of being Southern, you can do so without using a symbol of oppression and racial discrimination. For their next shirt, Obituary should replace the Confederate flag with the Waffle House sign. Then smother the shirt in gravy for the full effect. Other bands that use the flag should do the same.