Although I've established a functional détente in my working life, I still prefer to keep the advertising out of my private life. I used to laugh at my friend who turned his T-shirts inside out to avoid displaying a logo on his body, but now I think I understand where he's coming from a little better. I used to think if you didn't want to wear a logo, then you could go buy yourself some clothes without one and get over yourself. But sometimes, man the hoodie is just really comfortable, and the toque fits just right. And you finally find that jacket for which you've been looking for years, the one that fits perfectly and isn't too heavy or too light, but fits in that Goldilocks zone of "just right." But it's got a dude on a horse on the breast, and you can't rip it off. What do you do, hotshot? What do you do?
Well, if you're me, you suck it up, wear the jacket and show logo. Because really, life's too short. I'd rather be comfortable and with a little extra money in my pocket than spend the time, money and energy finding a perfect replica sans-logo. I'm sorry, but it's true. If this means I've lost my stripes from the revolutionary army, so be it. At least I'll be warm on the long march back home to my bourgeois apartment.
So there I was in San Francisco, wearing my Rock Band hoodie and my Shadow the Hedgehog toque. Halfway to the Moscone Center, I realized I didn't actually need the attendance badge around my neck. It was pretty obvious I belonged at the convention. At least the T-shirt underneath it all was blissfully ad-free. If the chips all fell, I could strip down to that and make a run for it, blend in to the non-gaming crowd, buy a latte and pretend to live there. I thought about this more than was, perhaps, healthy.
I got back to the office after the convention and realized that if I wanted to continue belaboring the point that advertising - and therefore advertising swag - is bad, I'd come off as something of an extreme hypocrite. Perhaps an ass. Perhaps even a hypocritical ass, heaven forefend. And here's why: I've got swag all over the place.
Sitting at my desk, without even having to turn my head, I see: a Pirates of the Caribbean Online model pirate ship; Silly Putty that came in an egg emblazoned with the logo of some graphic card manufacturer; a hat from the same manufacturer; three hats advertising television shows produced by a former employer; Guitar Hero and Mafia posters; a The Escapist mug; a rubber shrunken head from Conan: Hyborian Adventures; over a dozen ball pens from various organizations, including a few hotels; a rubber ball with blinking lights inside from IBM; a Guitar Hero guitar strap and pick; a plastic Darth Vader head with candy inside, advertising something or another related to Star Wars; two challenge coins, a duffel bag, a compass and a pocket knife from Tabula Rasa (I love the coins, BTW); a plastic Mario; an art book from some obscure French browser game; the TechTV vest I'm currently wearing; and a statuette of some Egyptian goddess from a museum. OK that last isn't swag, but it may as well be.
The point here is that I've got access to a pretty much endless supply of items of varying usefulness, provided I don't mind they're trying to sell me something. And I've recently realized I can tolerate the sales pitch so long as I find the item interesting. It's like hanging out with that creepy guy who's always bullshitting about how awesome he is just because you have no other friends and can't be bothered to go find some. Like when you let a relationship drag on too long and realize, afterwards, it was only because you'd gotten used to it. The hoodie (and everything else) exist in my space because they're useful or interesting and were free. Period. I have no integrity left, I realize. I'm a whore, plain and simple.