I preordered a bASIC … and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.
Undershirts, as they are commodified and exchanged in part for their image-creating value, no longer directly index experience, action, membership, institutional or social identity. They display signifiers with ambiguous signifieds. They may index experiences or statuses the wearer has not had or does not possess, fantasies, or imagined status honor. Various forms of truth are reproduced and honored. Signifiers float and play on fictive relationships and social identities. T-shirts now speak to manufactured, copied, or fabricated identities, jokes about these identities, or reflections of the purely personal.
Here, one might consider how the t-shirt has become the quintessential modern icon. It states something about the wearer and something about the other. T-shirts are sold as commercial jokes e.g. “My parents went to New Orleans, but all I got was this lousy shirt.”
Captain Pierce went to Japan and all he got me was this lousy T-shirt.
— Colonel Blake in M*A*S*H