Frivolous Fridays are the Orbit bloggers’ excuse to post about fun things we care about that may not have serious implications for atheism or social justice. Any day is a good day to write about whatever the heck we’re interested in (hey, we put “culture” in our tagline for a reason), but we sometimes have a hard time giving ourselves permission to do that. This is our way of encouraging each other to take a break from serious topics and have some fun. Enjoy!
One of my favorite super-nerdy pop-culture phenonema is meta-merch: T-shirts, coffee mugs, and other swag that advertise, not the show or the characters in the show, but products or shows or games that are featured in the show.
Examples: Ingrid has a Crying Breakfast Friends T-shirt from Steven Universe:
And I might get a Cookie Cat shirt at some point:
Or possibly a Big Donut shirt:
Of course, there’s the Fruity Oaty Bar from Serenity, whose ads may or may not turn you into an uncontrollable killing machine:
One of my very favorites is Sick Sad World from Daria — a TV show I would totally watch if it existed:
Itchy and Scratchy is a classic:
Or if you wanted to get really meta, you could get a Poochie T-shirt. An unpopular failed character from a fictional TV show, one that fictional characters almost universally hated!
I like how meta-merch takes you out of your own world for a moment, and into the fictional world. When I see meta-merch, especially when it’s somewhat obscure, I often have a moment of pleasant confusion: it’s familiar, but I can’t quite place it. And then I realize: Oh, right. It’s advertising a product that doesn’t exist. It’s advertising a product that’s enjoyed by fictional characters. In the case of meta-merch for TV shows, it’s advertising a show I’ve never actually seen, a show I’ve only seen snippets of.
And meta-merch is a way for fans to spot each other. Lots of people recognize Steven Universe and the Crystal Gems, the characters are all over social media and are becoming iconic — but only someone who watches the show is going to recognize Cookie Cat or Crying Breakfast Friends.
What’s some of your favorite meta-merch?