OMG’s ‘Sexy ‘n Spiritual’ fashion is a poe, right?

At Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog, Michelle Van Loon writes about the “Sexy ‘n Spiritual Tees for Jesus” of Heart OMG Wear.

Van Loon has some good things to say about evangelical niche marketing and what she critiques as “Christian fandom.” And she asks some earnest, critical questions about this fashion line:

Does this T-shirt trivialize Jesus’ message? Has it been manufactured in an ethical manner? Is this a wise use of the money I’ve been given? It is modest?

But I can’t believe that this product line is really intended for an evangelical audience, and I don’t think Heart OMG is anywhere near as innocent and earnest as Van Loon.

Yes, that’s what the brand’s website claims:

At Heart OMG, we believe in sharing our faith & love through fashion while embracing our fun & characteristic lifestyle as well as giving back to the ones in need.

Every single irresistible Heart OMG piece is wonderfully made to complement those playful & fashion forward individuals who celebrate life, and eager [sic] to make their faith & love a true influence in the world.

Combine all that with quality production, and a sincere heart, and then you’ve got ♥OMG.

But I’m not buying it because … well, because just look:

I can’t really believe that this fashion line is being produced by, or marketed to, evangelical youths when its promotional video wouldn’t be permitted to be shown in any evangelical youth group.

The song there is Ke$ha’s “True Love” — expertly chosen as a pop song that’s almost indistinguishable from some strains of Jesus-is-my-boyfriend CCM. “I think about you all the time,” Ke$ha sings. And the chorus could almost seem like a reference to speaking in tongues or to Romans 8:26.

And there are other clues here that this is a put on: There’s the sarcasm of some of the “spiritual” business — the pretend-to-be-praying pose, for example, is what people who don’t know what praying in church looks like imagine that praying in church looks like.

And there’s the fact that this video was shot in a mainline church rather than in the kind of Orange County evangelical mega-church this would trace back to if it were for real. Also, the attempts at evangelicalese don’t quite get the accent right. I’m not even sure if the “Love*Togo” ministry that OMG says it’s “donating 10 percent of all proceeds to” really exists.

But the biggest clue — besides the photos and the video — are the job postings at OMG’s site. All of them seek people with social media and viral marketing skills but none of them mentions Jesus. If this were really an evangelical company, those listings would mention that ideal applicants should be “on fire for Jesus” or eager to use “their God-given creativity to share their faith through fashion.”

Those listings instead say that applicants should have “experience increasing brand awareness & followers on social media platforms.” If that sounds to you like they’re cynically co-opting evangelical lingo to create buzz for their “fashion” line, you’re probably right.

It’s a pose, and a poe. A fairly well-executed one, but still.

It’s probably an effective attention-grabbing gimmick for OMG, at least in the short term. They got Christianity Today to call them “sexy,” after all — even if Van Loon’s piece was too reasonable to provide the buzz-generating hype of the angrier denunciation the OMG folks were aiming for.

It’s always kind of a relief to see something like this, realize that it’s too over-the-top to really be an evangelical marketing scheme — and then to realize that means that it’s still possible to be more over-the-top than evangelical marketing.

The “Christian fandom” Van Loon laments is pretty bad. But at least OMG’s poe-tastic marketing campaign reminds us that it could be even worse.

  • Victor

    (((Sexy ‘n Spiritual Tees for Jesus. All of them seek people with social media and viral marketing skills but none of them mentions Jesus.)))

    OMG! Fred “I” don’t know what to make of “IT” all!

    Victor! Victor! Victor! Not every body that says Lord, Lord really meanS “IT” don’t ya know that and stop using the name of U>S (usual sinning) gods in vain so if ya don’t mind just take that so called anti-Christian bullshit elsewhere. We are not having any in our Milky Way and beside we don’t want our 7% Jesus Cells to get UP SET when they are not all together, I mean out ‘to get her’!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxYBs9UB168&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CGbXhxw5YUfoe_5JziaSRt&index=5

    Don’t be so quick to judge sinner vic in this case OMG only stands for Old Men Gone!

    I hear ya! Does any body out there know what kind of shit, I mean skit Victor and his imaginary friends are talking about?

    Go Figure! :)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kx-nfvIV6dk&list=AL94UKMTqg-9CGbXhxw5YUfoe_5JziaSRt&index=2

    Peace?

  • LL

    I want the same drugs Victor is on. 

    His enthusiasm is enviable. 

  • flat

    OmG sexy ‘n spiritual fashion, I have only one thing to say about it:

    KILL IT, KILL IT WITH FIRE.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    My mind boggles at the concept of this fashion line.

  • Magic_Cracker

    How’bout a t-shirt with Jesus’s rock-hard abs (and gory spear wound) with some kind of pseudo-ironic quasi-inspirational caption? 

  • Victor

    (((I want the same drugs Victor is on. His enthusiasm is enviable.)))Shame on ya LL! Didn’t Victor sware at ya a few months ago!STOP “IT” sinner vic cause ya know that was ya and your so called 92% imaginary friends. Folks! Please don’t start the rumor that Victor and Willy were seen together smoking UP! :)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lrddy4FGT6Q
    Peace

  • Baby_Raptor

    Edit: Nevermind. That’s what I get for not finishing before commenting. My brain just stopped at “Ke$ha for a Christian clothing line.”

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    I thought the 80′s look was dead after we severed its head off. Apparently not.

  • Kirala

     Apparently, one must also sever the sole shoulder off? Or perhaps burn and scatter the ashes.

  • http://twitter.com/AbelUndercity Abel Undercity

    Nuke it from orbit.  It’s the only way to be sure.

  • Will Hennessy

    That video was painful. And not in the all-too-familiar Christian teenage boy “blueballs/too bad Jesus won’t let me masturbate because of the Old Testament” sense. More in the claws-on-the-chalkboard, prying-up-fingernails, “I-get-really-embarrassed-for-other-people-really-easily” kind of painful.

  • Omnicrom

    Poe’s law states that you can’t tell the difference between a truly genuine crackpot and someone playing the part really well. Since you can point to some actual divergences from the actual Fundamentalist Fringe and this particular fashion company it implies that they haven’t played the part well enough.

  • ReverendRef

    Okay, I watched the video. 

    None of the girls in my youth group ever looked like that — and I was in Y.G. in the ’80′s.

  • TheDarkArtist

    If they hadn’t used a Ke$ha song, I could have believed it more. Every “serious” Christian that I know is vehemently disturbed by Ke$ha’s music, even more than they are by just pop-music in general.

    Personally, I love Ke$ha, and I’m usually a huge music snob. I’m a sucker for video-game synths and big beats, I guess.

  • http://profiles.google.com/marc.k.mielke Marc Mielke

    I’ll admit as an official dirty old man that I’d probably go to church more if there were girls like THAT. “Worship Crew” girl is especially hot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sue-White/1605859612 Sue White

    All I could think of was this.

    But yes, in that praying scene they were definitely faking it.

  • P J Evans

    The video makes me think it should be rated R.

  • Tricksterson

    That I can actually see appealing to the repressed homosexual “muscular Christianity” crowd

  • Tricksterson

    You forgot to stuff it’s mouth with garlic, burn the body and throw the ashes into running water! MUHAHAHAHAHA!

  • Tricksterson

    I’ve heard the term “pimping for Jesus” before but…

  • Tricksterson

    That won’t kill it, it’ll just make it radioactive and mutate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I thought that was how it got its present form in the first place?

  • http://twitter.com/shutsumon Becka Sutton

    No, no, you need to freeze it with CO2 fire extinguishers and then parachute it into the Arctic.

  • The_L1985

    The shirts, by themselves, would be a convincing trick.  But the video hits all of my “fashion advertising” buttons and fails HARD at hitting any “conservative Christian” buttons.  You’ve got the rock star pose–except it just happens to be in a church.  You’ve got the various sexily-reading-books poses, only with the Bible instead of Twilight….and you’ve got the sexily-eating-candy poses (complete with the phallic imagery of a pink lollipop).  You’ve also got the teenage girls sexily doing Teenage Girl Hanging Out Things, Only Sexier.  (Seriously, this is so over-sexed, Nobokov just had a conniption.)  This would have been way too obviously “secular” and way too sexy for the folks at that Church of God that ran my elementary school.

    It’s just not a very good Poe, is what I’m saying.  If they’d left out the video and just had the shirts, I might have been fooled.

  • The_L1985

     That’s already been done.  I believe it had a mock-Budweiser logo, and the back of the shirt read “This BLOOD’S For YOU!!”

  • P J Evans

    Use the Antarctic: more ice. Otherwise, it hits seawater and thaws out.

  • Carstonio

     Not being evangelical or even religious, I might expect an authentic video of this type to show the girls as dressed for prep school or Catholic school, with no makeup, no ear piercings or even rings, and very minimal hair styling. I don’t know why one would assume Heart OMG is trying to reach evangelicals specifically and not young Christians in general. So I appreciate the more informed criticisms from Fred and other evangelicals here.

    The marketers behind OMG probably have even less knowledge about Christianity than I do. Looking at the company website, the marketing smacks of cynicism. Devout teens are apparently another demographic that can be swayed by buzzwords into spending freely. At least the typical Christian store is run by people who share the tribalism of their target customers.

  • rrhersh

    “At least the typical Christian store is run by people who share the tribalism of their target customers.”

    I’m not sure this is true, if by “share the tribalism” we mean share the beliefs, rather than merely the outward forms.  The strain of hucksterism is strong in Evangelicalism.  People marketing to Evangelicals run the gamut from true believers, through cultural conformists, to former true believers who stay in the game for the money, to outright con men who regard Evangelicals as marks. 

    When I see the ichthos used in marketing by local businesses and tradesmen, I regard it as a negative indicator.  It is either being used as a cynical ploy, or by someone who thinks it reasonable to use Christianity as a revenue enhancement tool.  I’m not sure which is worse.

  • Carstonio

    I’ve met a few business owners who use the ichthos, and they tend to be fundamentalists, with some of them outspoken about their reactionary political beliefs. (Maybe in such cases, a better name for the symbol is ichthyosaurus.) Often they describe their businesses as oases in a world filled with depravity, as if there were gay orgies in the restaurant or convenience store next door. Never encountered a non-Christian one who used it just to lure customers, but there probably are some out there. It’s a negative indicator for me as well, not just for the reasons you named, but also because of the tribalism of the concept.

  • http://www.metagalacticllamas.com/ Triplanetary

    Not being evangelical or even religious, I might expect an authentic
    video of this type to show the girls as dressed for prep school or
    Catholic school, with no makeup, no ear piercings or even rings, and
    very minimal hair styling

    Not quite. Just because evangelicals act like Puritans* doesn’t mean they dress like Puritans.

    * In fact they don’t even really act like Puritans. It would be more accurate to say they expect everyone else to act like Puritans.

    But as for this:

    Devout teens are apparently another demographic that can be swayed by buzzwords into spending freely

    Oh hell yes. That’s not even an evangelical-specific criticism. People’s beliefs and passions are always being cynically exploited by marketing departments, be they religious beliefs, political opinions, or what have you.

  • http://www.fromtwotoone.com/ from two to one

    Fred, I just stumbled across OMG today and am so disturbed by it. I’m sincerely hoping that it’s  fake, but there’s no identifying information about their team/owners on their site or researching. Did you come across anything?

  • The_L1985

    To me, the video says it all. You can’t sell Lolita to conservative Christians. They will not go for it.

  • Lliira

     I remember Fred posting about some far-right Evangelical minister saying that little girls needed to be taught that their lot in life was to wear makeup and dresses and be pretty. In other words, to be sex objects. So the only thing here that makes it a Poe is the competence, as far as I can tell.

  • The Guest Who Posts

    If this isn’t a Poe, I’ll have nightmares tonight.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    WHOIS the domain name. Go from there.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    I’m a point this out: see the building in the background there with the gable roof? That’s a flower shop. It’s where we got the flowers for our wedding.

    http://www.aristocratphotography.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/IMG_0101.jpg

  • Carstonio

    I see that storefront and I imagine its patrons having car decals depicting how many Muslims and Jews and gays they’ve killed, like dogfighting pilots logging kills on the noses of their planes.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    O_o

     “Who Would Jesus Shoot?”


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