Being a show about a post-apocalyptic world full of zombies where the few remaining humans are willing to commit atrocities to survive, #TheWalkingDead is no stranger to controversy. More recently, it received its fair share of criticism for the violence depicted at the beginning of Season 7. Now, the show is wrapped in another surprising piece of controversy, which has to do with Season 6 and merchandise.
Primark has pulled a range of Walking Dead t-shirts from its stores after the design was accused of being racist. The shirt in question is this one:
The piece of clothing sports a phrase spoken by the infamous Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), when he was deciding who to kill out of Rick's group during the Season 6 finale:
"Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe."
So how is this t-shirt offensive? Is it the bloody baseball bat with barbed wire wrapped around it, parodying a brutal moment from the series? No, it's all about the rhyme. British couple Ian and Gwen Lucraft argue the message was incredibly racist, stating that the rhyme originally included the line "catch a n----r by his toes". That's despite the fact the modern version of the phrase has "tiger" in place of the N-word. Ian said:
“We were shocked when we came face to face with a new t-shirt with a racially explicit graphic and text. It was fantastically offensive and I can only assume that no-one in the process of ordering it knew what they were doing or were aware of its subliminal messages.”
According to Mr. Lucraft, who is a Methodist minister, the t-shirt...
“...relates directly to the practice of assaulting black people in America. It is directly threatening of a racist assault, and if I were black and were faced by a wearer I would know just where I stood.”
The couple wrote a letter to Paul Marchant, Primark's chief executive, and the decision was made to pull the t-shirts from the store. The store released this statement:
“The t-shirt in question is licensed merchandise for the US television series, 'The Walking Dead', and the quote and image are taken directly from the show. Any offense caused by its design was wholly unintentional and Primark sincerely apologizes for this."
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Considering the rhyme was updated a long time ago, it's unlikely that The Walking Dead was using it as a racial slur or that most people even knew that was the original version of the rhyme, and not "tiger." The Walking Dead is full of gory violence that has you holding a bucket for a week just in case you have memories of what you saw; so it's surprising to see people looking for controversy outside of that realm. But what do you think?