You maybe have already heard that Thirty Seconds To Mars, Jared Leto’s super-serious/quasi-vanity musical outfit, sells some pretty awful apparel. Jezebel ranked some of their worst items (by “Mortification Level” which, just, yeah), while LaineyGossip posted a deep-dive on the hypocrisy of that very sexist “Model Salaries Hoodie.” You know the one: it’s Pepto pink and Jared was wearing it in front of some paparazzi and also it’s just got the names and salaries of some famous beautiful women on it for no good goddamn reason other than some half-cocked commentary on ‘Murica and/or to use those very women to promote Jared’s band.
Roxana and I have been
stewing calmly, rationally discussing this merchandise line over the course of the past day, and honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing anything up because others have already covered it so well. But the more we expressed our outrage talked, the more I realized that I still had questions — questions that hadn’t already been answered elsewhere. Because the thing is: this line is bad. So bad. But it’s worse than just the model salary hoodie, or the one that only lists male American artists or the one that thinks Jesus is an American name. There’s more wrong with it than even just that t-shirt with Jared Leto as Jesus, though that is some fuckery (yes, I know they have a song called “Walk on Water” and no, I don’t care). Nope, the Thirty Seconds To Mars merch has a lot that’s wrong with it, and I wanted to get to the bottom of it — in true Pajiba Investigates fashion.
And by that I mean: I wasted my morning, learned nothing, forever fucked up my Google search algorithm, and made a LOT of mistakes.
Mistake #1 was visiting the band’s shop page in the first place. Because wouldn’t you know it — it’s rigged to autoplay their music from the get-go. So uh, fair warning. Once I turned my volume off and could start browsing in peace, I was able to focus on their aesthetic, which seems to be “let’s put some vaguely thematically-tied words on some things and make it colorful.” In addition to models and names, there’s a hoodie that lists American brands (because why promote just Google or Amazon or McDonald’s when you can wear them all!), and a t-shirt that lists strains of California weed (because they know their audience). Mostly you get the sense that the band is overcharging for shit they hired an unpaid intern to research and design in a single day — and to be fair, if Thirty Seconds To Mars did pay for these designs, they should ask for their money back.
It doesn’t end there though! Perhaps the most baffling is their “American Hot Topics Sweatshirt” ($60), which lists only four topics:
I mean, it’s not wrong really. Those certainly are some topics that people talk about! But it’s lazy. Why restrict it to only four? Or, if you’re going to list four, why wouldn’t “gun control” or “sexual misconduct” or “police brutality” or “fresh water” or “climate change” or “diverse representations in media” or “voter registration” or, I dunno, “keto” or “SponCon” or “Influencer” make the cut. There are two tech terms, and two Trump-related topics listed. But there are a whole lot more hot topics in America than just that.
And if you’re wondering why this is all related to “America” I should clarify that “America” is the title of their last album — and in fact that “words + bright color” aesthetic is ripped straight from the cover art for that album. Which brings me to this shirt, which actually just recreates that cover art on a purple long sleeve tee:
Yes: Those are sex positions. The same sex positions that are listed on the cover of “America.” And no, “Face” IS NOT A FUCKING SEX POSITION. I mean, oral sex is. I guess “riding” a face is (hell, even Frank Zappa wrote a song about that). But that’s not what it says. I can only imagine that “Face” is when you, I dunno, slap your genitals on someone’s face, but not for oral or for tea-bagging? Look, I was so confused by this that I went to the website the shirt claims it got these positions from, AskMen.com, and I searched that website for their coverage of sexual positions. That, friends, was Mistake #2. And though AskMen.com can teach you how to execute “The Pancake” or “The Viennese Oyster” or “The Superhero” — even they didn’t list anything called simply “Face.”
(By the way, Mistake #3 was me Googling “Is The Crab A Sex Position?” but at least I can tell you that yes, it is one, and you’re welcome, I guess.)
Finally, I got all bent out of shape at their “Camp Mars” retro-woodsy merch, until I realized that “Camp Mars” is the band’s annual summer festival in Malibu that apparently is run like an actual goddamn summer camp. Per Rolling Stone:
At Camp Mars, fans can relive their favorite summer camp activities with the chance to interact with the Jared Leto-led rock outfit. Camp Mars activities include hiking, yoga, art installations, meditation, games and, of course, music.
So — fine. But what this doesn’t explain is why most of the “Camp Mars” merch includes the hipster-batory tagline, “You Wouldn’t Understand”:
Oh, I beg to differ. I would understand. I would not, however, want. The idea of fucking off into the woods with a bunch of Leto-heads learning archery and meditation sounds like my own personalized circle of hell. And I already have a personalized circle of hell! It’s called “Making Plans With Difficult People Who Want Special Treatment And Also Can’t Make Up Their Damn Minds”!
Anyway, the rest of their merch is all shirts with lyrics or faux-’80s artwork. Though I’ll leave you with this shirt, which lists “Six American Fixations” but could really be called “Six Things Americans Prefer To Thirty Seconds To Mars”:
Though Bacon should be listed first, obvs.