Amazon Blocks The Sale of Gross, Auto-Generated "Keep Calm and Rape Her" Shirts

Illustration for article titled Amazon Blocks The Sale of Gross, Auto-Generated "Keep Calm and Rape Her" Shirts

The whole "Keep Calm and [X]" trend has been a fun little meme for merchandisers everywhere, ever since the now-public domain WWII slogan was rediscovered. But a seller on Amazon might have taken the opportunity too far. So far, in fact, that Amazon found itself having to take down some offers for a "Keep Calm and Rape Her" shirt. Ew.


The shirts, sold by a company called "Solid Gold Bomb," all utilized an easily manipulated "Keep Calm And [Transitive Verb] [Direct Object]" format. In order to maximize reach, it seems the company didn't actually make the shirts and sell them on Amazon, but rather recruited a (uncensored and poorly considered) dictionary to spit out designs and have them all made on order. At least that's their story. What could possibly go wrong?

What did go wrong was a variety of offensive transitive verb and unfortunate direct object pairings. "Keep Calm and Rape Her/Them/Him," "Keep Calm and Hit/Knife/Punch Her," and undoubtedly a variety of other unseemly madlibs. After complaints to Amazon, the listings were taken down, and now Solid Gold Bomb is crouching behind its algorithmically generated excuse. The site has shut off all its social media outlets, and has now posted the following message on the "contact us" page of its website:

We have been informed of the fact that we were selling an offensive t-shirt primarily in the UK. This has been immediately deleted as it was and had been automatically generated using a scripted computer process running against hundreds of thousands of dictionary words.

Any offensive items that are remaining are certainly in the deletion queue and will be removed as soon as the processing is complete. Although we did not in any way deliberately create the offensive t-shirts in question and it was the result of a scripted programming process that was compiled by only one member of our staff, we accept the responsibility of the error and our doing our best to correct the issues at hand.

So just keep calm, and consider them scumbags. Or lazy. Or hair-brained. One of those is bound to be accurate. [The Guardian]

Image via @feminismitten



Reader's guide for young people: In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland, beginning the Second World War. England, which had a mutual assistance pact with Poland, duly declared war on Germany. Everyone expected massive air attacks on English cities, and the government prepared a morale-boosting poster that urged people to "Keep Calm and Carry On". The attacks came as expected, killing nearly fifty thousand, but for some reason they never displayed the poster. Someone found one a while back and "Keep Calm and [whatever]" has since become a meme.

In addition to posters and things the British government hired an American movie studio to make a propaganda film showing a middle-class British family nobly bearing hardship and loss, doing their bit, keeping calm and carrying on. They didn't use that phrase but it was the same message. It was intended to show the British people how they were expected to behave, and it succeeded beyond anyone's wildest expectations. Mrs. Miniver, directed by William Wyler and starring Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon was a huge hit in both the UK and US and was the model for behavior in the war. It won six Oscars in 1943 including Best Picture.

- Mrs. Miniver, MGM, 1942