The Urban Legend of Tommy Hilfiger

The Urban Legend of Tommy Hilfiger

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The Truth about the Rumor of Tommy Hilfiger
A big controversy happened, the well-known Fashion Designer Tommy Hilfiger was on the Oprah show. She asked him if it was true if he said he did not make clothes for Blacks and Asians, his clothes were intended for upper class White people. When he admitted he said those things, she asked him to leave. This E-Mail is an Urban Legend. Juicy Emails like these are simply for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken seriously. Like junk mail it should be emptied into the recycle bin.
People assume if an E-mail is sent to them or if a friend mentioned the incident then it must be true. How could someone write something so mean and cruel and spread it through emails? Thomas Craughwell explains that “fear, paranoia, envy and suspicion of unfamiliar” are reasons why urban legends such as Tommy Hilfiger are passed around (Craughwell 10). People read newspapers such as the Inquirer and read junk E-mails at work to make the day go by. Richard Roeper describes people as “today’s information consumer”, who are “savvy, jaded and cynical” (Roeper 10). It’s no secret that people can be gullible when it comes to interesting news. Roper states that people are as “willing as ever to believe stories that happened to best friend’s brother’s accountant” (Roper 11). People have gotten too lazy to look up information for themselves and look for quick fixes, instead of facts. The Tommy Hilfiger Rumor has all of the signs of the urban legend. As Defined by Craughwell “urban legends are usually passed by word of mouth and by E-mail”. Urban legends have many variations (Craughwell 9,13). David Emery from About.com has two of the most common variations of the E-mail in his article. Before there were any rumors of him on the Oprah Show, It was a “news article” in a “Philippian tabloid in 1996” as Barbara Mikkelson explains in her article.
According to Barbara Mikkelson, the rumor was altered again with him being on the CNN style show with Elsa Klensch . In this rumor he did not comment on black people. He commented about “Asian people not looking right in the clothes” (Barbara Mikkelson). Although the rumors are being shown to be not true, they are still being passed around to this day (David Emery). People who are in the know about rumors made inquiries to the Anti Defamation League.

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On July 11 2001, the organization wrote a letter to Tommy Hilfiger investigating the matter. They found the endless emails and faxes about the hoax false (ADL.org). Oprah admits on her show that she had never met the man. She also posted her remarks on her website incase anybody as missed the January 11, 1999 episode (Oprah.com).
According to Barbara Mikkelson, many black people do not buy his clothes and have “boycotted his clothes” because of the email rumor (Barbara Mikkelson). The rumor gave Tommy Hilfiger a bad reputation. How would someone feel if someone was spreading email of them around and people without giving a thought pass around this lie? . People should think that if the information is really true a trusted news source such as major network news, or even David Letterman (David Emery). The bad part is people still assume the rumors are true. Although, the rumor is being pasted all over the Internet as being false, it still seems to be the best kept secret. People bash him in forums such as soompi.com despite the truth (Soompi.com). According to David Emery the information is available with a click of a mouse and can be accessed in “two minutes” just by typing “Hilfiger racist on Google”. Tommy saying Racist comments on Oprah or any other show is a hoax. Anyone who believes other wise has been fooled into believing an Urban Legend (David Emery). If you do not have the time to research any email that may sound true, it is best not to take seriously what is being passed around through email, when in doubt do not send the email because you never know it’s not true. It could harm people’s reputation as it did for Tommy Hilfiger.


Works Cited
Foxman, Abraham H. “ADL Letter to Tommy Hilfiger”. July 11 2001. Anti-Defamation League. April 7, 2005.
Barbara Mikkelson. “Tommy Rot”. 12 February 2000. About.com. April 7, 2005.
David Emery. Tommy Hilfiger 'Racist' Rumor Is Fashionable Again: Part 1 and Part 2. December 16, 1998. About. April 7, 2005.
Forum Room. Racism with Tommy Hilfiger. November 15, 2004. Soompi. April 7, 2005.
Roeper, Richard. Urban Legends: The Truth Behind All Those Deliciously Entertaining Myths that are absolutely, positively, 100% Not True. New Jersey: The Career Press, Inc, 1999
Thomas J. Craughwell. Alligators in the Sewer And 222 other Urban Legends: Absolutely True Stories That Happened to A Friend…Of A Friend…Of A Friend. New York: Black Kog and Lebenthal Publishers, Inc, 1999.
Winfrey, Oprah. “The Truth”. January 11, 2001. Oprah.com. April 9, 2005. .
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