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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Look at the Popular T-Shirt

Aired July 12, 2002 - 08:55   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question before the panel at this time is what is the most popular item of clothing in all the world? Why the plain and humble T-shirt of course. Actually, it's not plain at all anymore. It's getting a little recognition now. There's actually a new book out devoted entirely to T-shirt history.

Jeanne Moos cottoned to the subject and knitted together this little tale.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Is there something you'd like to get off your chest, or something on your chest that you can't get off your mind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Be quiet or, brain, or I'll stab you with a Q-Tip."

MOOS: Reporter: sometimes what's on your torso is over your head.

(on camera): What are you sorry about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know.

MOOS (voice-over): There are ads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's Coca-Cola.

MOOS: And there are parodies of ads. "Marijuana: over 1 billion stoned."

There's even a T-shirt featuring a T-shirt. Wait a minute. That's the new T-shirt book. It begins with the birth of the T-shirt in the military. By the 1950s, the T-shirt took off, thanks to screen idols like...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Marlon Brando in "A Streetcar Named Desire."

MOOS: While Brando's T-shirt ended up in shreds, James Deans' remained intact. Photos range from the tacky wet T-shirt contest to the ever classy Jackie. This isn't the first book on the subject. The white tee included one very black T-shirt. Then there are the relatives of the T-shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I actually call them wife beaters.

MOOS: Based on the stereotype of what a guy who beats his wife wears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they have one woman now that says man beater on it.

MOOS: From the Superman T-shirt worn by a dog, to those worn by guys eating dogs in the hot dog-eating contest, the T-shirt has become an omnipresent...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Walking bumper sticker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First, I don't like people reading my chest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, and this is an excuse sometime for men to kind of leer at your on the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I once had this T-shirt that said (EXPLETIVE DELETED) you, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) (EXPLETIVE DELETED). And like, I just got really annoyed when people kept looking at me.

MOOS (on camera): You know, I wondered what kind of guy wore that. It's right up there. Three out of five words that we can't show.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My boss kicked me out of work once when I was wearing it.

MOOS (voice-over): At a bagel store, this guy sued Amtrak after he got kicked off a train for wearing this T-shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't have to be gay, or straight, or bisexual.

MOOS: Take it from Adam Sandler in the movie "Big Daddy."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that, you guys wear the same sized T- shirt. That's cool.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: After Winona Ryder was arrested for shoplifting, she posed for a magazine in a "free Winona" T-shirt.

The concept of the basic white T has been perverted.

(on camera): Do you sell a lot of perverts?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

MOOS: As for the guy with the "damn, I'm good" T-shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honey, I'm so good. You can't imagine how good I am.

MOOS: What are you good at.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm good in everything. I'm a great folk singer.

(SINGING)

MOOS: It can be tough living up to your T-shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody knows that I'm a club singer.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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