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The background is that Pratt went for a stroll with his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger. Someone photographed them while he was wearing a Gadsden flag shirt. That’s it. That’s the story. But like everything nowadays, the Internet found its outrage.
The story, which never should’ve been turned into one, got dragged into the limelight courtesy of Yahoo Movies UK. Oh the irony — someone from the U.K. writing an ill-informed piece about the Gadsden flag. The original title of the Yahoo piece was “Chris Pratt criticised for ‘white supremacist’ T-shirt.” You’ll notice there isn’t a link to that story. Well, that’s because we don’t want to give them any traffic. Just take our word for it. Yahoo has since revamped the headline to read, “Chris Pratt criticised for T-shirt choice.”
What the Gadsden Flag Actually Represents
A man by the name of Christopher Gadsden designed the flag in 1775. The Continental Marines used it at the forefront of the American Revolution. The flag represents patriotism. It represents the fight against tyranny.
In her Yahoo article, author Hanna Flint — whose byline has since been replaced by “Yahoo Movies UK” — acknowledged the flag’s origins. She also overlooked them and decided to focus on the following:
“Although it is one of the symbols and flags used by the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team, Metallica, as well as some libertarian groups, over the years the flag has been adopted by Far Right political groups like the Tea Party, as well as gun-toting supporters of the Second Amendment.
“It has therefore become a symbol of more conservative and far right individuals and, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the US, it also is ‘sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts.'”
First off, what’s wrong with supporting the Second Amendment? Second, yes, a symbol can certainly evolve over time. Those elements Flint mentioned are true. Nothing good comes from racism. But to immediately crucify someone wearing the symbol because of lesser-known ideologies it might be associated with is reckless. Flint then turned to Twitter to support her story — because, you know, social media is a great source to back your cause.
One of the unfortunate parts about the Internet — namely social media — is that it gives everyone a voice. It doesn’t matter if “everyone” is misinformed or flat-out wrong, they still get to publish their opinion. From there, stories that shouldn’t exist often spiral out of control. And here’s where we are with Chris Pratt and his Gadsden flag shirt.
Flint referenced the “many” who took offense to the T-shirt. At the time she published her article, the “many” was actually less than a dozen people. Now that the non-story has hit the ground running, those numbers have climbed. Here are a few of the original “outrage” Tweets:
— Areola Grande (@crisismattie) July 16, 2019
Agh, I was really hoping this guy wasn’t as bad as he seems to be. Funny people shouldn’t be on the haters side
— Sebastián Píriz (@SebastianPiriz) July 16, 2019
Another Tweet came from Amanda Clarke (@akclarke_) who referenced Pratt’s character on the show Parks & Recreation: “Andy Dwyer would never wear a shirt emblazoned with a white supremacist dogwhistle. Chris Pratt is unequivocally the worst Chris.”
We imagine Pratt woke up before his walk with his wife and looked in his dresser for clothes. He saw the shirt and thought, “There’s one of my favorite patriotic shirts. I sure do love this country.” Then he put it on and went on his stroll. Now he’s being associated with white supremacy. But again, in this digital age when people are looking for problems that don’t exist, this is what happens.
Ultimately, after this story was blown out of proportion, there were those who came to Pratt’s defense.
Am I insane or are people really saying the Revolutionary emblem is a sign of white power?
Do we really have to play the shitty Metallica song for you guys?
— MaShiKai (@TheMaShiKai) July 17, 2019
I knew I liked this guy. Gotta find me one of these shirts.
— Mark Boone (@markboone219) July 17, 2019
There were plenty of other Tweets supporting Pratt; and even more asking where to find his shirt. But the damage is done. Another day, another example of dangerous “journalism” — if that’s what you want to call the initial story — trying to make a story out of nothing. Another author more worried about clicks than truth.