The Birth of an Icon

Monty Panesar is an English bowler who has recently emerged as an important new player for England. But this post is not about Cricket, but about how Mr. Panesar’s striking looks are manifesting on t-shirts. Without further ado here is a picture of Mr. Panesar:


The first thing that needs to be said is that Mr. Panesar is a Sikh, not a Muslim. But that does not stop the purveyors of imagery from using his looks in certain ways.

One of the more interesting is a t-shirt company called Redmolitov which is mainly devoted to selling t-shirts with iconic images of Stalin and Mao etc. to those who have failed, perhaps, to notice that the revolution has hit some serious snags on its way to world domination. On their Panesar offering Monty is shouting with his fist clenched in what those of us familiar with cricket know is a celebration of getting his opponent out. He looks for all the world like a Jihadi in action. I wont reproduce their proprietary image here but respect the very large capitalist copyright notice they have emblazoned on the image – just click here to see it.

Unfortunately, this example of ideological confusion goes beyond t-shirts. Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9-11 portrays Saddam’s thugs as akin to the American Minutemen of the Revolutionary War. And then there is this quote from George Galloway – the English MP much enamored of Saddam Hussein:

Islam is the last unconquered territory. The Soviet Union is defeated. Socialism is defeated. Nationalism is depressed. But, Islam is unconquered. And because Islam commands the believer to reject injustice and tyranny, this makes Islam automatically in a collision course with these tyrants, Bush and Blair. And, Islam has millions of soldiers. Millions of soldiers to resist this globalisation. (Source: Normblog, 2/2006 link no longer available)

At least Gorgeous George is not buying Redmolotov t-shirts with an eager heart awaiting the inevitable triumph of Communism. Leaving aside that the t-shirt company is a capitalist enterprise exploiting those eager hearts, poor old Monty isn’t even a Muslim, never mind a radical one.

Some images of the t-shirts were shown during an interview with Monty on Channel 9 here in Australia – the interviewer comparing them to Che Guevara t-shirts. I believe this was one of the images shown on TV and is an unofficial fan produced effort available here:


I think there is conscious irony here – using the Che like image on the t-shirt along with the faux fearsome Islamic radical image to playfully strike fear into the hearts of the cricketing opposition. In the same playful vein Panesar fans here in Australia came to the cricket decked out with beards and black head gear. They got up to things like mimicking the umpire’s signals in unison – looking for all the world like synchronized mullahs. I seriously doubt that the send up, under cover of cheering on Monty, was all that unconscious.

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