The Anatomy of a H-Y Shirt

While the Harvard-Yale Game is all about letting loose, old habits die hard, and shutting off your brain can be ...
By Charlotte H. Alter

While the Harvard-Yale Game is all about letting loose, old habits die hard, and shutting off your brain can be tougher than you think. So we’ve taken a cerebral approach to analyzing some of this year’s decidedly uncerebral Harvard-Yale T-shirt designs.

Design One presents Yale as analogous to “jail” by playing off the recognizable visual style of the board game “Monopoly,” a popular 20th-century pastime played by members of the middle class in imitation of the real estate dealings of the moneyed elite. The front of the design presents an image of a jailed convict, with the words “In Yale” flanking the ominous barred window. The prisoner’s enigmatic gaze confronts the beholder, challenging the viewer to imagine the atrocities that must occur at the nation’s second best college. The back of the design is even bleaker, featuring a candid glimpse of the police brutality and animal cruelty that plague Yale’s urban campus. Harvard, on the other hand, has recently seen no violence whatsoever.

Design Two alludes to the recent film “The Social Network.” Imitating the font and composition of the movie posters, this design presents Yale as “the woeful network,” twisting the famed tagline into “You don’t get to 500 million friends. You just don’t.” This design is a bit obvious in its exploitation of Harvard’s recent glamorization, and its attack on Yale is a little misdirected. After all, they too had an alum influence hundreds of millions of lives, invade our privacy, define the decade, and recently get the Hollywood biopic treatment.

Design Nine depicts a well-drawn cartoon bulldog in front of a faded-out Yale, with an asterisk that reads “Safety School Since 1701.” While this design is considerably less clever than its competitors, the bulldog is extremely well-depicted and frankly, adorable. The blue chiaroscuro on the folds of bulldog flesh is especially convincing and—dare we say—cuddly. The main weakness of this poster is in the message; accusing Yale of being a safety school only reinforces the stereotype that Harvard kids are condescending and snotty. But just look at that chiaroscuro.

For The Moment