Puma risks controversy with 'tommy gun' trainers
LONDON - Sportswear firm Puma is risking major controversy with a new range of trainers that carry images of machine guns and the message 'I steal for a living'.
Anti gun-campaigners have rounded on the German sportswear firm and its new range of trainers, which are named after the US bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde immortalised in the 1967 movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.
The trainers are to be launched in the UK later this month and comprise a his and hers range with Bonnie for girls, featuring a golden pistol on the heel, and Clyde for boys, with a Thompson machine gun, or tommy gun, as its heel-placed logo.
The trainers also carry the words "I steal for a living", the line spoken by Beatty in 'Bonnie & Clyde', famous as being one of first filmes to depict graphic violence and featuring the tagline "We rob banks".
While anti-gun campaigners have hit out at Puma, the sportswear firm has said the shoes and their logos are a "merely a playful interpretation of 1967 movie character Clyde Barrow's popular phrase 'I steal for a living'".
Lee Jasper, chairman of the Operation Trident Independent Advisory Group has slammed Puma and labelled it as "wildly irresponsible" in reproducing a gun emblem on the trainers. He has called for Puma to remove the trainers from the market.
The controversy is reminiscent of that that another sportswear firm, Reebok, sparked two years ago when it was accused of glamorisation of gun culture for ads featuring rapper 50 Cent in its "I am what I am" series.
Reebok eventually pulled those ads after they sparked fury among parents who bombarded advertising watchdogs with complaints. The campaign included a TV ad by New York agency mcgarrybowen, which involved the rapper counting to nine in reference to the number of times he is supposed to have been shot.
Michelle Forbes of campaign group Mothers Against Guns told the Sunday Mirror that she was astounded a big organisation could produce a pair of trainers on the back of people's grief to make money. Forbes' son was shot dead.
"How can they do this to people who have lost loved ones? There is no social conscience about the impact and effect it will have -- it's done with people's blood. You can just imagine one of these gun men preening themselves with a pair of these on. It makes me sick," she said.
A Puma spokesman said: "The limited-edition Clyde shoe is by no means intended to glamorise violence, but instead recognises the artistic and historical impact that the groundbreaking 'Bonnie & Clyde' movie had on Hollywood. Puma, like any creative and design-led company, occasionally borrows from pop culture for design inspiration. In this case, it is the legacy of the movie."
The real Bonnie and Clyde were killed on May 23 1934 near their Louisiana hideout after. They were shot by a posse of six officers having killed several police officers during their criminal run.
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