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Inappropriate Image

What does it mean when people assume a parody about remodeling is real? 

August 18, 2021
Big Johnson Contracting

Recently, a friend of mine sent out a group text from the airport. The text was a photo of a man in the security line wearing this t-shirt. In case you can't see it, the shirt says, "Big Johnson Contractors" and at the bottom it reads, "Don't stop until you get drilled, nailed, and hammered." 

My friend's text said, "Yikes. Would you hire?"

Another friend replied, "I love that someone designed that shirt, and was like, yeah, let's sell it. Eek."

My friend answered, "It feels like their whole business model."

I looked up Big Johnson's Contracting and discovered that rather than one really inappropriate contractor, it's a whole line of tshirts that were a big thing in the 90s, but still sell today. The shirts advertise fictitious companies—there's Big Johnson's Plumbing, Big Johnson's Lawn Care and so on. They all show women with massive, cartoony breasts and a super sexual tagline at the bottom.

I had never heard of Big Johnson and neither had my friends. All of them assumed it was a real company. That made me start thinking. 

Why did the brains behind Big Johnson decide to parody certain industries while leaving others alone. There is no Big Johnson Financial Advisors t-shirt, or Big Johnson Occupational Therapy.  

It's because the industries chosen already have a certain image and Big Johnson is capitalizing on that. The shirts don't offend me—I'm thicker skinned than that—but it's disappointing that after tens of thousands of remodelers work for decades to professionalize the industry's image, my friends still assume that the shirt was real. 

Remodeling has come a long way since the mid 90s, but clearly we still have a way to go. 


About the Author

About the Author

Erika Mosse is the director of content for Professional Remodeler. Contact her at emosse@sgcmail.com or 972.803.4014.



So glad to hear it is not a real company!

I was on an ASA racing pit crew and the sponsor was Big Johnson. It was embarassing in the 90's to where that stuff let alone today. I remember a person from the gas company saw the shirt hanging in the hall and was tickled pink when I gave the shirt.

Hi Erika,

I agree that under no circumstances is the Big J parody appropriate or PC. However, some businesses in remodeling and construction continue to tarnish our industry. They earn this reputation with their actions and unfortunately consumers often distruss the category as a whole. We act as professionals and agents for our homeowners without discrimination.

Thanks for all you all you do!

Gregg Cantor, President/CEO
Murray Lampert Design, Build, Remodel
San Diego, California

There are other shirts for big Johnson, it's not just a trade's thing.......BUT It was a time when people were NOT so offended/triggered by everything they saw, read or heard. It was a time when people could LAUGH and have their own opinion and not be judged for doing so. Ahhhh where the good times have gone, where we could do and wear what we wanted without being judged/publically chastised/or cancelled. A person with an entrepreneurial mindset could make a buck if people liked what they sold, and to some extent that still exists until some wants to yell and scream about how what they see/hear/smell OFFENDS them....#unwoke.hr to find and hire the employees who are willing to work and not want to change and drive your company broke for being woke.

The fact that the author appears to be completely surprised by the fact that this is not a real contractor is laughable in itself. In the construction industry you used to need to have "thick skin". I still see guys on my projects wearing stuff like this (but, we are not around homeowners). I guess this industry has "gone soft" (pun intended) as well.

Not the guy's shirt, but the lack of your historical and cultural awareness.
Which seems to be typical of today's young bucks.
Because, after all, every generation has thought that "my generation" was better than the generation before them.
As you get older, you realize that most of the earlier generations actually weren't that dumb or Neanderthal.
(There's nothing new under the sun.)

The shirts were not inspired by negative views of our industry at the time.
They were inspired by the desired outcome expressing sexual innuendo for that sake's only.

What is really amazing is when people like you get offended by this (granted inappropriate) shirt and then defend the sexualized dress of today's public and consider the actual sexualization and objectifying of people to be okay.

The wearer of the shirt probably has an empty "F's" bucket and totally succeeded in his quest to offend as many people as possible while he's forced to wear a mask in order to fly the unfriendly skies.
(See the 1991 Truevald mask study of 3000+ surgeries - if you can find it.)

You probably don't like the "It's not gay if it's TSA" shirts either.
And I'd bet you'd just love my "Fauci Lied People Died" shirt too.

If you want to ban or block me from your company's publications, knock yourself out.
There are multitudes of us out here who done with the self-righteousness.
We have ceased to care what people like you think.

If you would start letting people just live their lives as they see fit without your self-absorbed righteous judgment, in time they will be a lot more open to your suggestions.
For gosh's sake, you're in an airport.
He is not on the jobsite, he’s not in the office, and he certainly is not looking for your approval.
If he knew you were offended, it would have made his day.
You are welcome to care about them when they are on the job.
But after they check out and take off your uniform, you've got to leave them alone.
As long as what they do off the clock does not affect what they do on the clock, you don’t get a vote.

They work to fund their lives.
They do not live to work for your company.
And right now, it’s an employee’s market.
You could fire your worst POS employee today.
And one of us would probably hire them by tomorrow.
The skilled labor shortage and material shortage really kicked in back in 2017.
It has been going on well before the 2020 fiasco.
Welcome to our world.
If that guy has a journeyman license and can pass a UA, he’ll have a job before the end of the week.
It’s a good thing you’re not in H.R.

Stop being offended by things that have nothing to do with the building industry.

Stop being a social justice warrior trying to find any lame excuse to champion your "cause".

Deal with the fact that people don't all agree with your "socially aware" viewpoint, nor should they.

In short, get a life.

Erika replies: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I mentioned in the piece that the shirt did not offend me, my concern was the image that it portrayed for the industry. I'm saddened that the industry is still seen as an area where that kind of parody fits. In other words, a lot of people perceive that contractors are like Big Johnson, so much so that my friends assumed that the shirt was real. Are you saying this is not a problem? If so, can you discuss your position? I'm interested in your thoughts. My larger thought on your comment is that it's unfortunate we live in a time where the moment people disagree with each other the name calling begins. Rather than disagree with the ideas that I put forth, your comment attacks me as a person. How are we to move forward in this country when this is the go-to method of communicating? 

The shirt is a joke/humorous offering from a company who has the job of selling T-Shirts!!! This editorial has NOTHING to do with the issues facing our industry. You must be at a loss for an issue to use to pontificate on in an attempt to forward a WOKE political agenda. This is so far removed from what the purpose of the magazine should be that it invites JUSTIFIABLE criticism .

I laughed when I read the T-shirt. By your "holier than thou" standards I must be some kind of social deviant who needs "retraining".

EVERYONE has the right to be offended. NO ONE has the right NOT to be offended. This "social justice warrior" editorial acts as if no politically correct individual should ever be "offended" and WOKE people who are "offended" can somehow force others into their mindset. A sense of "reality" escapes that argument. Some people may be "offended" by who I vote for, but they do NOT have the right to tell me change my opinions.

With everything that is going on in this industry, price issues, employment issues, regulations, etc., I respectfully suggest that there are other, more important and pressing items than a humorous T-Shirt you find "offensive" . May want to deal with that reality for a while and focus on the issues that are relevant to the VAST majority of your readers.

Erika replies: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Pro Remodeler regularly covers importnat topics pertaining to the industry, including the labor and supply chain issues you mention. I wrote this piece because I thought the fact that my friends believed that the shirt was real raised an interesting point about how contractors are perceived by the general public. I disagree that the industry's image is irrelevant as a topic. As with the other commenter, I'm saddened that you resorted to calling me names rather than arguing with my ideas. I mentioned in the piece that I am not offended by the shirt. But I don't think it's an accurate image of the industry, nor do I think it's the image we want. I'm honestly confused as to how you read more into my words, and would welcome another response. Thanks.

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