Owl play: Macron’s T-shirt logo inspires conspiracy theories
Was it a bird, a subliminal message or a secret sign? Or was it just a logo of an owl on a T-shirt?
Hours after Emmanuel Macron’s attempt to persuade French youngsters to get vaccinated on Monday, the buzz across the country was less of Covid shots and more of mysterious clothing symbols.
The president had swapped his trademark grey suit, white shirt and tie, for the more trendy look of a black, short-sleeved T-shirt for his question-and-answer TikTok appearance.
Unfortunately, the subsequent flurry of speculation and conspiracy theories suggested some gave more of a hoot about the white owl logo on the T-shirt than about Macron’s message.
What did the owl logo made up of geometric shapes mean? Was there a subliminal message to the choice of apparel? Was the Elysée public relations team conveying a secret message to the sharp-eyed? Was the president part of a secret cabal?
An initial theory suggested it was the logo of the Bohemian Club, a political group created in California in 1872 and named after what Americans saw as the belle époque European bohemian movement, a counterculture to the bourgeoisie. Today it is an exclusively male club made up of businessmen and politicians from the US, Europe and Asia. But while the Bohemian Club has an owl logo, it is not the same as that on the president’s T-shirt and is accompanied by the red letters BC.
To add to the conspiracy confusion, there are two words in French translated as “owl” in English: hibou (meaning an owl with feathered ear tufts) and chouette (an owl without tufts). The hibou is a sign of bad luck or, for the Romans, death’s messenger, representing black magic at worst and a symbol of sadness, loneliness and melancholy at best. The chouette, by contrast, is a servant of the Greek goddess Athena, a spiritual guide in Celtic culture, and also a term in French meaning “super”.
Le Figaro said the president’s look was “sober, direct, relaxed and above all social friendly”, reminding readers of his YouTube challenge with popular French stars Mcfly and Carlito back in May.
There has been no official response from the Elysée to questions about the T-shirt.
However, as capitalism, like conspiracies, abhors a vacuum, a similar T-shirt was being sold online as “the Macron Tik-Tok T-shirt” for €19.99.