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When Dandyism Becomes WTFery

I aim to dress up rather than dress down; this is old news. However, there comes a point at which sartorial agony crosses into ranting insanity, and George Will has just crossed it.

Long ago, when James Dean and Marlon Brando wore it, denim was, Akst says, “a symbol of youthful defiance.” Today, Silicon Valley billionaires are rebels without causes beyond poses, wearing jeans when introducing new products. Akst’s summa contra denim is grand as far as it goes, but it only scratches the surface of this blight on Americans’ surfaces. Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults (Seinfeld, Two and a Half Men) and cartoons for adults (King of the Hill). Seventy-five percent of American “gamers” — people who play video games — are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. In their undifferentiated dress, children and their childish parents become undifferentiated audiences for juvenilized movies (the six — so far — Batman adventures and Indiana Jones and the Credit-Default Swaps, coming soon to a cineplex near you). Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling — thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism — of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste. Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.

Er ... what? 0.o This isn't commentary on style, this is more like the paranoid ramblings of a schizophrenic.

The only reason I happened upon this is because kinkyturtle posted a link to it, commenting that it reminded him on one of my own posts on the subject of dress (I'm guessing it was this one). I am gratified that he was quick to point out the distinction between my wistful desire that people would dress better generally compared to this column's scattershot condemnation of anyone who doesn't Act Like a Grownup for Chrissake — but at the same time to be mentioned in the same context of such raving lunacy has given me pause.

So for the record: if you like denim, please, by all means wear it. I have no idea what George Will is smoking.

-The Gneech


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2009 07:59 pm (UTC)
..wow...someone needs to pull the stick outta their bum.

In the RIGHT jeans one can look quite adult and professional. The jeans need to be crisp and not full of holes. But Denim is far FAR from a juvenile fabric. Heck jeans where not invented for kids..but for their durability to be worn by ADULT gold prospectors.!

Edited at 2009-04-16 08:02 pm (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
"You two billion kids get off my lawn!!!"

-The Gneech
Apr. 16th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
*shakes a cane at them for good measure*
Apr. 16th, 2009 08:28 pm (UTC)
Is this the same guy who ranted about ice cream cones?
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:30 am (UTC)
Nope, that was Leon Kass, onetime chair of Bush's Council on Bioethics.
Apr. 16th, 2009 08:46 pm (UTC)
You, sir, are a dapper-dressing gentleman.

George Will has turned loony.

The difference is huge.
Apr. 16th, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
"Seventy-five percent of American “gamers” — people who play video games — are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote."

Apr. 16th, 2009 09:49 pm (UTC)
That's the line that really kinks my tail.

And I agree with softpaw: the right jeans can look pretty durned good.

Apr. 16th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
reused comment, apologies to the overlap
Oh, indeed, great-grandpa, it is laughable that even a single spoke in the machinery of our nation should be entrusted to such a man-child who would devote his attentions to some dumb game.
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:18 am (UTC)
I know, right? It's like he's trying to goad us into saying "Hey, f*** you, George" so he can point and say "Aha, you're being infantile and proving my point! Neener neener neener!" :}

Edited at 2009-04-17 09:30 am (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2009 09:16 pm (UTC)
Frighteningly enough, this piece makes sense to me. But then- I suspect he is pointing fingers at all those who are wearing the baggy, saggy, loose, faded beyond reasonable, torn, too-well-worn, should-have-been-turned-into-dishrags style of "Denim" that is all the rage among gang-bangers, gangsta-wannabes, and people who don't know what size they actually wear, because they could fit three of themselves into a single leg of the jeans they are currently wearing.
I doubt he's ever met one of the polite sort of cowboy/person who wears denim and makes it look sharp.

Now- I live in a redneck, tractor-intensive, Nascar worshiping region- I realize this. BUT I kid you not when I say that I went to the Opera one evening, and three rows down from me was a gentleman (And I use that term LOOSELY) in torn and faded jeans and a baseball hat. I don't recall what sort of shirt he wore, because all I wanted to do was step down, rip the hat from his head, and BEAT him to death with it.
But I didn't, because getting blood out of even a black cocktail dress is difficult.
Apr. 17th, 2009 01:21 am (UTC)
In my experience, gangbangers do not wear worn, holy or dirty jeans. At all. If they wear jeans, they wear it as part of a uniform. It is often even pressed.

May still be oversized and low-riding, mind you, but if so, it's uniformly so, and not done in a way that trips or requires frequent adjusting.

Apr. 17th, 2009 02:19 am (UTC)
hee! You must have a better class of gang? The ones around here have taken to walking around with one hand hanging onto their pants. And the cops catch them, more often than not- because they tried to run and went face first into the sidewalk, with pants around their knees.
Apr. 17th, 2009 02:27 am (UTC)
Hm. Well, these were San Diego 'bangers I used to see around, might be more regional than I had thought.
(Deleted comment)
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:04 am (UTC)
Denim is baby clothes? Has the author never seen a shell suit?
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:31 am (UTC)
If it didn't exist before the sixties... probably not. :}
Apr. 18th, 2009 07:13 am (UTC)
George Fwill is almost alllllllwwaaaaaays a big yawn.... totally.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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