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Stuff White People Like #104: Wondering When Minorities Will Stop Doing Weird Shit

By Jesse Taylor
Tuesday, June 17, 2008 0:31 EDT
 

imageBelle Waring notes some hope in the power of Negrosity on the horizon: Mickey Kaus is hoping and Mary Battiata is wondering (the distinction is different, as Kaus seems like a befuddled white guy who just really hates the silly shit some black people do, while Battiata seems cluelessly naive about the whole matter) whether or not Barack Obama’s election will do away with the baggy clothes and hippity-hop gun music.

Lately I’ve been wondering what an Obama White House might mean for the future of bling. For the fate of heavy gold, medallions, below-the-butt denim, the whole hip-hop gangsta fashion habit.

Given that we don’t elect The Official Black President until summer of 2010 (the election is actually scheduled for the same day as Election Day this year, but, you know, Colored People Time), I don’t think that Obama’s election will give the final nod for all of Black America to get our grown man on. Black monoliths do not run the entire black community, even if we all can recite one of several Chris Rock jokes at the drop of a kufi.

What if January 20, 2009 turned out to be not just a cultural and clothing pivot point for adults — a return to the minimalism of sleek, 60s-era sharkskin suits, the containment of golf-ball sized Barbara Bush costume pearls — but a watershed fashion moment for teenaged boys? Picture it. On Inauguration Day next year, thousands and thousands of young men and boys from city street corners to suburbs, look up from their X-Boxes and catch a glimpse of the impeccable President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama climbing the steps of the Capitol and suddenly feel… unfashionable. Out of it. Old.

Because we all know where black teenage males in the hood get their inspiration from – famous middle-aged people. I’ll never forget when I was a kid and everyone was in those Cosby sweaters…man, that was a hot ass summer.

What if they are overcome by the same stunned, something’s-happening-here feeling that teenagers in the early 60s, their closets full of sock hop regalia, felt when they first laid eyes on The Beatles in 1964, on the nationally televised Ed Sullivan Show.

Motherfucker, are you out of your blessed fucking mind? The “gangsta” style and the “bling” you so thankfully appropriated from Weezy and the Hot Boyz are not the fashion choices of 1950s white America. The oversized white tee you see is not from Black Hollister, much as you might wish. It hearkens back to prison time, when gang members wore baggy clothes because that’s what the DOC gave them. And prison, thankfully, is not the black sock hop.

Baggy clothes and the hip-hop culture are statements about the pervasiveness and inescapability of crime in black inner-city neighborhoods. The shit ain’t keen, dumbass.

For adults, this kind of moment is, at most, something to take note of. To a teenager, it’s a gale force warning of imminent social tsunami, an urgent prod from the eyeballs and the amygdala that to everything there is a season, and now is the time to change, change, change. Ask not what you can do for your closet, but what your closet, if ignored, can do to you.

From a friend to a jackass, this is the season of shutting the fuck up.

The relationship of clothing to behavior is real. Clothes may not “make the man,” but they shape the mind in ways large and small. Ask any stay-at-home parent, freelance writer or invalid who has spent one too many days in baggy sweats and stained T-shirts and begins to notice (in a semi-alarmed, detached sort of way, of course) a dwindling of discipline and energy. The well-known Rx for this condition is a shower and a change into grown-up clothes, the kind with seams that may pinch the body, but can help focus the head.

Maybe they can go get a job serving at the malt shop, too! You know, right next to where Punkinhead got shot last Friday.

Until Barack Obama came along, the most visible pop culture exemplar of 1960s suit-and-tie style was the tightly-wound Rev. Louis Farrakhan. But Farrakhan, for all his former high visibility, was never mainstream. It’s no surprise that he failed to inspire a national craze for slim suits and buffed oxfords.

There’s a black man up top pointing at you. It’s not a gun.

Everyone Knows

By Amanda Marcotte

Hee, Matt made a funny. Addressing yet another article that peddles in the idea that Keith Olbermann’s success is a miracle, because liberals traditionally fail on TV, he says: How many failed attempts were there, exactly? My recollection of the relevant history is that first O’Reilly was successful. Then, because you’re not allowed to put liberals on television, networks responded to his success by putting more conservatives on. Then someone at MSNBC had the crazy…

 

Daddy Issues

By Jesse Taylor
Monday, June 16, 2008 21:25 EDT

McCain campaign, step away from the camera (the bus tour video). My three favorite parts: 1.) The Republican campaign uniform. I noticed this on the campaign, as well – it really does seem like all Republican male staffers own closets full of the same powder blue shirt and pleated khakis,…

 

The Liberal Blogger Employment Act

By Jesse Taylor

Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!…

 

Laughing and then throwing up in your mouth a little

By Amanda Marcotte

I reviewed some anti-choice songs on this week’s podcast, with clips and everything. You have rap, heavy metal, and of course, wretched pop. Music snobbery mixed with reproductive rights—I had a blast making it. Except for the part where I actually had to comb through anti-choice music for clips.…

 

I Sell Pro-Silence iPods, Too

By Jesse Taylor

“Pro-life” drugstores are on the rise, marking the advent of stores that appear to be constructed in response to virtually no consumer demand whatsover. The pharmacy is one of a small but growing number of drugstores around the country that have become the latest front in a conflict pitting patients’…

 

Congress = Pwned

By Jesse Taylor

The National Review has been going predictably apeshit over the upholding of habeas corpus since the Supreme Court narrowly affirmed that the Constitution isn’t made of Charmin, but this bit by Andrew McCarthy makes me giggle: It is difficult to single out the most outrageous aspect of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s…

 

I Got Tubes!

By Jesse Taylor

Internet campaigning has a ton of misconceptions behind it, especially as we enter into the third major cycle (2004 and 2006 being the first two) of it. Ben Adler in the Politico (complete with really stupid composite image of McCain and Obama) writes about whether or not McCain’s online operation…

 

Family values – from Massachusetts to California

By pams

It’s a landmark day as gay and lesbians couples will be able to marry in the Golden State starting at 5:01 PM PT. Here is a “California Marriage 101” primer. CBS has released a poll (full results here) on support for marriage equality: * 30% say same-sex couples should be…

 

Converging right wing fundamentalism

By Amanda Marcotte

Having tangled the other day with 9/11 Truthers at Firedoglake in a thread that was supposed to be a book salon for Matt Taibbi, I got to thinking (because of comments David Neiwert made in the thread) about the allure of conspiracy theories. What bothers me about them is that…

 
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