Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Kang Optimistic 

If aliens who watched us from afar -- not unlike Kang -- suddenly came down to earth and asked my opinion on what's wrong with America, I would not mention poverty, terrible as it is. Crime, which is booming here in Milwaukee, would also not come up, although it probably deserves mention. Terrorism, hot on everyone's mind for the last four years, would also not come up. Our preoccupation with always being correct -- our self-righteousness -- that I wouldn't mention either.

Why not, Will? These are important things. Why won't you tell the aliens about them?

Yeah, all right. I agree. They're important. But I'd rather look at the Constitution, not the code of laws. What kind of spirit lies within us to combat stated poverty, terrorism, crime, blah, blah, blah? I think the constitution of the American public is aptly gauged by our clothing. And not all of it -- I'll choose just one garment.

I'd talk about our jeans.

I'd tell the aliens that the if they entered any major department store, and if they walked over to where we sell the jeans, they would find that not just a large plurality, but a healthy majority of jeans sold in the United States are "pre-worn". I don't mean they're used. They are manufactured to look as if they have been worn down, scuffed up, dirtied.

Now, say what you will about the punk with a boring life who buys his pair of jeans, takes them home, and rips them to his satisfaction with a switch blade. Seems a bit weak to me, too. I agree. But at least he did it himself.

What does it say about us when a healthy majority (honestly, just wander into any major department store) of the populace wears jeans that have been manufactured to look used? In short, fabricated effort and experience are the accepted, acknowledged standard.

How are we to move forward, when this is the attitude of the people? We so want to look hard and cool. And we can't live it. And we can no longer fake it ourselves. So we'll purchase fake hard and cool. Now let me be clear: I'm not trying to come off as one of these "things were better in MY day" kind of old farts. Everyone's to blame (but especially MTV). I'm really saying: we've all -- all of us -- let this go just a bit too far. "This" meaning our obsession with some sort of 1980s "image over substance" mentality. It's no longer the emasculation of the American male; we're well beyond that. This is the emasculation of an entire ethos. "Paper tiger" never before held so much meaning.

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