An article in today’s New York Times exposes another aspect of the widespread crime of fashion known as “sagging.” In the case of the subject in this photo
we can’t blame the low-flying pants on the lack of a belt. Maybe it’s an attempt to limit collateral damage in the event of being “pantsed.”
According to the New York Times article there is a long history of fashion fads and trends being used as a form of rebellious self-expression and, apparently, just as long a history of trying to prevent it. In the case of sagging, though, the regulatory angle is not based on suppression of expression, but on covering up what some regard as indecent exposure. The heart of the matter, though, seems to have been revealed most clearly by residents of Stratford, Connecticut when, after a proposed dress code ordinance (see page 13, requires Adobe Acrobat) failed to be enacted at a town council meeting, they agreed that the town had more pressing issues.
Personally, I find “sagging” distasteful and inconsiderate. Besides, most people’s underwear just isn’t that interesting. It’s particularly ridiculous among middle-class suburban boys (even worse among near-middle-aged men – yikes! – but I don’t think that has its roots in hip-hop culture). What I find more ridiculous is that some people feel that “there oughta be a law!” prohibiting it. Oh, come on! If it bothers you that much, say so, and don’t expect someone else to do it for you. This is, of course, my real point.
Honestly, if you want to wear your pants belted around your ankles with knee-length plaid boxers for all the world to see, fine. In that condition, I’ll probably be able to run away from you if you don’t like it when I tell you I don’t appreciate being treated to such an exhibition or I tell you how ridiculous I think you look.
As part of her summer homework for AP English, our oldest daughter had to read a series of essays and write reviews of them. One the essays was “Why We Don’t Complain,” a 1961 piece by William F. Buckley, Jr. about the unwillingness of Americans to speak up, to complain, when it might make a difference. From there Bill suggests that it’s a steep and slippery slope to the loss of our democratic freedoms.
Based on my own observations, some forty-six years on from Mr. Buckley’s, people seem to have no problem complaining about things, but usually only to each other and when there is absolutely no chance of anything being done about it. Now, I don’t know if this was equally true in 1961, but in 2007 people also seem to have no problem whining about all manner of petty injustices, real or perceived, to the “powers that be” in the hopes that someone else will solve their problems for them rather than get up on their hind legs and speak for themselves. Meanwhile, the serious issues of our day go unaddressed and unresolved.
Just pull ’em up, wouldya! Democracy’s at stake!