An old fogey writes from the Barcalounger:
And not [no-glossary]serious[/no-glossary]:
A few caveats:
1. This is not a moral, let alone a hygienic, critique. I regard even the most hirsute Occupiers as clean-shaven, compared to, say, me, back in the day;
2. This is not a generational critique; I took care to include several generations in the #NATGAT photo (photo two);
3. This is not about your precious autonomy; there seems to be a persistent confusion between "You are telling me what to do" and "You are telling me what I am doing is stupid." (Perhaps the Right to be Stupid should be enshrined constitutionally as a forceful anti-meritocratic* measure, given the damage the smartest guys in the room have systematically achieved over the last thirty years.)
1. The Civil Rights marchers (photo one) consistently dressed in a manner that conveyed to others that they took their movement very seriously -- more seriously than they took themselves. Can anyone imagine it was pleasant to walk in the summer heat of Alabama wearing dress clothing? They dressed for the occasion.
2. Most if not all of the the "movement left" (Greens shading through Occupiers and beyond) consistently dresses, in their public events, in a manner that conveys to others that their chosen set of class and cultural markers (dreads, those friggin Guy Fawkes masks, keffiyas, and what have you), or personal comfort (T-shirts, sandals) are more important than their movement.** They dress, in fact, in a manner almost perfectly calculated to frame themselves as "The Other," not only in the minds of readers and viewers, but also in their own minds. Obviously, that undercuts the "We are the 99%" message almost completely.
For those who want to make serious vs. unserious costuming a matter of personal integrity, resisting corporatization, the Spectacle, "The media will never be our friends," etc., I'd observe only that differentiation through "tribal" class and cultural markers is exactly the differentiation that consumerism permits and encourages, making the costuming I'm indicting here a Fun House mirror of the ruling culture rather than the prefiguration of anything fresh and new.
Since it would be churlish of me not to propose a concrete, positive alternative, here it is: I propose blue jeans and white shirts as a universal costume for "movement left" events, as marches, occupations, conferences, etc. (Not a T-shirt. A shirt.)
1. This is a serious costume, because it's a classic American style, recognized world-wide, in most cultures.
2. It's neutral by gender, generation, race, and class.
3. It's cheap enough for all to wear.
4. Symbols, e.g. a carré rouge, will show up very well against the white shirt.
5. Ditto blood.
Also too, "[s]he fits the description."
* * *
So, that is my proposal for what it's worth. Actually, I'd add:
6. No backpacks. They disturb the drape of the shirt. Anyhow, who wants to look like a tourist?
7. Choice of shoes. Obviously.
For another example beyond the Civil Rights movement, see "Clean for Gene" (took down a sitting President).
NOTE * Needs to be a better word than "meritocracy," which is, in fact, an intergenerational self-licking ice cream of class privilege. Perhaps Sociopathocracy would be more appropriate, given who has been sorted to the top by the testing procedures involved in "making merit" in the American context.
NOTE ** If you believe that the barriers for entry to the "movement" left should be as low as possible, and not confined to a fraction of the young and the able, then goggles and black clothing fall into exactly the same category.