Information Landmine

"The Americans keep telling us how successful their system is. Then they remind us not to stray too far from our hotel at night." - An un-named EU trade representative quoted during international trade talks in Denver, Colorado, 1997.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Stupidest Huffington Post article ever.

Mary Battiata offers up the worst reason to vote Obama yet suggested. I was going to mock, but I can't come up with any way to make the article sound more ridiculous than it already is. Actually, fuck it, I'll give it a go.

From the top:

Lately I've been wondering what an Obama White House might mean for...

For what Mary? Climate change? International trade? US-China relations? US health policy? What momentous change do you see Obama ushering in?

the future of bling.

Er, right. I guess all those other topics have been kind of done to death. I hadn't really thought about the Obama line on bling. Do enlighten us.

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?

OK. Why would that happen? Did teenagers start going in for Bush's strange mix of cowboy hats and plutocrat-chic after 2001?

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.

Leave aside the fact that their TV is hooked up to the XBox, I'm still not really seeing this. Why are young people going to start dressing like politicians? Is it just that the Obamas are black? Because, I'm just going to put this out there, that sounds just the tiniest little bit racist.

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.

Yes, but Obama is going to be President and the Beatles were the Beatles. The two are rather different, no? Or this mean we can expect him to grow more facial hair and start wearing a caftan after a few years? Because I guess at least that'd piss off Michelle Malkin.

This week in the nation's capital, Washington Post's Metro columnist Courtland Milloy wrote about the street scene in the mostly African-American, inner-city neighborhood of Trinidad, where D.C. police have set up a Balkans-style traffic checkpoints in and out of the neighborhood in an effort to stem a recent spate of drug related murders. Sitting on the front porch of 67-year-old Willie Dorn, a retired corrections officer, Milloy noted the antics of a group of teenaged boys "shirtless, pants below their behinds," who, as Milloy and Dorn watched, launched a plastic bottle at a passing scooter, nearly causing an accident.

Hold on: what!? Weren't we just talking about clothes. Or was that just a cover so you could trot out a load of right-wing talking points about how all inner-city ("mostly African-American") problems were basically all about some sort of cultural deficiency on the part of black folks?

"Maybe a President Obama could help restore some pride in the black community," Dorn said.

I guess that would be that second option. Did this guy actually suggest the really decisive blow that Obama would strike here would be in the realm of fashion, or did you sort of add that bit yourself? If so, would it be possible for you to come up with some sort of half-arsed anecdotal argument to support your ridiculous assertion? And, if possible, I'd like you to phrase your answer in such a way as to subtly imply that all the black Americans not wearing suits are actually slack, infantile, and otherwise conform to as many Reagan welfare-queen stereotypes as you can cram into one cliche-riddled paragraph.

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.


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.

Since when was bonkers-Nation-of-Islam-leader Louis Farrakhan a "pop culture" symbol? Is there some sort of perk for religious leaders, where the Pope, Rowan Williams and L. Ron Hubbard all get a free pass into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame? Or is it just that you've realised that people might (just might) have started to see through your whole "Barack Obama is black and thus all black people will be just like him" argument, and that you'd better throw them off the scent by saying "pop culture" instead of "black culture"? That's it, isn't it? You're a sneaky one, you.

Barack Obama is different. Barack Obama is the suit next time.

That last sentence is, as best I can tell, gibberish.


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