Sunday, September 02, 2007

Of Dress Codes and Civil Disobedience

My senior portrait is a lie.

It features a me with a haircut far shorter than I wore it in those days. I had to get it cut before they put me it in the fake tux shirt and the hideously royal blue tux jacket, lest the high school journalism adviser cull my portrait from the yearbook. That's the yearbook that's stacked under some afghans and Halloween decorations in the front closet. It's pretty pointless as a memory of those days.

I should have kept my hair like I wore it, left the yearbook in the box and relied on Kodak moments, though my parents, ever celebrants of conformity and short haircuts, would have been embarrassed. (The, uh, haircut in photos of my dad's retirement party are not particularly indicative of how I wore my hair around that time of my life either.)

I thought of all that when Christine called my attention to these guys, who have contended all summer in "Letters to the Editor" that how they dress does not affect how they learn.

The pink ties and orange belts are their way of expressing their individuality. Power to the people, young dudes!

Maybe the lesson in nonconformity you're teaching yourselves is more valuable than the decorum of appropriate collars and pant-leg lengths could ever accomplish.

Maybe it will remind you to speak out when you learn your government is controlled by lobbyists paying fealty to the congressional leaders--too-long-entrenched and deaf to constituents--who demand it.

In a wonderful interview with actor/writer Ethan Hawke on a recent Studio 360, the host's comment prompted him to spout a few lines from his turn as Mikhail Bakunin in Tom Stoppard's Coast of Utopia.

I can't help but think of that remark now. "To be answerable to authority is demeaning to man’s spiritual essence. "

Maybe we all need orange ties and pink belts, eh?


Erik Donald France said...

I agree. It's essential that at least some people subvert the dominant paradigm. I try to whenever possible, in a civilized way, of course ;)

EDavis said...

Let us not all be mindless uniformed zombies...

Charles Gramlich said...

Robert E. Howard would have loved that quote. Lana and I were just saying much the same thing last night about religious authorities. I don't want to obey anyone else, but I don't want to be in charge myself eitehr.

Sphinx Ink said...

Ah, yes, the appearance/apparel wars will be waged eternally. Recently, authorities in a parish 40 miles upriver from New Orleans made it illegal to show one's underwear--their attempt to outlaw the ghetto-look "lowrider" pants. (You know, the ones with the pants' waist sagging way down on the hips, so that the wearer has to clutch them to hold them up, and five or six inches of underwear are displayed at the top.) I assume the ACLU will be filing suit pretty soon.

Reminds me of my high school/college years, when the Establishment was outraged by hippies' garb and hairstyles...followed in succeeding decades by outrage at trashy-disco chic, followed by outrage at heavy metal/punk-rock/Goth spiked hair, black lips and nails, metal-studded clothing, etc.

I don't like the styles, but I admire each subgeneration's creativity in dreaming up ways to shock their elders.

Sidney said...

Glad everyone is with me on this. We need to get together and sing folk songs.

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