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"One must be very naïve or dishonest to imagine that men choose their pants independently of their situation."
April 16, 2009 10:44 AM   Subscribe

Demon Denim. Feeding off a earlier column in the WSJ by Daniel Akst, who wrote, "no fabric has ever been so insidiously effective at undermining national discipline," conservative columnist George Will takes up the (denim-free) banner in the crusade to rid America of "the plague of that ubiquitous fabric, which is symptomatic of deep disorders in the national psyche."
posted by Liver (158 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Correlation and causation and all that. Problem with this idea is that Levi Strauss invented his eponymous jeans during the California gold rush.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:46 AM on April 16, 2009


I don't think it's "fair" or "cute" to give the mentally disabled columns in major newspapers. Have some compassion people!
posted by The Whelk at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2009 [30 favorites]


The Dungarees vs. The Suits
posted by rocket88 at 10:47 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Needs a 'LOLConservatives' tag.
posted by kldickson at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2009


I don't take fashion advice from men who wear bow ties.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:49 AM on April 16, 2009 [51 favorites]


I'm heartbroken that we're not going to see George Fwill in jeans. I was thinking that he'd look awesome in some Japanese dark denim and a faded t-shirt from some feed store in Iowa topped by an American Apparell track jacket.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:52 AM on April 16, 2009


George Twill

Also, I'm glad that we finally have an update for the "fluorine is stealing my precious bodily fluids" conservative bugaboo. Now it's the insidious redblue menace.
posted by DU at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2009


I take this as a sign that George Will is totally on board with all things Obama-administration-related and liberals in general. He's now moving on to filling the void left by Mr. Blackwell.
posted by ahdeeda at 10:54 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote.
Hear, Hear! These bounders deserve nothing less than the sting of my cane! If upstanding Americans want extracurricular activity, they can harangue the hired help about the evils of bilingualism. Or write about the lazy symmetry of baseball.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2009 [36 favorites]


Have you ever noticed that these flare-ups about casual clothing only seem to excite conservatives when a Democrat is in power? The GOP is all too happy to rely on bluejeaned fratboys in its voter base when it's in power, but when a Democrat gets inaugurated, it's all THEY LET BLUEJEANZ IN MAH OVAL OFFICE OH NOEZ!!?!!
posted by jonp72 at 10:55 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Problem with this idea is that Levi Strauss invented his eponymous jeans during the California gold rush.

I think the problem with this idea is more that it's batshit-fucking-insane.
posted by enn at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


"Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote."

Curmudgeon. That's a good word.

I should verbify it to annoy good ol' George. What he's doing in this column?

He's curmudging.

The article is quite the curmudge.

This could become a movement of grumpy, judgmental, fashion-unconscious frumpy people who look down at everyone they possibly can, harrumphing haughtily at people who have the temerity to, of all things, not be just like them, can you believe the unmitigated gall? The could be called curmudgeonistas.
posted by MrVisible at 10:56 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


How do these people even go outside without turning into howling, spittle-flecked balls of incoherent rage?


Wait. Maybe they don't go outside.


It would explain a lot.

They could be called curmudgeonistas.

The GOP?
posted by The Whelk at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2009


I started reading and thought of the plastic-looking head of George F. Will talking with a nutcracker-like jaw, whilst holding his gin martini and scowling over his lawn, and I was amused. But that little nutcracker jaw kept going on, and I got annoyed.

Denim reflects "our most nostalgic and destructive agrarian longings -- the ones that prompted all those exurban McMansions now sliding off their manicured lawns and into foreclosure." And then there are people who don't live in McMansions yet still wear jeans. Hey, even some of them do a hard days work! Maybe they feel that slacks are too stuffy to lounge around in after work.

Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults ("Seinfeld," "Two and a Half Men") and cartoons for adults ("King of the Hill"). Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. So we should instead watch news reporter hacks who focus on the same banal list of daily concerns, with a few interesting stories of native sons stranded in foreign lands? Our games should be on boards and enjoyed with a good rolling of the dice?

This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly. Mr. Astaire: May 10, 1899 – June 22, 1987. Princess Kelly: November 12, 1929–September 14, 1982. They both died OVER TWO DECADES AGO.

Wait, is this satire? Damn! The Onion sure got me this time!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:58 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Pretty sweet that G. F. Will gets full pay for a column that is 75% quoting of another column.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Wait wait wait, stop everything.

I want to retract my previous flip remark and instead congratulate George Will on his insightful, um, insight. I had not previously considered the myriad troubles that blue jeans have caused and I think he and the GOP would be very wise indeed to limit their party to only non-blue-jeans-wearers. Very wise. It is undoubtedly a demographic that will WIN BIG, once America sees through the smokescreen that denim has cast over us.
posted by DU at 11:00 AM on April 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Needs a 'LOLConservatives' tag.

More like LOLold people

"If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly."
posted by afu at 11:01 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pretty sweet that G. F. Will gets full pay for a column that is 75% quoting of another column.

I figured he was really dialing it in by reprinting something written in 1951.
posted by rokusan at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


No one will have pants in NuAmerica - everyone will have to wear barrels on suspenders instead.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2009


"If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly."

I'd wear Grace Kelly.
posted by rokusan at 11:02 AM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


There are only two actions I cannot tolerate. The first is denim. The other is murder. If denim is not wrong, nothing is wrong.—Sebastian Horsley
posted by No Robots at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009


I'll bet these guys dress up in acid washed denim lingerie while their wives tell them what bad, bad boys they are.
posted by orme at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You guys get that this is tongue-in-cheek, right?
posted by SamuelBowman at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm currently wearing this.
posted by bonecrusher at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009


It's cultural warfare, I tell ya.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:03 AM on April 16, 2009


"Hey, you, in the dungarees -- get off my lawn!" -George Will
posted by mosk at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2009


Call 1-900-BAD-JEANS to vote NO on CANADIAN TUXEDOS.

OR via TEXT:

• TEXT "NOTHANKSLEVISTRAUSS" to 21874 to ABOLISH DENIM UNDERWEAR
• TEXT "BOMBCANADA" to 1347590 to KEEP GEORGE WILL IN A GIMP SUIT

There is a $0.99 charge for each vote via SMS text, telephone or internet for Canadian Tuxedo Vote. Must be 18 years or older.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, isn't George Will usually considered one of the go-to examples that brains and conservatism can co-exist and that not all Republicans are anti-intellectual Sarah Palin types? I'm thinking maybe if this old crank is the best example they can come up with, it's time to stop trying to make that argument altogether.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:07 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


is it in poor taste to start a STFUCcnservatives tag?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:08 AM on April 16, 2009


What makes most cranky old men remotely tolerable is they don't have a national forum from which to regale us with their cranky old men complaints.
posted by tommasz at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2009


Simon Crompton likes 'em, and by Golly, so do I.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2009


I'm not comfortable going out of the house without at least ten pounds worth of canvas on me - jeans, heavy oxford shirts, barn coat and messenger bag (cordura is for chumps). Whenever I have to wear dress shirts and slacks, it feels like I'm going outside in my pajamas.

Jeans are practical, durable, cheap and look good on 300lb bricklayers and 110lb supermodels. It's truly an egalitarian fashion, unless you're the type who likes to squint at other people's back pockets to make out which pair of blue canvas pants cost five times as much as another pair of blue canvas pants, in which case, the joke's on you.

I think this egalitarian ethos is what the button-down types rant and rage at: the notion that laborers are contributing members of society who deserve to be admired and imitated by the nation, rather than bow-tied persons of quality.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:09 AM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]



"If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly."


As someone who owns not only a full 3-piece summer AND winter suit along with a fob watch and SEVERAL cravats (High school was ...difficult) let me just say the easiest way to stand out anywhere outside the 1920s is to be a 19 year old in full banker's drag right down to the tie-pin, even in strangeness-blind New York. I might as well have been wearing a fright wig and 3-day old hot pink makeup and fishnets over my head.

I'm sure Mr. Fwill would have approved had I not been wearing in to work out some weird Oscar Wilde issues I was having and to pick up dudes.

(Fwill? Seriously. That's not a name. It's type of denim-substitution fabric or alien planet or a poorly-handled running joke on "Family Guy". It's not a person's name.)
posted by The Whelk at 11:11 AM on April 16, 2009 [12 favorites]


Also, trying to dress like Fred Astaire is fucking expensive unless you're ransacking Goodwill poly-blend tuxedo jackets to wear while working re-stocking the Piggly Wiggly.

Or, you know, wearing a wrap-around white fur knee-length dress shot through with baby blue silk for the lunch rush at Applebee's.
posted by The Whelk at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2009


Are people seriously getting annoyed at this?
It reminds me of a college class in which we read Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" and half the class was outraged by it.
I, for one, would like to break my addiction to denim and stop dressing like I dressed when I was a teenager.
posted by bstreep at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2009


"Jeans come prewashed and acid-treated to make them look like what they are not -- authentic work clothes for horny-handed sons of toil and the soil."

Horny handed sons of the soil, eh? Sounds like someone's been cruising for day laborers.
posted by electroboy at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2009 [11 favorites]


Well I sailed the seven seas
In my dirty dungarees
But I never, ever, ever saw
a Conservative, a Conservative
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:17 AM on April 16, 2009


Bstreep, if we don't out 2 minute hate-a-day we get cranky and wont go down for nap time.
posted by The Whelk at 11:18 AM on April 16, 2009


I liberated myself from jeans and now wear cordoroys, cargos and slacks almost exclusively. To me, these feel far more comfortable, relaxing and look nicer.

The reason I'm not George Will (and this seems to happen a lot with my "personal conservatism"): I find it illogical to deduce from above that people who wear jeans are evil, stupid and unworthy of my respect. It's the "to me" that makes the difference.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Jeans come prewashed and acid-treated to make them look like what they are not...

So this is a reprint from 1990?
posted by DU at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2009


Good lord. Have the right just so utterly imploded that all they can do now is re-wind the fights of yore? Denim??? Did time suddenly revert back to 1968? What next? Long hair on boys?
posted by Thorzdad at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Ahhh... my bad. Let the "therapy" continue!
posted by bstreep at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2009


I'm wearing blue jeans and eating an ice cream cone.
posted by Reverend John at 11:20 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


See, this is when live editing would be useful. I misread his name as the hilarious-sounding Fwill rather than the WASPy sounding F. Will. I missed a grand vodka-tonics-on-da-veeeeraaaandah joke due to careless reading. Now do you see why we need it?
posted by The Whelk at 11:21 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


A cursory search brings up nothing for Fred Astaire (sorry, guys) but we girls get to wear blue jeans all we want.

Up yours, George Will!
posted by padraigin at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2009 [16 favorites]


How dare people wear comfortable, durable, utilitarian fabric that is so much the heart and soul of American egalitarianism that Soviet kids were paying thousands of dollars for smuggled blue jeans. Forget the cold war did we?
And some people shower AFTER fucking work, ok George? Thanks. Keep sitting on your ass there buddy, fending off those gauche callouses on your hands.
(Shouldn't have brought up Burke. Pissed me right off. Speaking of which: "It is a general popular error to suppose the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.")
posted by Smedleyman at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Personally, I make inferences about someones maturity based on whether they waste an entire column whining about denim.
posted by Caduceus at 11:22 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think women should wear dresses. Men too!
posted by Mister_A at 11:23 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Is this supposed to be tongue in cheek? I'm so used to conservatives acting like parodies of themselves that I can't tell...
posted by overglow at 11:24 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Will must be putting us on. George Will: GYOFB.

"... For women, substitute Grace Kelly. "

I'd sooner die. Keep that restrictive 1950s crap out of my wardrobe. (Gee, anyone can do cranky curmudgeon!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2009


George Will once again takes a courageous stand against his relevance.

Next week: that noise they call music!
posted by Zed at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


Acid washed and pre-stressed jeans are an abomination worn only by fashion victims of the lowest level, but do not fuck with real DENIM. I'm talking Hell's Angels soaked-in-motor-oil-and never-washed denim. I'll rip George Will to pieces and put him in my back pocket.
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:25 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just not worried about this, satire or not. The color of my pants doesn't affect the quality of my work. It seems to affect the quality of work of people who can't stop paying attention to other people's clothing, however.
posted by emelenjr at 11:26 AM on April 16, 2009


The essence of sober, adult maturity.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2009


Jeans are practical, durable, cheap and look good on 300lb bricklayers and 110lb supermodels. It's truly an egalitarian fashion

I feel I should point out that this is only true because of the ubiquity of bluejeans. If no one was already wearing them after a century of their slow spread to every corner of society, I'm reasonably confident that no one would suddenly wake up one morning and say, "Hey, you know what will look good on everyone? THICK BLUE CANVAS WITH BRASS RIVETS!" But as it is, people seem okay with jeans as a "neutral" fashion item -- they "look good on everyone," or "they go with everything."

Not that I mind their ubiquity (certainly, bluejeans are way better than 18th-century stockings and powdered wigs), but I am a little sad that our culture's chosen bluejeans as its go-to leg-covering rather than togas or kilts.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:27 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


" If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it."

To be fair Frad Astaire was a smartly dressed man, and much good fashion is timeless.


"An investment in a great pair of jeans also appeals to my thriftiness – one pair of classic, straight dark jeans can be worn with almost anything and won’t wear out for years. Jean Shop jeans aren’t that cheap – between $250 and $290. But then they’re not the most expensive either." - Simon Crompton

I suspect Simon has a different idea of jeans than the vast majority of people in this thread.


Also, jeans are hot, heavy and often freaking uncomfortable.
posted by oddman at 11:28 AM on April 16, 2009


Reverend John beat me to the obvious Leon Kass reference. I've met Kass. That was definitely not satire from him.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:29 AM on April 16, 2009


"You guys get that this is tongue-in-cheek, right?"

I don't see that there's a difference anymore. You couldn't have Swift today because there are people of such genuine idiocy who wouldn't have a problem with soylent green for the poor.
After the teabagging stuff, hell, Sarah Palin as a legitimate candidate, is sincere satire even achievable?
posted by Smedleyman at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


"The essence of sober, adult maturity."

But did you notice how good he looked doing that?
posted by oddman at 11:30 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'M ON YOUR LAWN, IN MA BLUE JEANS!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek. I laughed when I read it in my quaint paper newspaper this morning. In his old age, George clearly takes the occasional foray into writing for the sheer pleasure of it, even if he's the only one who gets the joke. If you want to get annoyed at him, save it for when he's writing about politics.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, this might sound silly to say, but I do honestly hate denim with a passion. Not because of any weird sense of fashion or any sense of moral decay - but because in a GA summer, its THE worst thing you can wear short of fur leggings. Canvas and other material are so much cooler and so much less moisture absorbing, I don't understand why you would wear cotton jeans in 99.9% humidity and 110 F weather.

To say nothing of the fact I have YET to find anything as utilitarian as a pair of cargo pants for teaching. More pockets = more dry erase markers.
posted by strixus at 11:31 AM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


I once saw Aaron Eckhart in a Canadian tuxedo so the former belief that that outfit sucks is wrong and offensive.
posted by spec80 at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2009


We have been trolled.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:36 AM on April 16, 2009 [8 favorites]


Jeans are practical, durable, cheap

Leaving incitements to class-warfare by the bow-tied aside, this common defense of rough indigo canvas has been contrary to any sort of sartorial reality for at least twenty years.

Denim is heavy. It is hot. It retains water like a sponge and bleeds indigo dye like a gutted animal while drying. It has some resistance to abrasion, true, but little stretch and is a low strength fibre, fraying and tearing easily.

Hikers have a phrase: cotton kills. Never hike or do field work in cotton unless you enjoy being wet and cold. Contrariwise, it breathes so poorly it's easy to overheat in denim, that is, before it soaks through and becomes unpleasantly clammy. Wool, silk, synthetics are all better choices for hard work outside.

Denim, for all it is a heavy and apparently tough fabric, is easy to fray and has a very poor resistance to tears. Cotton thread is weaker than almost every other sort of fibre, size for size. It compares very poorly for strength to synthetic fabrics, especially those reinforced with nylons and/or lycra.

Denim is a fashion choice, not a utilitarian one. Better fabrics are now as cheap and have been for a generation. Jeans only sell because people like them, not because they are a superior garment.
posted by bonehead at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2009 [9 favorites]


You know, this might sound silly to say, but I do honestly hate denim with a passion.

Hating denim isn't silly. Blaming denim for high taxes is silly. Blaming denim for high taxes that don't even exist is clinically insane.
posted by DU at 11:37 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Do not blame Levi Strauss...

Okay, I won't...though I do think the way his structuralist approach to anthropology constitutes the primitive in opposition to the civilised leaves a lot to be desired.
posted by Sova at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2009 [13 favorites]


George Will is a snob? Shocker!
posted by NedKoppel at 11:38 AM on April 16, 2009


To say nothing of the fact I have YET to find anything as utilitarian as a pair of cargo pants for teaching. More pockets = more dry erase markers.

Fuck YES! You can also keep a yo-yo in one pocket, and that is great!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:39 AM on April 16, 2009


I always thought that one of the problems the newspaper industry is facing is that when the Internet came along, their columnists suddenly had to compete against "outsiders" for being insightful, deep-thinking, and influential. The Internet created a free market for thinkers as it were and I expected more bloggers to get snapped up by newspapers and some long time columnists to get trimmed (and I'm sure some have). However, the fact that the Washington Post is publishing columns about denim from one of their marque writers says something (hopefully that he's not allowed to write about global warming anymore).
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:42 AM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Denim, for all it is a heavy and apparently tough fabric, is easy to fray and has a very poor resistance to tears. Cotton thread is weaker than almost every other sort of fibre, size for size. It compares very poorly for strength to synthetic fabrics, especially those reinforced with nylons and/or lycra.

On the plus side cotton won't melt to your skin if you are in a fire!

(I had to watch a lab safety video which emphasized this point.)

(With a blowtorch.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 11:44 AM on April 16, 2009


Wool, silk, synthetics are all better choices for hard work outside.

Better fabrics are now as cheap and have been for a generation.

Interesting. Someone should tell these guys.
posted by electroboy at 11:45 AM on April 16, 2009


Edge of the American West commented on this today.

For the first half of the article, I thought it was a joke, by the end I wasn't so sure. But I'll repeat here what I said at Edge of the West: I fully support the wealthy sticking to easily identifiable uniforms. This makes it easier for us to know who to throw things at.
posted by serazin at 11:47 AM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cargo pants or shorts are the best. More pockets = more everything, and no need for a backpack, fanny-pack, purse or other extra space accessories.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:48 AM on April 16, 2009


Akst's piece was kind of funny. Will's was not.
posted by natteringnabob at 11:50 AM on April 16, 2009


Wow, Canadian tuxedo! I love it! I learned a new thing today!
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on April 16, 2009


On the plus side cotton won't melt to your skin if you are in a fire!

(I had to watch a lab safety video which emphasized this point.)


I used to work in a lab in which there was a lot of sulphuric acid. Turns out nothing dissolves denim like sulfuric acid, so I would end up with lots and lots of holes from spills and splatters I hadn't even noticed. Apparently if you expose jeans to sulphuric acid fumes for long enough they will just entirely disintigrate.
posted by Artw at 11:54 AM on April 16, 2009


I've never been a fan of George Will (and if it hadn't for him, maybe I could've liked baseball? I'll never know), but I'll take him, Bill Buckley, Jr., and their ilk over the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh any day of the week.
posted by cobra libre at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


all i'm saying is that my ass looks fucking sweet in these jeans. therefore, they stay.
posted by barrett caulk at 12:00 PM on April 16, 2009


Blue jeans are responsible for the current financial mess? Or is it all the people oversimplifying a complex system and attempting to use those trite understandings while making massive changes that affect billions of lives while leaving a power vacuum that would othewise lead the people in the responsible conduct of their lives so as to consolidate and leverage a powerful nation's resources in an expeditious and efficient way?

Jeans. Definitely the jeans.
posted by jwells at 12:03 PM on April 16, 2009


...just about all jeans are now made by China, and I for one support giving work to
the workers of our neighbor super power.
posted by Postroad at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2009


All of the fucking conservatives should drop dead. Fuck them.
posted by mike3k at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2009


I'd wear Grace Kelly.

rokusan, is that a Silence of the Lambs reference?
posted by njbradburn at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2009


He's only talking about jeans that are light blue, right?
posted by sageleaf at 12:09 PM on April 16, 2009


It puts the princess of Monaco in the basket.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2009


She's about a size 14, right?
posted by Greg Nog at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know who else wore denim?
posted by TedW at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'd hate to see what they think about athletic shorts in public.

That being said, I'd love if my boyfriend had these "horny-hands".
posted by rubah at 12:17 PM on April 16, 2009


I didn't know that Regan was Canadian, TedW.

Thanks! My new fact for the day.
posted by bonehead at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2009


Using Edmund Burke quotations to criticize contemporary mainstream US culture is just silly. At least the Jacobins knew what to do with counterrevolutionaries like George Will...
posted by anarcation at 12:19 PM on April 16, 2009


On any American street, or in any airport or mall, you see the same sad tableau: A 10-year-old boy is walking with his father, whose development was evidently arrested when he was that age, judging by his clothes. Father and son are dressed identically -- running shoes, T-shirts. And jeans, always jeans. If mother is there, she, too, is draped in denim.

When I read this, I heard it narrated in exactly the same voice that was used in the beginning of 1000 Homo DJ's Supernaut.

It's fun to take a trip, put acid bluejeans in your vein on your legs.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


You know who else wore denim?

Yeah, speaking of pretending to be a hearty son of the sod. I wonder what George Twill's take on "clearing brush" is.
posted by DU at 12:22 PM on April 16, 2009


It is impossible to respect anyone wearing a fabric "nicer" than denim; the inevitable message is either "I'm such a sucker that I took I job requiring me to dress like this" or "I think you're stupid enough to think better of me for dressing like this."
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2009 [4 favorites]


I don't understand why you would wear cotton jeans pants in 99.9% humidity and 110 F weather.

I normally don't, but: FTFY. Really, I don't understand how people live in the South at all, with such miserable weather. I'll take 20 New England winters before I willingly suffer a Southern summer.

Regarding the pants, I don't get the hate. Denim IS comfortable, if you buy decently fitting pants. There are so many different cuts of jeans, get one that's comfy and looks good on you. What's really great about jeans is that until they wear right out, they look better as they fade and wear. You can't say that about anything else but a leather jacket. Certainly not khakis or slacks.
posted by explosion at 12:24 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also I've been reading George Will's columns in Newsweek since I was about twelve, so that's right around fifteen years. I noticed around 2004 or 2005 that Will was slowly going batshit; it was about that time that he stopped actually analyzing and started just regurgitating whatever the talking points were, using slightly bigger words to appeal to the conservative with pretentions of literacy. I have yet to see him write anything which could, even viewed generously, be considered "tongue in cheek". If he isn't serious about how MEN OF QUALITY must never wear denim, I'd be shocked.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:27 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


To be fair, I think that for certain things, denim is right-out. I was pretty much mortified that our President wore casual clothes so often from 2001-early 2009. He's the damned President of the United States, he shouldn't look "casual" any time he's not on vacation. And he looked so uncomfortable in a suit, too. Like a boy forced to dress up.

But yeah, if you're not representing a country/company/etc, there's nothing wrong with denim.
posted by explosion at 12:33 PM on April 16, 2009


You know what? Americans are a bunch of fat slobs. The jeans are NOT helping. George Will is correct. But Dan Akst's column is actually an entertaining read.
posted by kenlayne at 12:35 PM on April 16, 2009


Now when Will takes this to its logical corollary and suggests banning country music, I'm with him.
posted by localroger at 12:38 PM on April 16, 2009


Ah, George Will, drinking from the columnists' favourite Vietnamese soup: pho ni tin.

Then again, Andy Rooney can't be America's foremost "get off my lawn" commentator forever.
posted by holgate at 12:41 PM on April 16, 2009


During a spring training game, a couple of Cubs podcasters cornered him for an interview. His phone rang (effectively ending the interview) and his ringtone was "Go Cubs Go" and he had a Cubs skin on his phone.

Based solely on this, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on the serious/trolling question.

Also, it's not hard to imagine this being written by Bill Bryson or Kurt Vonnegut.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 12:46 PM on April 16, 2009


"Denim, for all it is a heavy and apparently tough fabric, is easy to fray and has a very poor resistance to tears. Cotton thread is weaker than almost every other sort of fibre, size for size. It compares very poorly for strength to synthetic fabrics, especially those reinforced with nylons and/or lycra."

Although khakis are the conventional wisdom pants for the service-oriented IT industry, I'm glad my boss lets us wear jeans. If you have to kneel down a lot without using pads, and you also have to do desk work and deal with the public, and if you live in an elevated, dry climate with a long winter, you learn to appreciate denim more than a lot of other fabrics.
posted by krinklyfig at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2009


You know what? Americans are a bunch of fat slobs. The jeans are NOT helping.
Guess what? I've got my jeans on my 130 lb, fat, slobby body right now. And I'm working. I've got flipflops on too! I'm also wearing a shirt that says "you're all whores". Now I'm doing a little dance in my jeans. I think I'll call it the Fat Slob shuffle.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Most cargo pants are jeans dyed differently, made from lighter canvas, and have pockets tacked on the thighs.

More importantly, it is an error to believe these differences will somehow separate "cargo pants" from "jeans" in the minds of the suit-wearing stodge-podges.

I wear cargo pants to my last job during the day, and I get sent home for wearing jeans. To be honest, I'm surprised Dockers-style slacks "made the cut" for Business Casual.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2009



Also, it's not hard to imagine this being written by Bill Bryson


As someone who had the misfortune to read "I'm A Stranger Here Myself" while trapped in an airport, it's not hard to imagine at all.
posted by The Whelk at 12:48 PM on April 16, 2009


Navy Dress Blues are George Will approved!

Of course, don't take advice from me, I'm wearing a denim skirt.
posted by vespabelle at 12:50 PM on April 16, 2009


"You know what? Americans are a bunch of fat slobs. The jeans are NOT helping."

I'm 6' and weigh around 160 lbs. Am I allowed to wear jeans? If I gain weight, do I have to switch to a moo-moo? Or, if I stay skinny, can I keep my citizenship?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:51 PM on April 16, 2009


How dare you besmirch the good name of Bill Bryson so! He would never produce anything so hackneyed and clumsy as this.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:54 PM on April 16, 2009


If it's satire - he's doing it wrong.

Auo usque tandem abutere patientia? - Cicero
How long do you propose to try my patience?
posted by jivadravya at 12:55 PM on April 16, 2009


As someone who owns not only a full 3-piece summer AND winter suit along with a fob watch and SEVERAL cravats

Also, a fedora?
posted by dersins at 12:56 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, its a funny thing about "A Modest Proposal", I can't remember the first time I read it, if I was outraged or what. I suspect I probably didn't read it the first time it was assigned, and was let in on the secret by the later in class discussion, and cheated myself out of whatever my honest and naive reaction to it would have been. However, I don't *think* I would have taken it at face value.

Now that I've re-read this GW column, with the idea that it could be satire, I still get the idea that, while he's probably not wholly serious about the degree to which he disapproves of wearing denim, he probably does genuinely look down on wearing it. If it is satire then what *is* the point he's trying to make? That denim *is* good? Or that one *shouldn't* take fashion too seriously? Or something else that I've totally missed?

I mean, in the last paragraph, with Edmund Burke and the fall of the Bastille and St. Paul he starts to go over the top, and there in the first reading I started to ask myself if he was serious, but it wasn't enough to really convince me that he's joking, and I still think he's serious.
posted by Reverend John at 12:58 PM on April 16, 2009


George Will is always serious. You can tell because he wears a bow-tie.
posted by bonehead at 1:06 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]



How dare you besmirch the good name of Bill Bryson so! He would never produce anything so hackneyed and clumsy as this.


Have you read "I'm a Stranger Here Myself"? The only way it could lazier is if it didn't actually exist.
posted by The Whelk at 1:07 PM on April 16, 2009


It too lazy for the verb to, eh?
posted by Mister_A at 1:10 PM on April 16, 2009


"If it is satire then what *is* the point he's trying to make? That denim *is* good? Or that one *shouldn't* take fashion too seriously? Or something else that I've totally missed?"

The only thing I can guess is that he's satirizing himself. If he's playing a part, he's playing an only slightly exaggerated version of George Will.

And is it just me, or is George Will seriously suggesting we all become hipsters?
posted by krinklyfig at 1:15 PM on April 16, 2009


ys.
posted by The Whelk at 1:16 PM on April 16, 2009


I normally don't, but: FTFY. Really, I don't understand how people live in the South at all, with such miserable weather. I'll take 20 New England winters before I willingly suffer a Southern summer.

And I don't understand how anyone can live through New England winters, while I happily wear pants (jeans, mostly, on my 130# fat American frame) most every day during every lovely Georgia summer. Different strokes and all that.

And those of you who love the cargo pants and hate on the jeans, it doesn't bother you in the least that your pants look like a utility belt expanded to cover your entire lower half? To me, cargo pants say, "I need lots of stuff and I'd rather turn myself into a pack mule than tote it."
posted by notashroom at 1:35 PM on April 16, 2009


It's going to be harder and harder to believe in these "good old days when people didn't dress or act like this", if writers are going to keep choosing clothing or hobbies that are more than a hundred years old.

I mean, my grandfather wore jeans.
posted by quin at 1:35 PM on April 16, 2009


> If he isn't serious about how MEN OF QUALITY must never wear denim, I'd be shocked.

I, for one, appreciate this man's singular attempt to elevate the sartorial requirements of Americans. And I am sure he will not object to my sortie this evening to my nearest Brooks Brothers to restock my wardrobe; the judgement of the clothiers to generations of power elite must be considered impecc- wait. No... it's can't be true... NOOO...
posted by ardgedee at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, Canadian tuxedo! I love it! I learned a new thing today!

In Canada we just call them tuxedos.
posted by chugg at 1:38 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly."

George, its fucking 2009.
posted by sfts2 at 1:40 PM on April 16, 2009


George, its fucking 2009.

EVERYTHING WILL BE AS IT WAS IN 1950 FOREVER!
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:44 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

They forget that Grace Kelly wore jeans at the end of the movie Rear Window. She starts out the movie as this high-maintenance fashion plate, but by the end, she becomes a more compatible partner for Jimmy Stewart's lifestyle. In fact, the movie seemed to be criticizing her character for being too formal.
posted by jonp72 at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2009


"To me, cargo pants say, 'I need lots of stuff and I'd rather turn myself into a pack mule than tote it.'"

I have been looking for a way to say this for the last 35 years. Who knew I'd find my answer in pants?
posted by krinklyfig at 1:46 PM on April 16, 2009


'That's George Will. He's a reactionary conservative.'

'Oh that must be exhausting.'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:50 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


I get that this is satire. Or something. Ultimately, what I get is that neither George Will, nor whoever edits his stuff, can honestly hold this as a serious position.

The problem is, I honestly don't get the joke. And I like to think that I've generally got a good sense of humor and a decent feel for satire.

But on a deep, spiritual note, I want to say that while I love my jeans, I have learned in the last few years that cargo pants rule.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:55 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


George, its fucking 2009.

EVERYTHING WILL BE AS IT WAS IN 1950 FOREVER!
posted by Pope Guilty


I remember my mind being blown by Will once writing something very close to "my eventual goal, like that of all serious conservatives, is to return American life to its 1905 state." Newsweek, late 90s, and that's not a verbatim quote but it's damn near. At least you know where the guy stands.
posted by COBRA! at 1:56 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, isn't George Will usually considered one of the go-to examples that brains and conservatism can co-exist and that not all Republicans are anti-intellectual Sarah Palin types?

You have Will confused with the late Bill Buckley.
posted by MikeMc at 1:58 PM on April 16, 2009


. . a guy like noted conservative columnist George Will. You see him, on all those TV shows where he is always commenting on world events in that snotty smartass way of his, with his lips pursed together like he just accidentally licked the plumbing in a bus-station restroom, and you quite naturally say to yourself, as millions have before you: "Why doesn't somebody just take this little dweeb and stick his bow tie up his nose? Huh?"
Dave Barry
posted by y2karl at 2:02 PM on April 16, 2009


You have Will confused with the late Bill Buckley.

Damn conservatives with their names all ending in "ill," just to confuse us honest citizens. There oughta be law.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:06 PM on April 16, 2009


The problem is, I honestly don't get the joke.

Here's the more conventional version of the bit:

Knock, knock.
Who's there?

The Washington Post.
The Washington Post who?

The Washington Post, who pays George Will six figures (at least) to squeeze this bowtied milquetoast excrement out his perma-clenched sphincter, wonders why it is having trouble remaining profitable and maintaining its institutional relevance and market position.

To be fair, it's a subtle gag. And not so much funny ha-ha or even funny strange as funny jesus fuck is there anyone still taking this shit seriously?

And yeah, Lord Fwill, I know it should be "The Washington Post, which . . ." But the gag's got better rhythm the other way and language is malleable, okay, Admiral Schoolmarm?
posted by gompa at 2:09 PM on April 16, 2009 [5 favorites]


"I'll take 20 New England winters before I willingly suffer a Southern summer."

Your skin is broken.
posted by oddman at 2:17 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


So considering the dress code for the AIG Executives and other Wall Street weasels who caused the current economic meltdown, shouldn't somebody be suggesting the banning of blue suits and power ties instead? There's a social uprising I could get behind. And considering that men wearing ties already provide the angry mob with something to string them up with...
posted by wendell at 2:30 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


"The problem is, I honestly don't get the joke. And I like to think that I've generally got a good sense of humor and a decent feel for satire."

Long line of that lately. "I was only joking" - uh huh. At best it's stupid.

...of course it goes without saying that denim is only a problem when combined with a mustache. Such a thing could lead to shag carpeting, vans, easy listening music, overuse of the word "man", plumbing, wearing vests, jean jackets, working in the porn industry....
That's just off the cuff. I'm just some schnook who doesn't write a column for a big paper syndicate and I can be funnier than George Will.
Maybe I'll put that on my resume: "Accomplishments: Funnier than George Will."
S'like saying I can beat the crap out of Woody Allen tho'.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:57 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm going to have to say the same thing I said in the comments section for this in the Post.

When the print newspapers finally die, it won't be exclusively because of bloggers and web journalism. At least a contributing factor will be the fatuous cronyism that has crowded out relevant insight and new ideas from the op-ed pages. These newspaper pages are supposed to be ground zero for the "marketplace of ideas" (as the right is fond of saying). Instead, they are dominated by people who have a kind of tenure - they write and print a column a week, whether they have anything novel or informative to contribute or not.

At least, Mr. Will could have glanced at the headlines of his own newspaper this week. What I got of this column was that Americans are largely sloppy, and lazy. Oh, and that videogamers shouldn't be allowed to vote. Really? That's all he's got? Truly, this column could have been written in 1990, or 1980.

Like the whole world hasn't been changing, transforming, imploding, etc these last few months? And in all of America, the Washington Post couldn't find one person with a more constructive piece of writing this week than that?

I don't believe it. I simply don't believe it. Lots of people care genuinely about what is going on in our nation's capital and in our government, and lots of people have some kind of novel idea, good or bad, about how we should go forward. The Post, if it wants to survive, ought to find some of those, and try, at least make some token effort, to print something that would be compelling and relevant.

(If I were king for a day, I would fire any one of the random leftover neo-cons and other-cons creeping around the Post and hire Glenn Greenwald. Here's a guy who's a constitutional lawyer and closely reads the actual documents issued by and relating to the government. YMMV)
posted by newdaddy at 2:59 PM on April 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, my link didn't work and rocket88 beat me to the link anyway. WKRP ftw!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:05 PM on April 16, 2009


This is the sartorial "Let them eat cake."

People wear denim because it is durable and very attractive when it weathers a bit. We can't all afford wool pants and dry-cleaning bills, Mr. Will. I know you'd prefer us all to be wearing suits and ties, but they are expensive and require more upkeep than trusty, humble denim.

Speaking of ties, follow yours upward; it may enable you to find your head.
posted by adipocere at 3:39 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll tell you what though, this new thing, where the young folk wear their jeans with flip-flops (Aus. "thongs") has got to stop.
posted by turgid dahlia at 4:01 PM on April 16, 2009


"People wear denim because it is . . . very attractive when it weathers a bit"

You've got to be kidding.

Exhibits:
A
B
C (the blouse)
D
E
F
G
H
I
J

These attrocitities wouldn't look nearly as nasty in a proper fabric. Denim seems to inspire hideousness. (OK the shoes and prom dress would be horrible no matter what.)
posted by oddman at 4:04 PM on April 16, 2009


http://www.denimdemon.se/ is already a brand. Their whole marketing idea so far is to dress up traditional people in authentic jeans. Too consecrative for my taste
posted by uandt at 4:11 PM on April 16, 2009


consecrative??? what does that mean? I love you beer but damn YOU, spellchecker
posted by uandt at 4:15 PM on April 16, 2009


Wow, sometimes fabric is used to make ugly clothing? Wow!
posted by !Jim at 4:28 PM on April 16, 2009 [3 favorites]


Are commentators just bloggers with tenure?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:29 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


American's dress like crap and denim jeans are at the foundation. It has nothing to do with politics or culture wars, left and right are equally guilty.
posted by stbalbach at 5:31 PM on April 16, 2009


Here's what got him all upset, I'll bet.

If everyone walked around in Khakis, I think I'd puke.
posted by Lukenlogs at 6:36 PM on April 16, 2009


Metafilter: Who knew I'd find my answer in pants?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:15 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


HA. Just... infinite 'ha.' I don't have anything more constructive to say than that (sorry). Those who would give up their jeans for security deserve neither!
posted by lolichka at 7:39 PM on April 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


"I was pretty much mortified that our President wore casual clothes so often from 2001-early 2009. He's the damned President of the United States, he shouldn't look "casual" any time he's not on vacation."

To be fair, he was on vacation 977 days (either at Camp David [487] or his Crawford ranch [490]), so that's a lot of jeans-wearing.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:10 PM on April 16, 2009


Cite
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 8:11 PM on April 16, 2009


Georgie, I can wear jeans whenever I want, because “I am freer and less terrified than you are.”
posted by ronin21 at 9:42 PM on April 16, 2009


Sometimes I'm in a public place and I'll notice how almost everyone there is wearing jeans. They're so ubiquitous that one forgets that it is indeed a little peculiar that most of us are wearing almost the same thing. It's a classic look and practical, but really it would not hurt for people to go with something else once in a while, just to spice things up.
posted by millions at 10:32 PM on April 16, 2009


Wow, Canadian tuxedo! I love it! I learned a new thing today!

Me too! I'd tell my dad, but he actually is a horny-handed son of toil and the soil who's a big fan of the denim, so I'm not sure how he'd take it. Regardless, you can't beat the convenience and peace of mind in knowing that any birthday or Christmas gifts purchased from Mark's Work Warhorse will be gratefully accepted.

We can't all afford wool pants and dry-cleaning bills, Mr. Will.

Or fancy visors to shield our flabby ass-crack-like wattle-folds from the sun.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:47 PM on April 16, 2009


I've tried wearing cargo pants and khakis, but they seem to wear out a lot sooner than jeans. Maybe I'm just buying the crappy ones. Also, Within two washes, the pockets of my cargo pants are annoyingly bunched up.
posted by ODiV at 12:30 AM on April 17, 2009


George Fwill spoke at my commencement. Good speech, actually - he stuck to baseball, a subject he actually understands. Of course, he told the graduates that we were great and all.

I was wearing jeans under my gown. I wonder what he would have thought of *that*?
posted by notsnot at 4:30 AM on April 17, 2009


Ok, after looking at all the truly awful (and in some cases hateful) signage that was waved around by assorted right-wing wingnuts during their tea parties all over America yesterday, I think it would have been a good thing for someone from the conservative orthodoxy, someone with some voice, to step forward and say "This doesn't represent the views of the great majority of us. These people are speaking only for themselves." It would have good for conservatives and good for the country.

But yeah, denim, sure, I can see the urgency of that. Great job! Hooray for George!
posted by newdaddy at 5:27 AM on April 17, 2009


I work at a VA hospital. Handed down from on high is the decree that we must not wear blue jeans to work.

I was told specifically during my training that black, green, brown, etc. jeans are all fine. Just not blue. This amused me to no end. I find myself wearing alternate-colored jeans to work quite a bit. Occasionally I rebel a bit and wear the forbidden blue.

See, it strikes me as funny for about three reasons:

First, I don't work with humans at all. I do lab work, generally in a building or wing not accessible to patients. No one sees me, except when entering and leaving.

Second, the majority of my work duties expose me to enough lab chemicals and animal detritus that I would definitely NOT wish to risk my actual, nice dress pants to potential damage - yet my dress code expects me to do it anyway. (What would you rather wear while cleaning a rat cage - dry-clean only wool, or denim?)

And third, when I am in areas open to patients, it's immediately obvious that the vast majority of veterans in the hospital - from WWII to Iraq war - wear blue jeans. Clearly they are an offense to the older generation. I think the myth that blue denim is "work wear" not worn by professionals is tired and should be taken out behind the shed and mercifully shot.

To be fair, I'm not arguing that everyone should sheath themselves in denim like we're all late-70's Aerosmith fans or something. I do think denim has some problems. My first remembered concern there was the day I was in a Gap store, and noticed that they had two piles of identical jeans for sale. Exact same pairs of jeans - same cut, style, sizes, same tags. But the pile with the holes pre-torn in the knees? Those jeans were priced about $20 higher. It occurred to me that something was clearly wrong when one could buy a pair of pants, tear a hole in them, and return them while pocketing a $20 profit.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:30 AM on April 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I work at a VA hospital. Handed down from on high is the decree that we must not wear blue jeans to work.

Doesn't your hospital administration know that neckties are the real threat?
posted by TedW at 9:55 AM on April 17, 2009



Joe the plumber.
posted by notreally at 6:13 PM on April 17, 2009


...People, consider something.

If George Will is cranking about denim, that means that he hasn't found anything else more serious to write about. And if a conservative columnist can't find anything serious to complain about then that means...well, that's good, yes?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:40 AM on April 20, 2009


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