ABOUT... FACE!
June 3, 2020 10:40 PM   Subscribe

Death and surrender to power in the clothing of men. The evolution of The Punisher, big trucks, and militarized toxic masculinity as an illustrated webcomic.
posted by loquacious (83 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite
 


I think a refresher is warranted right now.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:14 PM on June 3, 2020 [11 favorites]


#TacticalRepost
posted by loquacious at 11:16 PM on June 3, 2020 [12 favorites]


Liked it the first time - and it has not fallen in relevance.
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 12:16 AM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


When I got rid of my comics I was sad to see some really beautiful stuff go -- but certainly not the Punisher books. I let my friend sell them: I didn't even want to deal with the men who would be excited to buy that creepy pistol-whipping wish-fulfillment trash.
posted by wenestvedt at 3:44 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


I think a refresher is warranted right now.
... And I would pencil in the need for a "Cybertruck update pack" for around 2024.
posted by rongorongo at 3:52 AM on June 4, 2020


I think a lot about those algorithmic Facebook shirts that invariably brag about having “anger issues and a serious dislike for stupid people.” I don’t suppose anyone ever went broke by banking on Americans calling themselves aggressive and impatient (and in the case of some shirts, wildly overprotective of family).
posted by Countess Elena at 4:02 AM on June 4, 2020 [11 favorites]


Meanwhile now, the fascists are claiming floral-print shirts as part of their iconography. Which concerns me, because, if they succeed, that'd be a significant part of my wardrobe permanently contaminated beyond reclamation.
posted by acb at 4:17 AM on June 4, 2020 [37 favorites]


acb I have the exact same problem. Fascists ruin everything.
posted by lordrunningclam at 4:34 AM on June 4, 2020 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I have already sadly moved my Hawaiian shirts to storage.
posted by Foosnark at 5:37 AM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


Oh, crap. Most of my summer shirts are Hawaiians. Guess I'll have to fall back on the guyaberas.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:40 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


To get deep into Boogaloo/ Big Igloo/ Big Luau civil war 2 extremist fantasies, check out this Bellingcat article.

It started on 4chan, but thrives on Facebook now.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:43 AM on June 4, 2020 [8 favorites]


Oh no. Aloha shirts were/are my big leap into gender neutral clothing (and Hawkeye as chill anti-war medic vibe) and are like 75% of my summer casual wear.
posted by cobaltnine at 5:52 AM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]




Yup. Had to put my Hawai'ian shirts away, dammit.
posted by SPrintF at 6:10 AM on June 4, 2020


Sorry, but you people are insane. What are you going to do when 4chan comes for the letter "e", or the concept of distance? You're letting people you purport to hate choose your wardrobes for you.
posted by Leon at 6:15 AM on June 4, 2020 [42 favorites]


> You're letting people you purport to hate choose your wardrobes for you.

Would you wear a swastika in public?
posted by at by at 6:23 AM on June 4, 2020 [10 favorites]


No, I wouldn't. Ok, you win.

I wonder what they're going to stop you wearing next.
posted by Leon at 6:25 AM on June 4, 2020 [8 favorites]


Eventually, Hawaiian shirts, fedoras, cargo shorts, whatever else... they won't be loaded symbols and it won't matter. The timespan might only be a month or so. Maybe a couple years. For the time being, no, as a guy who physically looks like he's square in the fucking middle of the boogaloo boy fuckwad demographic, I am going to go out of my way to prevent escalation.

Or, to think of it another way: Why should I risk winding up people who don't know me? Why do I want to let neighbors and strangers assume I'm one of those dipshits? Their memory of their assumption that This One Guy was a paramilitary racist is going to last far longer than their memories of anything else I do in their presence. What do I gain by spreading fear like that? Doing this trivial little gesture to put people at ease is worth a whole wardrobe of Hawaiian shirts.
posted by at by at 6:30 AM on June 4, 2020 [41 favorites]


I wonder what they're going to stop you wearing next.

When groups of people who have chosen to target others, typically racialized or sexualized others, for harm signal as much to each other, I usually find that I prefer not to send that signal for reasons I think are obvious. I am curious what scope you meant to indicate by 'they'
posted by PMdixon at 6:32 AM on June 4, 2020 [11 favorites]


As much as they tried to adopt the OK hand signal it kind of didn't work - they have to do it in a weird way to make it clear they're trying to do a white power hand gesture rather than just approving of a pizza in the vicinity.
posted by Merus at 6:40 AM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


You're letting people you purport to hate choose your wardrobes for you.

When I was a young angry man, I used to dress in all black, with the big stomper boots and leather jacket and a crazy haircut, because FUCK YOU THAT'S WHY.

I suppose I was about 19 when I was out walking and a group of young men pelted the shit out of me with ice balls. Hard. It hurt, a lot.

What stung even more was my pride. This group of young men, they were black. Didn't they know? I'd grown up listening to Public Enemy! I was their ally! I hated intolerance and unfair judgment just as much as them! Fuck the man! Tear down the system! We're on the same side!

I was talking about this later that day with a friend, who entertained me for like ten seconds before interrupting me with "Dude you look and dress like a skinhead."

And that was the end of that fashion phase, because when you dress like skinheads dress, you get treated like a skinhead. So yes, I'm retiring my Hawaiian shirts for a while now. If they get as fully entrenched as a hate symbol as that same look I adopted when I was young, I'll get rid of them. Because I'm older and I'm not a jackass.
posted by rocketman at 6:42 AM on June 4, 2020 [73 favorites]


Helpful tip: If you wear Hawaiian shirts with checkered Vans, people will just think you're a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:45 AM on June 4, 2020 [16 favorites]


What if my bold flowers are on a kimono that matches my skirt that has a rainbow belt.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:49 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


Obviously, context matters. If you're attending a Don Ho concert, folks might not draw the same conclusion as they might in other places.
posted by rocketman at 6:57 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


Great comic, thought-provoking. "A child's power fantasy finally enacted in adulthood", so true.

One thought dredged up while reading this was about 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who ran into predictable corporate resistance (the NFL & Reebok) to wearing a suit while he led his team in a football game (this was ~15 years ago). No coach, to my knowledge, has tried to wear one while coaching since. As a result, money from marketing agreements continues to flow, and the "childhood fantasy" for many NFL fans is of leadership/power wearing a scowl and a cut-off hoodie.

I know one coach who would have hung his hat in shame at this.
posted by Theophrastus Johnson at 7:03 AM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]


Eventually, Hawaiian shirts, fedoras, cargo shorts, whatever else... they won't be loaded symbols and it won't matter. The timespan might only be a month or so. Maybe a couple years. For the time being, no, as a guy who physically looks like he's square in the fucking middle of the boogaloo boy fuckwad demographic, I am going to go out of my way to prevent escalation.

See also: Trench coats post 1999.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:11 AM on June 4, 2020 [14 favorites]


They came for the letter "e", and I did nothing, for I could not afford to buy a vowel.
posted by thelonius at 7:12 AM on June 4, 2020 [29 favorites]


They came for the letter "e", and I did nothing, for I could not afford to buy a vowel

With e it's best to A Void.
posted by Candleman at 7:16 AM on June 4, 2020 [13 favorites]


What if my bold flowers are on a kimono that matches my skirt that has a rainbow belt.

We can laugh it up, but performative demonstrations of allegiance turn out to matter, intentional or not, and one of the realities of hyperconnected modernity is that if you're not deliberate and well-informed you can end up amplifying and legitimizing political positions that you don't even realize exist.

Sucks, but welcome to 2020. Come for the synthwave and pandemic-backstopped social upheaval, stay for the semiotic trench warfare.

Personally, as a middle aged dude with a receding grey hairline, stubble and a longstanding investment in basic black and lots of pockets, I've spent the last couple of months coming to terms with the fact that I am basically never more than a bluetooth earpiece and a pair of gas-station sunglasses away from looking like I'm gonna drop the Real Truth About Covid, Black Lives Matter and the Deep State on you from the front seat of a truck, and that's really not a look I want to go for. So, I've been trying to broaden my horizons and brighten my colour scheme lately.

I'm not super happy about it, but if that's the price of not looking like a racist mall ninja, so be it.
posted by mhoye at 7:24 AM on June 4, 2020 [72 favorites]


OK but I wasn't being a smartass, mhoye, perhaps one could comprehend a lack of sarcasm? This isn't lighthearted. I'm a queer and I dress that way. Bright and bold is what I wear. Skirts, kimonos, rainbow belts. Some of my stuff has bright flowers on it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


I guess if I add big buttons that say DEFUND THE COPS that might help, I dunno, how about a big Karl Marx hat.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:40 AM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


Personally, as a middle aged dude with a receding grey hairline, stubble...

Yup. I'm an older fella who, after a lifetime of trying and failing, has finally succeeded in growing some approximation of a full beard, only to have these jackholes ruin the accomplishment for me. Add to that, my wife, who tends to be kind-of unaware of the sartorial trends among the alt-right crowd, adamantly will not let me shave the beard off, she likes it so much.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2020 [2 favorites]


... And I would pencil in the need for a "Cybertruck update pack" for around 2024

What? Lol. Cybertruck is going to start off with the reputation the Miata or the VW Cabrio obtained over many years. No one is going is going to buy it to feel like a “real” man, unless their idea of masculinity is “Sniveling Draco Malfoy”.
posted by sideshow at 7:45 AM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


I guess if I add big buttons that say DEFUND THE COPS that might help...

Or a "my pronouns are he/him/his" pin. That's my plan.

*shrug* I'm a suburban dad who likes pockets, these are my peers who have gone off the deep end....but I wont follow them.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


OK but I wasn't being a smartass, mhoye, perhaps one could comprehend a lack of sarcasm?

My apologies, I misunderstood you.
posted by mhoye at 7:51 AM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


I was reminded when visiting Hawaii that the floral-print shirts are properly called "aloha shirts." A Hawaiian shirt is a shirt made in Hawaii.
posted by whir at 7:53 AM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]





seanmpuckett: "I guess if I add big buttons that say DEFUND THE COPS"

Except that, if I understood this bizarre big luau / boogaloo thing correctly, these "bois" are anti-cop
posted by chavenet at 7:53 AM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


All this waffling about what to wear reminds me of the whole safety pin thing after the 2016 election. If you're more concerned about how to look like an "ally" than how to be an ally, that's literally the definition of virtue signalling.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2020 [9 favorites]


Except that, if I understood this bizarre big luau / boogaloo thing correctly, these "bois" are anti-cop

Inaccurate. What they are is revolutionary fantasists. They're only anti-cop in that the existence of cops provide a convenient excuse for why they're not actually going out and starting the Boogaloo.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:59 AM on June 4, 2020 [9 favorites]


I thought about that essay specifically when I re-read Eco's Ur-Fascism the other day, points 10-12 in particular.
posted by jquinby at 8:00 AM on June 4, 2020 [8 favorites]


Floral prints? Hawaiian shirts? I am out of the loop. Is this where 21st century fascism converges with chan trolling?
posted by elkevelvet at 8:04 AM on June 4, 2020


Is this where 21st century fascism converges with chan trolling?

I mean, you're at least six years too late for that, if not more. But yes, the Boogaloo Bois got started on 4chan.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:08 AM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]


Um.

I feel like that Twitter thread linked above about the flower-print/Hawaiian/whatever shirts and some of the comments here are missing the kind of obvious thing - loose short-sleeve button-down shirts are totally a Known Tactic for carrying a concealed firearm when it's too warm for a jacket to be plausible.

I mean, I don't have any receipts or anything, but I feel like a lot of the reason the "Hawaiian shirt" thing has been embraced by the boogaloo crowd is that it was already gaining wide traction in the 2nd Amendment crowd.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:11 AM on June 4, 2020 [13 favorites]


is that it was already gaining wide traction in the 2nd Amendment crowd.

Untucked button down shirts gained traction whenever pistols got small enough for concealed carry. So likely even before WWII service members brought back aloha shirts back to the mainland in the first place.
posted by sideshow at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


I've long thought that if Tonka made full-size versions of their trucks and sold them to the general public, a sizable fraction of individuals would have them as their daily drivers.
posted by bonehead at 8:28 AM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]


These morons are wearing floral print shirts along with mall "tactical" clothing and Kevlar vests and shit. There's zero need to stop wearing floral/Hawaiian shirts because of people like this.

Stop panicking about things like Hawaiian shirts.

Fuck it, I'm wearing an Hawaiian style shirt TODAY, dammit.
posted by SoberHighland at 8:29 AM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


I've long thought that if Tonka made full-size versions of their trucks and sold them to the general public, a sizable fraction of individuals would have them as their daily drivers.

Technically they do: the Jeep Wrangler. There's lots of Wranglers in my neck of central FL and I've started to notice damn near every one sports a Punisher sticker, license plate or some other racist dog-whistle bullshit. Anytime I see Jeeps gathered I also expect to see Trump flags which seem to have replaced confederate flags for shocking the libs.
posted by photoslob at 8:41 AM on June 4, 2020 [7 favorites]


My second favorite sticker is MOLON LABE, usually near the deaths-head sticker.

I always want to ask "you know they were all killed, right? And Athens burned anyway? And shortly thereafter the glorious unification of Greece was plunged into the Peloponnesean War? And that the Spartans ultimately threw in with the Persians?"

But then maybe they have and the light changes and I'm like well whatever.
posted by jquinby at 8:52 AM on June 4, 2020 [23 favorites]


a big Karl Marx hat

A what now
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:53 AM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]


Untucked button down shirts gained traction whenever pistols got small enough for concealed carry.

Well, not quite; pistols small enough for concealed carry have existed for quite a long time—but prior to WWII the solution if you wanted to one bigger than a "pocket pistol" or derringer was probably a shoulder holster beneath a jacket. It's as men stopped wearing jackets as de rigeur all-season wear that pistols moved to inside the waistband. The shoulder holster is absolutely a better solution (particularly if you're getting in and out of vehicles), which is presumably why the Secret Service and similar folks still use them, even when it necessitates wearing a suit jacket in the sweltering DC heat.

It would amuse me if the MORON LUBE brigade decided to go back to tailored three-piece wool suits for the summer.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:30 AM on June 4, 2020 [6 favorites]


a big Karl Marx hat

He's never early, he's always late
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 9:58 AM on June 4, 2020 [10 favorites]


A what now

You know - for kids
posted by thelonius at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


Technically they do: the Jeep Wrangler.

There's also the Ford Raptor, the Dodge Ram Rebel, the current incarnation of the Power Wagon, whatever GM's working on, etc., etc., etc.

And beyond that, there's lift kits and LED light bars and super-bright headlights and custom bumpers (one of the bigger aftermarket manufacturers is literally named 'Iron Cross') and rolling coal and, yeah, it's a lot.
posted by box at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


Dammit. Back in the 90s I had to liven up my wardrobe and stop wearing black all the time because people started to look at me like I'd be the next school shooter. I'll be damned if I give up on my black t-shirts now. I mean, black is slimming, people! It hides my gut (and the rest of my torso), or so I tell myself.

I tried shaving my beard just recently, but as bald as I am, I looked like a thumb wearing glasses, but I couldn't grow my beard out to any sort of special forces cosplay length if I tried.

Seriously, though, I do pay attention to the assholes and their co-opting of what should be simple things available to all. That, of course, plays into their dogwhistle bullshit, that they can at once deny it, saying we're all being crazy paranoid, it's just a Hawaiian shirt, man, relax, and also so they can have their power trip and carving out a piece of normal life and tainting it so fully that it becomes off-limits to others.

And I don't doubt they gain in number through this appropriation. Imagine telling someone, hey, that okay sign, don't do that, man, it's a white power code thing now. They look at you, stunned by the absolute dumbness of the world that we live in, and make a couple choices: they listen, ask questions, and learn, or they laugh it off and think you're being paranoid, or maybe they freak out about it, deciding that this is the hill they'll die on, that they're tired of all these damn liberals telling them the things they grew up with are okay, and they're sick of it. And maybe they really, really embraced flashing the sign around. Maybe they go further down that rabbit hole, and hey, it'll really piss people off if I wear a punisher/cop shirt, that'll show them.

But no, my Hawaiian shirt will stay in the closet (even if I was back in the states, lets say) because there are two distinct messages I don't want to give off. I don't want these assholes to see me and think I in any way am on board with their bullshit, or reinforce their paranoid violence fantasy that there really is an army of people just like them. The other reason is I wouldn't want any person to think of me as one of those assholes.

Please, please, don't let them take away my boring plain color crewneck t-shirts, or my local brewery t-shirts though. I'd literally have nothing left, because I lack all style and am a hopeless middle aged fashion victim.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:00 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


The Tonka thing is already a thing. Lots of guys put Tonka stickers on their trucks. Most of them hate the government but looooove corporations. The core part of their identity for a lot of these guys comes down to a small number of corporate brands (truck brands, Cabelas, Punisher, Transformers, [Sportsball Team] etc.). And corporations are happy to oblige. It's not trivial to redesign trucks. That they've all been enlarged and given a hyper-macho facade tells you that this is a big force in the market. Look at utility vehicles in other countries, particularly outside of the English-speaking world. They're not massive, rolling cod-pieces. They're utility vehicles.

This is interesting to me because I live in a (suburban, formerly rural) place where roofers and accountants and auto-parts store clerks embrace this aesthetic whole-heartedly. Though it encompasses some of the militaristic branding, it's centered more on work. The gods of these men aren't special forces, they're roughnecks and loggers. "We put ourselves in harms way so that you can eat/drive/have a house to live in. We're special." Sound familiar? (It's no less a child's fantasy. I mean, I risk carpal tunnel syndrome so that there's a market for the crap they produce. It's the circle of death!) It's curious that the fetish objects are the similar though: big trucks, Oakleys, beards, etc. There's definitely a lot of crossover, and rage, alienation and violence always seem to be implicit in the signaling.
posted by klanawa at 11:03 AM on June 4, 2020 [9 favorites]


no fuck this, they can pry my aloha shirts from my cold dead hands
posted by a halcyon day at 11:49 AM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I think as long as you're not wearing a Hawaiian print shirt under a bunch of tacticool molle plate holders with an AR-15 on a combat sling you're probably good and not going to be mistaken for a booger.
posted by loquacious at 12:02 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


What loquacious said. The only time I'll take note of your Hawaiian shirt is if you're packing heat. Don't let fascists dictate your wardrobe.
posted by longdaysjourney at 12:07 PM on June 4, 2020 [7 favorites]


People might ask you detailed questions about the Pixar animation pipeline, though.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 12:10 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


People might ask you detailed questions about the Pixar animation pipeline, though.

Assuming you mean John Lasseter, he is probably better known for his extensive history of sexual harassment. But, like the traitorous Second Civil War fantasists, I don't think we should let that ruin a perfectly good style of shirt.
posted by jedicus at 12:20 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


Related: This Ask MeFi about a cis white guy asking how he can not look like a Nazi.

I do think cis white guys (like me) have a responsibility to present themselves in a non-threatening manner. But I would agree that trying to keep ahead of fascist clothing trends is a mug's game.
posted by Cash4Lead at 12:23 PM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


Or a "my pronouns are he/him/his" pin. That's my plan.

Sorry to tell ya, but if I saw that button on a middle-aged dude I'd probably assume he was making fun of pronouns as an issue. It'd read kind of like a button that said CISHET PRIDE.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:44 PM on June 4, 2020 [4 favorites]


All this waffling about what to wear reminds me of the whole safety pin thing after the 2016 election. If you're more concerned about how to look like an "ally" than how to be an ally, that's literally the definition of virtue signalling.

But there's a difference between wanting to look like an ally and not wanting to look like a threat.
posted by pykrete jungle at 2:47 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


As someone who looks like any one of the bad guys in this article, I do not think I need to change my look to fit in with other people's idea of an ally. I can almost guarantee that being a tall, bearded, muscular white guy in non-descript jeans and a black T (throw in my daily rings, necklaces, sunglasses, and ball cap for full tacticool operator cosplayer) has made my participation in rallies and actions more of a mindfuck to cops or rightwing counter protesters. I'm happy to have someone go home and be like, "even that typical white redneck looking guy was holding a BLM sign, weird." That seems like a good tradeoff from being instantly visibly identifiable as an "ally," whatever that means.

I'm an abled cis white male, so my allyship is always going to be an uphill battle against learned racism, sexism, ableism, and more. In my experience and opinion, allyship is about showing up, doing the work, listening, learning, and following the lead of the people whose fight you're supporting. Not about how you dress. Now I'm laughing thinking about what a white guy ally "should" dress like anyways.

Remember, these things are not real uniforms. If you're worried people are gonna get you confused with a boogaloo boy, I might just suggest not doing anything a boogaloo boy would ever do. Actions first. Clothes later.
posted by Cpt. The Mango at 3:05 PM on June 4, 2020 [9 favorites]


Can we get them to coopt neckties next so we can all stop wearing them? Or how about oversize shoes, colorful face paint, frilly jumpsuits, and red noses?
posted by ctmf at 3:32 PM on June 4, 2020 [5 favorites]


Or how about oversize shoes, colorful face paint, frilly jumpsuits, and red noses?

Those have already been co-opted by a different set of nightmares.
posted by mhoye at 3:52 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


Are we the baddies? Mitchell and Webb discuss death's head symbolism.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 4:56 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


tacticool
posted by djseafood at 5:56 PM on June 4, 2020


And beyond that, there's lift kits and LED light bars and super-bright headlights and custom bumpers (one of the bigger aftermarket manufacturers is literally named 'Iron Cross') and rolling coal and, yeah, it's a lot.

I live in Canada (& don't get out much), so I see a pale reflection of this stuff up here. And lots of video from the US. There's a Black guy down the street with one of those trucks... But a lot of this just looks like marketing, like the author implies in the comic. We're sellin' trucks 'n guns, so everything's fine!
posted by sneebler at 7:04 PM on June 4, 2020 [1 favorite]


All I know is that if you see a cop wearing Oakleys, turn around and go the other way, cuz those mofos are looking for an excuse to crack skulls.
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:21 PM on June 4, 2020 [3 favorites]


Another aspect of this trend is the militarised fetishisation of fitness gear. One of 2019's hot fitness accessories was the weighted vest; nothing wrong with that in principle, but have a look at this Men's Health Top 10 Review and tell me if you could tell half of these from tactical body armour without a close inspection? (In fact, for 5.11 Tactical's product, you couldn't, because is is their body armour, but with weights rather than ballistic plates.)

A few months ago - when gyms were still open! - I bought a new gym pack. It is in all respects almost perfect: capacious, comfortable to wear even fully-loaded, adjustable, and features numerous storage compartments including a wet-lined one for a towel. However, when I ordered it I was presented with options of black, black/green camo, black/grey camo, 'Army Green', 'Desert', 'Navy Blue' and grey. I went for grey. It came with a velcro US flag - in subdued greyscale, naturally - which now sits in the back of a drawer.

I spent 20 years in the military. I don't need to cosplay some Hollywood image of a special forces operator just to go to the gym, thank you.
posted by Major Clanger at 1:58 AM on June 5, 2020 [12 favorites]


I stand by what I said last time around: Been mulling this graphic essay today, and I think I walk away with the message not to sleep on this constellation of signifiers--not to dismiss it as cosplay, or as a .mil-derivative fad. That's what lets its danger fly under the radar and just...blend in, like some reverse grey man. This is an appearance-conscious vanifesto, and we ignore this harbinger of anticipatory fascism at our peril.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:33 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


Another aspect of this trend is the militarised fetishisation of fitness gear. One of 2019's hot fitness accessories was the weighted vest; nothing wrong with that in principle, but have a look at this Men's Health Top 10 Review and tell me if you could tell half of these from tactical body armour without a close inspection? (In fact, for 5.11 Tactical's product, you couldn't, because is is their body armour, but with weights rather than ballistic plates.)

This is stunning, but should not be surprising. There is a subset of men who are so profoundly insecure that the mere thought of stepping outside the narrowest interpretation of masculinity fills them with unimaginable dread. We all know that these weighted vests would work just as well if they were pastel colored, but it's anathema to even suggest that.

This military fetish is intertwined with this deep fear some men hold that they will never be as manly, as tough, or as cool as the men who have come before them (many of whom were distant, alcoholic wife-beaters). Why they think that macho cosplay is the answer is beyond me.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:26 AM on June 5, 2020 [8 favorites]


The effect of clothing norms and signifiers runs deep, especially with men who have been socialized to only be allowed to express themselves in a few ways. Tell someone that acceptable forms of expression lie only in the spectrum of toxic masculinity, and they will align with that, and it will change who they are. It’s the Sapir-Worf theorem for social identity: Our presentation shapes our identity and our identity changes with our presentation. I was socialized male in rural America and my conflict with masculinity has shaped so much of my life. I’ve outspokenly rejected so much of the culture I came from but if I was tall and muscular and could wear clothes without feeling like a slob, who knows where I’d be now?

I am wearing a flowered tshirt right now though and I am pissed about this article because I bought this shirt last year and it’s the first colorful thing I’ve been able to let myself wear in my damn adult life because my body image and masculinity woes have basically made me want to swaddle myself in many layers of grey my whole life. Wearing a flowered tshirt that fits and some shorts is a full fledged breakthrough for me and though they have done so much more harm to others I am angry that toxic masculinity is taking away this too. I mean, dear god, toxic masculinity, please leave me and everyone else the hell alone and let me stop having to confront my gender identity and body issues every time I try to pick something to freakin wear. It’s exhausting trying to outpace this culture.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 7:27 AM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


There is a subset of men who are so profoundly insecure that the mere thought of stepping outside the narrowest interpretation of masculinity fills them with unimaginable dread. We all know that these weighted vests would work just as well if they were pastel colored, but it's anathema to even suggest that.

This military fetish is intertwined with this deep fear some men hold that they will never be as manly, as tough, or as cool as the men who have come before them (many of whom were distant, alcoholic wife-beaters).


On preview, Ben Trismegistus, yes exactly. This is me, I was acculturated to feel this way, and it is a hell of a thing to try to live with when you don’t want it. I am trying through reading and conversation and practice and therapy to excise these tendrils of masculinity from my mind and I just don’t know that I’ll have enough time on earth to get them all. But it is a lot better to be able to say “this insecurity is something the patriarchy planted in you to participate in its enforcement, and you can be a conscientious objector” than to just feel failure of values and standards on all sides all the time.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 7:38 AM on June 5, 2020 [4 favorites]


I think it is kind of interesting about the fascist/militaristic ideas of this clothing, but I actually see the same parallels in other high fashion clothing as well, and think the identification/fake performative aspects of that type of clothing are very similar, but at opposite ends of the class/income spectrum.

High fashion represents the 'soft power' side, with the utter uselessness from a functional perspective, the high maintenance costs, uncomfortable in weather extremes, the fact that it's seasonal and afterwards becomes obsolete, and that some require help to even wear, and finally the fact it's pretty easy to spend the US median monthly income on one outfit.

This represents the 'hard power' side, with it being relatively cheap, easy to maintain, and useful (tons of pockets) from a functional perspective, all-season, and moderately timeless.

I see the vehicles customization as the mid-ground between the clothes and soft power vs hard power from a class/income perspective. Fancy trucks generally make up at least 50% of the new vehicles sold in the US that cost more than $50k, the rare month up to 70% (ie: not Porsche, Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, BMW cars and SUVs, fancy pickups.) and a fancy pickup costs way more than most couture on an individual basis.

I liked GI Joe as a kid, and read The Punisher occasionally; I actually wanted to buy Punisher logo clothes in 1995 simply because the logo was cool, and there was none available. Seeing that was a lucrative market wasn't hard even for a kid. I finally started seeing it on blacks and Hispanics in the early 2000s, way before these guys took it over. Still not sure why Spider man and Captain America clothes are so widely available (Captain America represents similar logoing and decoloring, available at Old Navy) while The Punisher is not.


Villains and Storm Troopers have been as popular for as long - maybe you've seen the meme from the early 2000s that college girls dressed like Han Solo, with the vest, button down, high boots, and similar color combinations, but everyone who was actually into Star Wars always dressed like the Empire. I don't think you could rightfully make the case that all of them 'like' the ideas of The Empire - the outfits are just cooler.


It's also very interesting that highly customized, blacked out cars, dark clothing, and Punisher outfits were all co-opted from blacks and hispanics in the late 1990s. I wonder what those guys think of all this?
posted by The_Vegetables at 2:25 PM on June 5, 2020


Can I just add that out of all the weight vests I’ve trained with, the 5.11 vest is by far the most comfortable and it fits a really wide range of body shapes? I wear my Thin Red Flag patch on the back and a patch with Daniel Striped Tiger that says “Look for the helpers” on the front. The kids and parents I interact with when I’m working out get a kick out of that one.
I am a person who has to wear 5.11 for work, and their uniforms are honestly much better fitting than what we wore before 5.11 became de rigueur. 99% of the time I elect to wear shorts and a polo or departmental t-shirt, all 5.11, and they actually make women-specific sizes. Other than some jobshirts that aren’t affiliated with anywhere I work/have worked, I don’t wear this stuff outside of my job; I have been wearing it for over a decade and I look forward to my days off when I can enjoy my terrible fashion sense.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 3:00 PM on June 5, 2020 [1 favorite]


Can we get them to coopt neckties next so we can all stop wearing them? Or how about oversize shoes, colorful face paint, frilly jumpsuits, and red noses?

"Clown World" and derivatives are already alt-right memes but I haven't seen anybody dressing up.
posted by atoxyl at 12:07 AM on June 6, 2020


Rightwing Shitheads Are Trying to Ruin Hawaiian Shirts Now and I'm not having it. Nope, nope, nope. I will not allow assholes to claim them. Aloha is the Hawaiian word for love, affection, peace, compassion and mercy, that is commonly used as a simple greeting but has a deeper cultural and spiritual significance to native Hawaiians, in which the term is used to define a force that holds together existence. Aloha Spirit is real, and Fascism is antithetical to it. If I see some jerkwad with an Aloha shirt and whatever BS flag I'm going to mention that Aloha means love and peace and maybe they're confused. And maybe note that my 6 year old Hawaiian grandson held a Black Lives Matter sign at a protest in Honolulu.
posted by theora55 at 5:51 PM on June 7, 2020 [3 favorites]


"All this waffling about what to wear reminds me of the whole safety pin thing after the 2016 election. If you're more concerned about how to look like an "ally" than how to be an ally, that's literally the definition of virtue signalling."

Kinda an odd complaint in a thread all about signaling, even if it's generally menace signaling.

It's also worth noting that part of the goal of fash-fashion is plausible deniability and ambiguity, so, yeah, you don't have to give up your standard looks but you should definitely think about how you accessorize them.
posted by klangklangston at 12:10 PM on June 8, 2020


These guys always seem to assume that if the big civil war or revolution happens, they'll naturally be the ones who come out on top.
posted by jquinby at 12:16 PM on June 8, 2020


On the one hand, I guess it’s nice if all the assholes dress the same so as to more easily identify them as such. On the other hand, it’s inconvenient if they adopt as their uniform something that I like to wear. I just nearly bought a new cycling kit that has tropical floral print. Maybe I shouldn’t now? Does the fact that it’s a Lycra cycling kit negate the apparent right wing nut job connotation?
posted by The World Famous at 4:59 PM on June 8, 2020 [1 favorite]


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