Today, I accompanied a friend of mine to a court hearing. He was charged with “maliciously voting” (a form of vote fraud), because he went to the polls using what was once his home address – after the city had used “Imminent Domain” to seize the trailerpark in which he lived, throw out all 200 residents, and bulldoze the whole shebang to make way for a Yuppie-style housing development. He was, you see, technically homeless not a resident and, therefore, not entitled to a say in how things are run. He argued that the law allows him to vote at his former address if he intends to return to that address, which he does. However, the judge knows my friend is deluded, that he will never return because the very street where he lived no longer exists. My friend was found guilty and now has something he never had before, a criminal record.
But that isn’t the real subject of this blog posting. Instead, I want to talk about something I realized today. As we waited in the courthouse hallway and then as we sat in the courtroom I noticed this, specifically: All the court officials and myself were, what for lack of a better term I would call “dressed-up” in business-like clothes (ties, suit jackets, solid-soled shoes), while all the people being processed by the court wore clothes that made them look like urchins in an old ” Little Rascals” comedy.
I takes me back about ten years, to when I worked as airport limousine-driver for the city’s largest hotel. The head of the hotel’s valet department (which encompassed my job, the bellhops, and the parking valets) was an older black gentleman named Dwight, who was always immaculately dressed in the finest suits. He was constantly infuriated by the propensity of the younger employees to dress as what he referred to as “ragamuffins.” Time and again he tried to explain how droopy pants, backward hats, oversize shirts, and all other accoutrement of modern youth fashion served to undermine the wearer’s career. “Nobody’s gonna respect you when you look like that!” he’d try to tell them.
Dwight was correct. Wardrobe has a tremendous effect upon how we are perceived by others. Few persons in authority will take seriously the opinions of one who looks like a five-year-old who did a bad job dressing himself. And even more importantly, and I think Dwight knew this on an unconscious level, few persons who dress like said five-year-old would be able to look into a mirror and take himself seriously. In other words, dressing like an adolescent fresh off the sandlot baseball field will likely undermine one’s deep-down self-esteem, self-limit one’s thought processes, and cause one to settle for less in life.
And now to the paranoid part of my discourse: I wonder, is it possible that the powers-that-be in our society, what we would have once called “the establishment,” have purposely sold the lower class youth on these ridiculous fashions in order to further marginalize them? It would be a pretty neat way to keep the poor in their place.
Please note – In this essay, I am speaking of the males looking like urchins. I haven’t addressed the females, who all looked like streetwalkers. Everything I say about the effect of the males’ clothes goes for the females’ clothes, with the addition of causing the females to be “sexually objectified,” which leads to a host of other problems.