Sunday, June 15, 2008

Would an Obama presidency mean less baggy pants?

So asks Mary Battiata at The Huffington Post:

Lately I've been wondering what an Obama White House might mean for the future of bling. For the fate of heavy gold, medallions, below-the-butt denim, the whole hip-hop gangsta fashion habit. What if January 20, 2009 turned out to be not just a cultural and clothing pivot point for adults -- a return to the minimalism of sleek, 60s-era sharkskin suits, the containment of golf-ball sized Barbara Bush costume pearls -- but a watershed fashion moment for teenaged boys? Picture it. On Inauguration Day next year, thousands and thousands of young men and boys from city street corners to suburbs, look up from their X-Boxes and catch a glimpse of the impeccable President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama climbing the steps of the Capitol and suddenly feel... unfashionable. Out of it. Old. What if they are overcome by the same stunned, something's-happening-here feeling that teenagers in the early 60s, their closets full of sock hop regalia, felt when they first laid eyes on The Beatles in 1964, on the nationally televised Ed Sullivan Show. For adults, this kind of moment is, at most, something to take note of. To a teenager, it's a gale force warning of imminent social tsunami, an urgent prod from the eyeballs and the amygdala that to everything there is a season, and now is the time to change, change, change. Ask not what you can do for your closet, but what your closet, if ignored, can do to you.

For those that don't follow hip-hop, it won't be noticed that this change is already happening. As rock musicians no longer resemble the cardigan wearing hair-in-the-eyes manner of Kurt Cobain, neither do today's rappers resemble the fashions of Eminem or early 2000s era Jay-Z, who by the way dresses nearly completely different nowadays:

The "gangsta" style has already gone nearly out of fashion, with 50 Cent being the only mainstream rapper that comes to mind as still reveling in it. Kanye West, the Cool Kids, Lupe Fiasco and others are part of a healthy evolution of the genre.

As for Battiata's argument, it seems she has engaged in the very common act of 2008, which is using Barack Obama as a canvas for the change you want to see in America, even if it's change in fashion. Obama is only running to be in charge of the executive branch of the federal government for a four year term, not to be Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

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