Thursday, March 22, 2012

The “Hoodie” culture

Hoodies.  What images does a male teenager wearing a hoodie conjure?  Or especially a dark skinned male teenager?  Images of a soccer or basketball jock?  Or something else?  Stereotypes are everywhere.  Some are positive; others not so much.

Hoodies are a utilitarian feature of a sweatshirts and rain gear to keep the head warm or dry.  They are worn by millions of people with only a tiny portion having any evil intent.

But in all honesty, hoodies also conjure images of gangs and hoodlums who use them to keep their identity concealed while performing their hoodlummy behaviors.   Hoodies are associated with hoodlums today every bit as much as long slicked back hair, ciggies in rolled up t-shirt sleeves, and jeans were  associated with “hoods” in the 50’s.

Certainly one should not be declared guilty of breaking the law or thought of being a gang member simply because of how they are dressed.  Although, frankly, the way we are dressed may draw increased suspicion about our activities or propensities. 

But there must be something to the “hoodie” stereotype.  Britain apparently has a severe case of hoodie gangs:

“Headliners”, a United Kingdom charity that promotes personal development of young people through journalism reported this about the wearing of hoodies:

The government and the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, have publicly backed the decision by certain shopping centres in the UK to ban young people wearing hoodies.

It is crimes like the one perpetuated by a “hoodie gang” that brings suspicion to the wearing of this multipurpose item of clothing:

Guilty:  The hoodie gang that stabbed boy, 14, to death in “initiation ritual”

Or another…

Hoodie gang beats up teacher

Watch any cop show on TV and the most common street thugs are depicted as wearing either black skull caps or hoodies.

And now we have a “hoodie march” protesting the lack of a kangaroo court in Sanford, FL.   Give me a break!

Our culture has a nasty, degrading habit of promoting mainstream style based on the styles adopted by street thugs and low life.  Why do we do this?  Why do we legitimize slimy culture by mimicking its style in clothing, music, the “attitude” portrayed in a certain walk, and other manifestations associated with those whose behaviors are radical fringe anti-social, rebellious, and illicit?

Responsible parents owe it to their children to avoid styles of clothing and forms of speech and music associated with lowlife and street thugs.  The old adage of “sleep with dogs and wake up with fleas” also pertains to mimicking the styles and behaviors of lowlife.  What business do these have in serving as role models for our kids?  I submit, NONE. 

But then again, it appears that the “hip” among us consider it too “geeky” or “establishment” to mimic the moral, the successful, and those of outstanding character.   We’re “cool” if we mimic styles associated with gangsta rap.

From Wikipedia:

Before the late 1990s, gangsta rap, while a big-selling genre, had been regarded as well outside of the pop mainstream, committed to representing the experience of the inner-city and not "selling out" to the pop charts. However, the rise of Bad Boy Records, propelled by the massive crossover success of Bad Boy head Sean "Puffy" Combs's 1997 ensemble album, No Way Out, on the heels of the media attention generated by the murders of 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G., signaled a major stylistic change in gangsta rap (or as it is referred to on the East Coast, hardcore rap), as it morphed into a new subgenre of hip hop which would become even more commercially successful and popularly accepted.

I suspect that Tebow-mania may be quite short-lived.  I would not be surprised to see “Tebowing” elicit more mockery than respect.  It’s not “gangsta” enough.


Disclaimer:  I wrote this piece before learning that Geraldo Rivera wrote a nearly identical opinion HERE.  I would be receiving the same blind criticism as Rivera if I had his same exposure.  I appreciate my relative anonymity.

I seldom agree with Rivera’s liberal positions, but those of us in this culture who are tired of its incessant pandering to low-life as our cultural mantra will tend to agree with us in this case.

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