About Face

This is a great, long comic about the semiotics of the new fascism:

About Face: Death and surrender to power in the clothing of men:

It pairs nicely with this long twitter rant about Beau Fucking Brummell.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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26 Responses:

  1. CTD says:

    Before I clicked, I thought it was going to be about identity-politics-driven attempts to regulate speech and otherwise enforce conformity.

  2. jwz says:

    I've seen a bunch of commentary on both of these links, out there on the interwebs, of guys (of course guys) saying things like, "but I wear black because I don't like to stand out" or "but I have a beard because I don't like shaving" or "but I think I look good in a plain suit" and other things that try to portray whatever their own personal style is as a non-style, or as "just laziness", or as a blank slate. And the thing it makes me think of most is The Devil Wears Prada:

    Miranda: Something funny?

    Andrea: No. No, no. Nothing's... You know, it's just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I'm still learning about all this stuff and, uh...

    Miranda: 'This... stuff'? Oh, OK. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select, I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back.

    But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise. It's not lapis. It's actually cerulean. And you're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a series of cerulean ballgowns. And then it was Yves Saint Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it filtered on down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.

    However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it's sort of comical how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room... from a pile of 'stuff'.

    • MattyJ says:

      I wear black because I'm a rude boy and I'd be ostracized by the community if I so much as wear the wrong color shoelaces.

      Unrelated: that Nazi taking an elbow to the chops will never get old.

    • NT says:

      Miranda has an old story about #007BA7 and presumably every other color and style that has ever been manufactured. Other than controlling the availability of choices, it's a bit much to claim that everybody is ruled by these stories that almost nobody knows. I've read some fashion books and those folks think they popularized the cigarette.

      I wonder how far you can get in the military while being a neo-nazi. The service is much more diverse than for example San Francisco, people should come out of it less racist than when they went in. Mercenaries may be another matter, particularly if they are made up of the neo-nazi rejects from the US military.

      • jwz says:

        "everybody is ruled by these stories that almost nobody knows"

        "What is Culture, Alex?"

        • NT says:

          If cerulean were one of only a few color choices on the shelves Miranda would have a point. As it, is she is claiming some sort of patent on behalf of the fashion industry for a straightforward interpolation of pigments that have existed since prehistory. Back when there were only a few colors available, the reason was pigment technology.
          Culture is shaped by some combination of physical reality and memetic evolution. Cabals of pretentious urbanites are a small contribution to the latter.

  3. tobias says:

    making fun of people's clothing is fun.

  4. jancsika says:

    > It pairs nicely with this long twitter rant about Beau Fucking Brummell.

    Alexandra Rowland should do a "Back to the Future" reboot set in the 40s where the protagonist backports expressive male fashion to black people.

    "Hey Cab Calloway, you know style you've been looking for? Well check this out!"

  5. cheide says:

    Dang, I was wondering how in the world it had become acceptable for Punisher logos to show up on police cars. Another thing we can thank The Forever Wars for.

    • just b says:

      ! absolutely not saying military=racists !

      ...only that the concept and purpose of the organization is attractive to pre-existing racists.

      my father is a decorated veteran and not white.

      • BHN says:

        The military has always been attractive to people who either want to experience killing other people or learn about weapons and demolitions, regardless of their reasons for wanting those things.

        That is of course in addition to those who enter just to get a paycheck when jobs are scarce, or to get an education or job skills without a lifetime of debt, and all of the people such as your father who join for more noble reasons.

  6. just b says:

    educational if specious / cool story.

    OBVIOUSLY BB had money else he couldn't spend hours prepping, or even be anywhere near the court.

    ALSO shall we assume it was merely an oversight and not an attempt to frame this as white cisgendered oppression when author fails to mention BB was gay?

    we know he spent five hours making himself pretty because the Prince (!) used to spend that much time observing him bathe and shave and flex...

    fashion is expressive
    and exclusionary
    uplifting and

    and this rant is certainly hyperbole

    • ALSO shall we assume it was merely an oversight and not an attempt to frame this as white cisgendered oppression when author fails to mention BB was gay?

      Or maybe "fashion" and "sex" don't need to have anything to do with each other? And she wasn't talking about who he had sex with, she was talking about how he fucked over men's fashion.

      Also, what makes you think @_alexrowland is cisgendered? Do you know her? I sure don't, but I see this on her Twitter bio: "(She/they)".

    • It's a fun rant, but seems rather ahistorical and classist.

      Brummel had his reign a few decades after the French revolution and the ensuing "terror". The super-rich in France experienced first hand what happened when the general population (i.e., the poor) ceased to hide their sniggers at fabulous fashion excesses and realised that they could just, you know, kill the toffs.

      There was an enormous exodus of rich people from France, and quite a lot ended up in England, and were an influence there. Everybody found more subtle ways to display their wealth: Gone were the enormous gowns on women and gone were the powdered wigs on men.

      To blame this societal shift on one dandy (and one offence amongst many seems to be that he "was not a gentleman or an aristocrat") is ludicrous. Normal people never wore these fun clothes: It was only the 1%, and then that 1% collectively decided that perhaps it was time to tone things down a bit. For a while.

  7. Yildo says:

    I found this Twitter thread interesting as a counter-point to the Brummell rant. It tries to explain the same thing in terms of mass movements rather than one individual.

    • jwz says:


      Having read the Beau Brummel thread, and three or four other subsequent threads from baffled fashion historians debunking it, I’m both kind of sad and very encouraged to see that the key to getting people to believe you when you tell them stuff on here is wild and unexpected rage

      • NT says:

        Martin Luther King, Honoring Dr. DuBois, 1968:

        "Above all he did not content himself with hurling invectives for emotional release and then to retire into smug, passive satisfaction. History had taught him it is not enough for people to be angry - the supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger becomes a transforming force."

    • Karellen says:

      How do people write a twit thread that starts "1/23"???

      Do they write a blog post into a special twit client, and then that breaks it up into however many groups of 134 chars and sticks "xx/yy " on the front of each part, which then posts all the individual twits automatically?

      Or do they write a blog post in.... I dunno, fucking notepad I guess, and then split it up manually into twits, and then count how many they've got, and then put xx/yy on each part as they post it?

      Either way, why don't they just write a fucking blog post, and post it on a fucking blog? You know, so people could read it without having to skip past their username and the date and like buttons and replies and shit every three fucking lines?

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