From the nihilist beatnik chic of old army field jackets and black turtlenecks, (with black leotards and heavy eye shadow for the pallid ‘50s femmes), to the Nehru jackets and bell bottoms of the flower power period, the American mood has been reflected in the dress of the dominant social attitude.
Now, as our nation verges on war, the trend has once again defined itself, and our leaders, media stars and business moguls have all adopted a funeral air.
Black is back with, if you will, a vengeance!
The president, his advisors, the opposition party leaders and the assorted talking head neo-journalists of every network are dressed in black suits, often with blood red ties, but that’s another story entirely. T.V. hosts welcome guests all of whom are dressed in black. Black-suited Democrats pretend to differ from their Republican mirror images, despite the obvious visual evidence that both are part of the same power elite ruling class.
Now black is one of the few serious symbols in Western culture. The “women in black” demonstrators who line main streets around the world each Friday afternoon to protest against war understand the impact of their costumes. “Death” and “evil” are the meanings attached to black, and that aura carried over to the conquest of Africa, where black people were sold as domestic animals because of their pigmentation, and continues at the heart of the racist problems of our society today. Hell is a place of eternal darkness and infernal fires that shed no light on the suffering. Crime occurs in the dark of night, and the Pentagon plans for a night assault in the dark of the Afghan moon.
It may well be said that America has joined the Dark Side, as depicted in the “Star Wars” films. Our overwhelming military technology, with GPS-guided smart munitions and total air superiority is much like the Empire’s Death Star, and the stated ambitions to monger a “New American Century” by force of arms around the globe certainly rhymes with “imperialism” in the poems of power. The operative question then becomes who is Darth Vader, and where are the Jedi knights, now that we need them?
If clothes make a statement, it doesn’t take Obi-Wan Kenobi to feel an imbalance in the Force.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.