Chewing my keyboard

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The War on Fashion

Has anyone noticed that the Labour government seem to have a real uniform/fashion thing going here.

They've obviously decided that why they don't like yobs wearing hoodies is because they'd look far better in orange. Has anyone ever considered that maybe a load of youths wandering about in bright orange jumpsuits hanging floral baskets might be intimidatory? In fact, more intimidatory than youths in hoodies on the grounds that they're not just suspected yobs - they've been tried and judged to be yobbish already.

I can almost understand the 'evading CCTV' thing at Bluewater. After all, people are discouraged wearing crash helmets, balaclavas, etc. in banks. It's not even the dress code thing necessarily (after all, lots of clubs have dress codes and a shopping mall is private property), although this is a debate in itself. It's the fact the government felt the need to jump in and agree that I object to. I think they're missing the point entirely, and have an abnormal fixation on fashion... and I'll explain why.

The CCTV issue can be pretty much dismissed as a red herring immediately, unless Bluewater instigate a policy so that all headgear must be removed before entering the shopping centre (a bit authoritarian but at least vaguely comprehensible). Why? Well, I somehow suspect that if I wore my very wide brimmed black hat in Bluewater (it shadows the whole top half of my face so you can only see my lips which I usually paint bright red. I think it looks glamorous), I wouldn't get thrown out. In fact, if a whole gaggle of us went in wearing large floppy straw hats completely shadowing our faces from CCTV, I doubt anyone would blink an eyelid. However, if a load of vaguely 'chav-looking' youths were standing about taking videophone pictures and flicking cigarette ash whilst wearing tweed, cords and brogues, I bet they'd be chucked out fast enough.

Hence, the problem isn't the hoodies. So perhaps it's the fact they're in a group loitering... Although what's loitering? Are we going to prevent people standing about in a particular place in a group in a shopping centre for a specified amount of time? After all, if a group of 15 old ladies are sitting about in a shopping centre smoking then they're theoretically 'loitering' but I'm sure we wouldn't want to throw them out. However, if a similar group of 14-16 year olds wearing sportswear were sitting about in a similar place then they might be intimidating people by 'loitering about in a group'.

Hence, the problem isn't CCTV, it isn't hoodies, it isn't being in a group loitering. The reason why these particular people are intimidating is because they are 'youths who may have a resemblance to people on the chavscum website or Vicky Pollard'. These youths at the moment happen to wear hoodies and the fact of their presence, regardless of what they happen to be doing, intimidates people doing their shopping.

Given that these youths can't exactly change what they look like (as I say, I doubt they'd stay undisturbed long in the shopping centre even if they were wearing pinstriped suits) then who else might intimidate people doing their shopping? Well, black people. So how about Bluewater ban black people? Offensive? Racist? Well, obviously.

Everyone agrees that being harassed or assaulted whilst visiting a shopping centre is a problem. However, there is plenty of security in shopping centres (usually out the front of shops) so why don't they wait until someone (in hoodies or otherwise) actually does something that is intimidatory or violent and THEN throw them out. A perfect system that doesn't discriminate against 'possibly scary-looking' people, 'foreign-looking' people, groups of people standing about, people wearing large hats, people wearing hooded tops and caps, etc. Simple...

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