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Florida, guerra ai pantaloni abbassati

Tempi duri per i pantaloni abbassati e i neo-smutandati. Florida sul sentiero di guerra. L’articolo del Guardian del 10.5.2011:

Belt up, young man

Florida wants to ban sagging and Obama hates it too, but can anything stop blokes wearing their jeans below their pants? Plus, some habitual ‘saggers’ tell us why they wear their trousers slow-slung

Alex Needham, with interviews by Laura Barnett, Monday 9 May 2011 20.30 BST

Article history

Florida’s attempt to ban young men from “sagging” – wearing jeans so low they show their underpants – has plenty of precedents. In 2008, on the campaign trail, Barack Obama told MTV that “brothers should pull up their pants”. A year before, the mayor of Delcambre, Louisiana, threatened six months in jail and a $500 fine for any man allowing his jeans to slide down his buttocks. The sight of exposed boxer shorts has caused consternation this side of the pond too: last year, 18-year-old Ellis Drummond was threatened with an Asbo for wearing trousers so low that they were showing his underpants. In the end, the attempt had to be abandoned.

The fact is that not only has the saggy jean proved impervious to attempts to drive it off the street, it has actually mutated to survive. While the look is most associated with hip-hop culture, where it originated in the early 90s, young indie kids not overly endowed in the arse department also tend to wear their jeans hanging low. The godfather of the skinny jean, Hedi Slimane, designed his denims for Dior Homme to sit well below the hip-bone, and plenty more brands have followed suit. A jean that’s tight in the leg and low-slung in the crotch is not easy to wear – climbing over anything is particularly challenging – but that hasn’t deterred the nation’s teenage boys, or the older hipsters, buying posher versions of the look.

So why has the desire to expose one’s buttocks and boxers to the elements proved so enduring, and how come it unites fans of both These New Puritans and 50 Cent? The answer is, simply, rebellion. It’s well documented that the look comes from prisoners having their belts taken away in case they use them to hang themselves. Though showing your barely clad backside to an unsuspecting world carries only a dim echo of this lawless attitude, that echo is amplified when the authorities fall into the trap of trying to criminalise it. There’s also the fact that showing your arse is an insult that predates hip-hop by centuries – this is simply a muted version, hence its persistent popularity with teenage boys. Hip-hop has also permeated popular culture to such an extent that teenage boys aren’t bothered by accusations that a look which may seem threatening in South Central, LA, looks simply ridiculous in St Albans, Hertfordshire. The culture is global now.

The responses to sagging say something about the different ways in which we regard male and female bodies. When women wear their jeans so low it shows off their knickers, it’s undoubtedly regarded (if not intended) as sexually alluring. When teenage boys do it, it’s a moral panic. Yet there’s no sexual intent in sagging. We’re a long way from Robert Plant and Mick Jagger wearing trousers so tight you could have discerned their religion from 10 rows back. Gay men, by-and-large, have shunned the saggy-jeaned look. In fact, pointing out that in displaying your bottom you might be making it an object of desire might be one thing that would get teenage boys to hitch their strides up. Otherwise, no amount of nagging will stop young men sagging.


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