Sunday, 14 September 2008

The Great Downlevelling to the Lowest Common Denominator

Another snippet from the same thread at VFR Michelle's physique, cont.

Lawrence Auster, having received criticism because he thematised Michelle Obama's appearance, wrote:
Of course, in our society, it is considered unworthy or silly--beneath the level of serious intellectual discussion--to draw attention to or criticize the physical qualities and dress of public people.
I replied:
That is an interesting point and does apply not just to public people. I think it ought to be seen in a broader context because it is part of the sickening "we are all one anyway so what does appearance mean" philosophy that has gone a long way already to undermine our sense of what is proper and decent. Dress used to be one of the most important social markers, its details firmly codified by law within the European corporate system. Not more than three generations ago, even though it had ceased to be a legal requirement, traditions were still strong enough that, for example, a member of the middle classes would frown on a working class woman who left the house without wearing an apron. Anything like that has gone to the dustbin of history, but instead of arriving at a--well--decent and proper solution, we have come together once again at the very lowest common denominator, which is to appear as sluttish and yobbofied as possible.

Female politicians are looking like personal assistants showing cleavage at any time of the day, nice girls are wearing tattoos and a ring through their nostrils. Would they, as they ought to, wear cashmere jerseys and pleated skirts, they'd come across more incongruous than a little green man from outer space, and when the upmarket hooker the French President married made an attempt to look ultra-respectable for meeting the Queen and ended up as the cartoon character of a coy schoolgirl, nobody laughed. Instead, the media, who wouldn't know style even if it hit them square in the face, went over the top to let us know how "she stole the show" from the octogenarian monarch. (Pictures here and here.)

A society that has forgotten what "embarrassment" is, is doomed.

As Jacqueline Kennedy was mentioned in the course of the discussion, this blog entry may explain further what I mean.
It will never cease to amaze me how people can consider the discussion of appearance and deportment, of which dress is not an unimportant part, irrelevant, even shallow. Appearance and deportment is, first and foremost, an expression of how we see ourselves and wish to be seen by others, a statement of respect for those with whom we socialize and a manifestation of dignity. Those who find this irrelevant clearly state where they stand.