George Will’s Jihad on Jeans

Image from <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mannequin_with_jeans.jpg">Wikimedia Commons</a> used under a Creative Commons license

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


George Will is officially trying to be America’s crotchetiest pundit. Fresh from his lame attempt to deny climate change, he has stepped into his time machine, set the dial to 1957, and unleashed a diatribe about the social scourge that is…blue jeans. Seriously. Playing off another denim demonizer in the Wall Street Journal, in yesterday’s column Will tapped into his inner Mr. Blackwell and dissed jeans as “an obnoxious misuse of freedom,” “the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults…and cartoons for adults,” “the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy’s catechism of leveling—thou shalt not dress better than society’s most slovenly,” and “the calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances.” Wow. I sure hope no one tells him about kids going steady. Or electric guitars.

It’s hard to believe that it has just now occurred to Will that casual comfort is destroying our moral fabric. But a glance at his old columns finds that the preppy pundit has been portraying jeans as signifiers of social unraveling for more than 30 years. Examples after the jump.

1976: Will notes that the ponytail-and-sneakers-sporting head of the National Jogging Association “looks as faded as his jeans.” Damn skinny hippie!

1978: “The Presidency should be clothed in majesty, not denim.” But majesty is so itchy.

1986: Pat Robertson “says he likes to drive his Ford Bronco and wear jeans.” Yet: “He dressed as what he stresses he is, a crackerjack businessman, in a dark blue suit with a paisley handkerchief in his breast pocket.”

1988: Will rides along with undercover cops “dressed in denims, fatigues and other forms of street-corner-casual.” You know, so they look like drug dealers.

1988: Will meets a woman busted in a drug sting: “Her jeans are neatly pressed.”

1989: “Walt Whitman High School in a Washington suburb is a sea of faded denim and raging hormones.” But fear not: “Young Democrats were nowhere to be seen.”

1990: Will meets a surgeon with “crumpled cowboy hat, drooping mustache, big belt buckle and faded jeans” doing “his damnedest to seem like a bumpkin.” Not like that nice Pat Robertson.

1991: “James Carville’s jeans and running shoes adorn a body as stringy as beef jerky.” Another damn skinny hippy!

1993: Will meets a sexually active 13-year-old PCP user. Notices her “clean jeans.”

1997: Will laments the members of “the lost generation” who “enter the business world and have no clue how to cope (a hint: not jeans) with that deplorable innovation called ‘casual Fridays.'”

1998: “The sea of denim and hormones called high school.” More like a sea of repeated imagery and grievances called a political column.

1999: Will decries “the elongation of youth by those who loiter on the outskirts of adulthood, dressed in jeans and sneakers like prepubescent children.”

2001: “In airport concourses you see them, men wearing jeans and T-shirts and running shoes, holding the hands of small boys dressed similarly.” Pederasts or parents? You decide!

2002: Lawrence Ferlinghetti “looks the part of an emeritus Beat—small silver earring, tatty sportcoat, blue jeans.” At least Jack Kerouac wore khakis!

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate