PUT YO HOOD UP

I was in London recently for a very warm two weeks of Indian summer type weather in October. Yet, every school kid I saw was wearing a sweatshirt with his hood up… like constantly… 75 degrees and sunny (which, in England, is about as rare as a straight set of pearly whites) and these kids are putting their hoods up like artic explorers.

In England, apparently criminals have just gotten hip to the idea of wearing a sweatshirt to obscure their identity. It’s gotten to the point that the term “hoodie” is a synonym for “young criminal” and there is talk of banning the hooded sweatshirt entirely. Now, this amused me and puzzled me to no end. Firstly, stick up kids in the England JUST discovered hoodies now? Secondly, they are going to BAN hooded sweatshirts? That’s like making pantyhose illegal because bank robbers wear ‘em…

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I was pretty confused about this whole thing until I stepped back and gave it some thought. See, England doesn’t have the wonderful heritage of casual wear that we do in America. Children there still wear fucking sport coats (ok, blazers) to school. The country as a whole has a big tradition of tweed and wool. If it’s a cool fall day, people wear a sport coat or a nice sweater (yes, a “jumper”), not a sweatshirt. That is, until hip hop fashions brought the whole velour sweatpants leisure/sport wear aesthetic world wide. So, in England, hooded sweatshirt = urban fashion. Compare this to America, where every average kid in the whole country as worn the things for the last 30-40 years. I mean, think of Elliot in E.T. , what could be more unthreatening, wholesome, and All American than that?

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To see the whole scope of threatening urban Englishness, check out the video for Roll Deep’s “When I’m Ere”, ere, I mean HERE, where all 7 (8? 9?) members of Roll Deep are rocking the same black Nike sweatshirt (rumor has it they were sponsored). Roll Deep are (were?) the premier crew in grime music (a mutant offspring of UK Garage heavily influenced by US hip hop and Jamaican dancehall) and this track is from their “In at the Deep End” album from 2005. There newest single/video is an antigun song called “Badman”, with a short film for a video that was paid for by the UK government in an effort to combat the rising tide of gun crime there…

My solution? While I was there, I also read the N.M.E. and other rock music magazines and I noticed that Emo music is a new phenomenon there… Been going on 20 years here, brand new there… To the point that there are people writing letters to the editor feverishly debating the whole thing and every interviewee is asked to voice his opinion. Naturally the main imports are doodoo like My Chemical Romance and Jimmy Eat World. But, herein lies the solution: if Emo can catch on big there, the hooded sweatshirts worn by moping nancyboys with funny haircuts here in the states can perhaps be imported as well and people will immediately lose all fear of hooded sweatshirts…

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