Analytical essay about pearl harbor and the sinking of USS Arizona

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timer Asked: Nov 14th, 2016

Question description

Begin by formulating a set of questions to ask about the wider significance of this example of communication. Needs to be more than just descriptive of what the communication example means. It should provide critical insights into, or an argument about, the importance or significance of this example to society or culture more broadly. It should also link this to analytic frameworks from the readings (for example, historical frameworks, frameworks for understanding how discourse functions in relation to institutional structures or interpersonal communication). Some good models from the course readings are Scott Kiesling’s discussion of the word “Dude” when it is used in specific contexts, and Dwight McBride’s discussion of the dress code, and hiring practices of Abercrombie and Fitch.

My topic is a photo of the sinking of USS Arizona.

Some questions: How does the sinking of battleship Arizona effect to US in World War Two, in political aspect, how does the US congress first time all passed the bill of declare war to Japan related to the sinking of Arizona. Why Arizona became the primary target for Japanese navy, what effect Japanese wants to get from sinking the Arizona. Why this picture of Arizona becomes the symbol of Pearl Harbor being attacked on the WW2 and why American only build a memorial on the Remains of Arizona, not other ships or place? And the picture has any influence on the society?

You can pick up some of them to write about. If you have any other better ideas which can relate to course reading, write it out and fix my points.

  • Show how you might relate this communication event to other social, political, economic, cultural, or aesthetic phenomena;
  • Consider what connections you might be able to make between this instance/example of communication and other communication;
  • Draw upon key concepts, theoretical or critical approaches/frameworks that we have been covering in the course to help answer the questions that you framed about the event. (key concept you may use : Levels of Communication Intrapersonal Interpersonal Intragroup • Inter-group • Organizational or institutional Society-wide - Denis McQuail)
  • Describe some of the limits to your interpretation and/or challenges to understanding the issues you take up.


Two-Part Communication Analysis Project You will be developing this project through most of the quarter and it will make up 45% of your grade. It is divided into two parts, due at specified dates during the term. The second part will take the place of a mid-term exam. Overview The purpose of this assignment is to introduce you to scholarly frameworks and methods for examining dimensions of communication. The project is broken down into two sections aimed at developing and honing your ability to engage in detailed observation and description; formulate meaningful questions; and engage analytical frameworks. Through your work on the project, you will demonstrate your grasp of key concepts and terminology that we will be exploring throughout this course. You will begin by selecting a specific example of a form or mode of communication to consider. For the first part, you will be developing an analytic description of your example that breaks it down into elements that make up the meanings conveyed. For the second part, you will frame analytic questions and pursue consideration of how your example fits into wider concerns, tendencies or contexts. Together, both parts of this project serve as an exercise in considering the key questions of this course: • • • • • What is communication? Where does it occur? How does it occur? Why does it matter? How do we study it? You will be graded on effort, creativity, thoughtfulness, and the overall quality of your writing – not whether your arguments are “correct.” It is important that you carefully proofread your work for errors before submitting it. It is strongly suggested that you have someone else read it to give you feedback on the clarity of your writing and ideas. Note on formatting: Use 12 point “Times Roman” or similar font, and set your margins to 1” on all sides. Part 1: Denotative and Connotative meaning (due October 12) Select a concrete example of communication that will serve as your object of investigation. It can be an example of any form of communication, such as a painting, a photograph, a letter, a speech, a piece of music, an advertisement, a phone conversation, a scene from a film or television program, a website etc. Since you will be doing a very detailed analysis, it is important that you select an example that is manageable. For example, if you are considering a film you should select a particular scene or sequence of shots to consider. Your example should also be accessible to your TA. For example, if you are analyzing a film clip, it is best to use one that can be found online, say on YouTube. If you are analyzing an image or song lyrics, attach a copy to your completed paper. A. In essay form (1 to 2 pages double-spaced), provide a general description of your example of communication and situate it in relation to the historical period and sociocultural location in which it takes place. In short: what is it? Where and when does it take place? Who are the participants? Through what mechanism/medium does it occur? B. In a two-column format, provide a close reading of the communication example you have chosen (24 pages single-spaced). • In column one, provide a detailed comprehensive denotative description that breaks your example down into basic meaningful elements. You should provide a detailed literal account that avoids implied meanings or interpretations as much as possible. (Catalog specifically what was said, visual elements and qualities – color, texture, motion, etc.; characteristics of sound or other elements of perception). • In column two, provide connotative readings of the elements described in your denotative description. What meanings and association do the denotative meanings convey or imply. This requires more interpretation but still focuses on the immediate context and commonly available associations of each element. This connotative analysis is also aimed at showing the broadly shared meanings of the events. Therefore, it should not be based on meanings that the item has only for one person. Part 2: Analysis and Synthesis (due November 9) Write an analytical essay (4 to 6 double-spaced pages) that draws on your description of the communication event in part one. Begin by formulating a set of questions to ask about the wider significance of this example of communication. Your paper needs to be more than just descriptive of what the communication example means. It should provide critical insights into, or an argument about, the importance or significance of this example to society or culture more broadly. It should also link this to analytic frameworks from the readings (for example, historical frameworks, frameworks for understanding how discourse functions in relation to institutional structures or interpersonal communication). Some good models from the course readings are Scott Kiesling’s discussion of the word “Dude” when it is used in specific contexts, and Dwight McBride’s discussion of the dress code, and hiring practices of Abercrombie and Fitch. In your paper, you must do the following: • Show how you might relate this communication event to other social, political, economic, cultural, or aesthetic phenomena; • Consider what connections you might be able to make between this instance/example of communication and other communication; • Draw upon key concepts, theoretical or critical approaches/frameworks that we have been covering in the course to help answer the questions that you framed about the event. Be sure to cite the texts that you are drawing on, paraphrasing, and/or quoting directly (engage at least two course texts). Do this by putting the author’s name and the page number in parenthesis. If you cite an author who isn’t in the reader, do the same and also list the text in a bibliography. • Describe some of the limits to your interpretation and/or challenges to understanding the issues you take up.
American Speech DUDE SCOTT F. KIESLING University of Pittsburgh abstract: The patterns of use for the address term dude are outlined, as are its functions and meanings in interaction. Explanations are provided for its rise in use, particularly among young men, in the early 1980s, and for its continued popularity since then. Dude is used mostly by young men to address other young men; however, its use has expanded so that it is now used as a general address term for a group (same or mixed gender), and by and to women. Dude is developing into a discourse marker that need not identify an addressee, and more generally encodes the speaker’s stance to his or her current addressee(s). Dude indexes a stance of cool solidarity, a stance which is especially valuable for young men as they navigate cultural Discourses of young masculinity, which simultaneously demand masculine solidarity, strict heterosexuality, and nonconformity. Older adults, baffled by the new forms of language that regularly appear in youth cultures, frequently characterize young people’s language as “inarticulate,” and then provide examples that illustrate the specific forms of linguistic mayhem performed by “young people nowadays.” For American teenagers, these examples usually include the discourse marker like, e rising final intonation on declaratives, and the address term dude, e which is cited as an example of the inarticulateness of young men in particular. As shown in the comic strip in figure 1, this stereotype views the use off dude as unconstrained—a sign of inexpressiveness in which one word is used for any and all utterances. These kinds of stereotypes, however, are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the functions and meanings of these figure 1 Use of dude in the “Zits” Comic Strip American Speech, Vol. 79, No. 3, Fall 2004 Copyright © 2004 by the American Dialect Society 281 Published by Duke University Press American Speech 282 american speech 79.3 (2004) linguistic forms. As analyses of like and rising intonation have shown (e.g., Guy et al. 1986, McLemore 1991; Andersen 2001; Siegel 2002), these forms are constrained in use and precisely expressive in meaning. Dudee is no exception. This article outlines the patterns of use for dudee and its functions and meanings in interaction and provides some explanations for its rise in use, particularly among young men, in the early 1980s, and for its continued popularity since then. Indeed, the data presented here confirm that dude is an address term that is used mostly by young men to address other young men; however, its use has expanded so that it is now used as a general address term for a group (same or mixed gender) and by and to women. Dude is developing into a discourse marker that need not identify an addressee, and more generally encodes the speaker’s stance to his or her current addressee(s). The term is used mainly in situations in which a speaker takes a stance of solidarity or camaraderie, but crucially in a nonchalant, not-too-enthusiastic manner. Dudee indexes a stance of effortlessness (or laziness, depending on the perspective of the hearer), largely because of its origins in the “surfer” and “druggie” subcultures in which such stances are valued. This indexicality also explains where dude appears in discourse structure and why it tends to be used in a restricted set of speech events. The reason young men use this term is precisely that dudee indexes this stance of cool solidarity. Such a stance is especially valuable for young men as they navigate cultural Discourses of young masculinity,1 which simultaneously demand masculine solidarity, strict heterosexuality, and nonconformity. The discussion that follows illuminates not only the meanings and use of this address term but also the broader linguistic issue of how languagein-interaction creates and displays social relationships and identities, that is, how language is socially meaningful. An understanding of the ways in which dude works thus leads to a better understanding of how everyday language-in-interaction is related to widespread, enduring cultural Discourses (i.e., the relationship between first- and second-order indexical meanings, in Silverstein’s 1996 terms). In this article I focus on gender meanings and on how cultural Discourses of gender are recreated in interaction with the help of dude. The crucial connection between these cultural Discourses and the everyday use of dude is the stance of cool solidarity which dudee indexes. This stance allows men to balance two dominant, but potentially contradictory, cultural Discourses of modern American masculinity: masculine solidarity and heterosexism. Connell (1995) argues that different types of masculinities are hierarchically ordered in Western cultures and that the most desired and honored in a particular culture is its hegemonic masculinity. Along with Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 283 Carrigan et al. (1985), he shows that heterosexuality is one component of hegemonic masculinities in Western cultures, especially in the United States. Kimmel (2001, 282) argues more forcefully that “homophobia, men’s fear of other men, is the animating condition of the dominant definition of masculinity in America, [and] that the reigning definition of masculinity is a defensive effort to prevent being emasculated,” where “emasculated” is equivalent to being perceived as gay by other men. At the same time, there is a cultural Discourse of masculine solidarity—close social bonds between men. In this cultural Discourse, a bond with, and loyalty to, other men is a central measure of masculinity. This Discourse is epitomized in the ideal of loyalty within a military unit, as outlined for American war films by Donald (2001) and illustrated vividly in Swofford’s (2003) Jarhead, a first-person account of the author’s experiences as a U.S. Marine in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Although this ideal of masculine solidarity could be understood to be consonant with the Discourse of heterosexism (i.e., by having a set of loyal close friends, a man need not be afraid that they will think he is gay), on another level masculine solidarity, in emphasizing closeness between men, is opposed to heterosexism, which emphasizes distance between men. Masculine solidarity and heterosexism thus delimit a narrow range of ratified, dominant, and hegemonic relationships between American men, since masculine solidarity implies closeness with other men, while heterosexism entails nonintimacy with other men. Dudee allows men to create a stance within this narrow range, one of closeness with other men (satisfying masculine solidarity) that also maintains a casual stance that keeps some distance (thus satisfying heterosexism). What follows provides evidence for these claims about dudee in the details of its use. Data are drawn from a number of complementary sources. Survey data come from three surveys of two types performed by classes at the University of Pittsburgh. Ethnographic and interaction data are drawn from my observations in 1993 of an American college fraternity.2 I also draw from various media sources and from my own experience as a bona fide “dude-user” in the 1980s. These multiple sources of data come together to present a consistent picture of the uses, meanings, and recent history of the address term. I first investigate the wider use of the term and then excerpt several uses in the fraternity to illustrate its discourse functions and how it is used in interaction. I also discuss the personalities of the men who use dude the most in the fraternity, then describe the most salient phonological characteristics of the term—a fronted /u / //—and possible connections between this feature of dude and the ongoing fronting of this vowel across North America. Finally, I explain the rise and use of dudee by exploring cultural Discourses of masculinity and American identity more generally in the 1980s. Published by Duke University Press American Speech 284 american speech 79.3 (2004) HISTORY AND ORIGINS The recent history of dudee provides insight into its indexicalities as well as its rise in use in the United States. The discussion that follows is based on Hill’s (1994) history of the term until approximately the 1980s. Dudess originally referred to ‘old rags’, and a dudesman, ‘scarecrow’. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, “dude became synonymous with dandy, a term used to designate a sharp dresser in the western territories [of the United States]” (321). There was for a time a female version of the word, but it fell out of use. According to Hill, the use of dudee as an address term developed in the 1930s and 1940s from groups of men, “Urban Mexican-American pachuchos 3 and African-American zoot-suiters r ” (323), known for their clothes consciousness. These groups began to use dudee as an in-group term, and it soon was used as a general form of address among men. Then dudee followed a well-worn linguistic path from stigmatized groups such as urban African Americans and Mexicans to whites through African American music culture (much as cool and groovy g y did). In the 1980s, “young people began to use dudee as an exclamation of delight and/or affection” (325). Hill predicts that dudee may follow fuck and its derivatives as being able to function in any grammatical slot or as a single-word utterance that can mean anything in the right context. The history of the term, however, shows that from the time it began to be used as an address term, it was an in-group term that indicated solidarity. It is this cool solidarity and in-group meaning that has remained with dude until the present, and it is the kind of stance indexed when the men in the fraternity use it. However, I show below that, while it is true that dudee is used as more than simply an address term, it is restricted in where and how it is used grammatically in discourse structure and with what intonation. THE DUD U E CORPUS As an assignment for two introductory undergraduate sociolinguistics classes at the University of Pittsburgh (in 2001 and 2002), students were required to listen for and record the first 20 tokens of dude that they heard throughout a three-day period. They recorded the entire utterance as best as they could remember it, the gender and ethnicity of the speaker and addressee(s), the relationship between speaker and hearer, and the situation. I have compiled the results from both classes into a 519-token Dude Corpus (DC).4 The impression that dude is used by young men (under 30) is confirmed by the survey, but young women also used the term a significant amount, particularly when speaking to other women, as shown in figure 2.5 Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 285 figure 2 Use of dude by Gender of Speaker and Addressee for People under 30 Years of Age 350 Number of Tokens 300 250 200 Gender of Speaker Female Male 150 100 50 0 Female Male Gender of Addressee In addition to the overwhelming predominance of male-male uses of dude in these data,6 it is important to note that the second most common speakeraddressee gender type is female-female, while in mixed-gender interactions there were relatively fewer uses of dude. This correlational result suggests that dudee indexes a solidary stance separate from its probable indexing of masculinity, unless for some reason women are apt to be more masculine (and men, less masculine) when speaking to women.7 More clues to the solidarity component of dude’s indexicality can be found in the actual tokens used by women speakers to women addressees, however. The all-women tokens were not used in simple greetings, but mostly in situations where camaraderie was salient: only 1 of the 82 woman-woman tokens (1.2%) was a simple greeting (He He y dudee or What’s up, dude), as opposed to 7.6% (25/329) of the men’s tokens. The women tended to use dude (1) when they were commiserating about something bad or being in an unfortunate position, (2) when they were in confrontational situations, or (3) when they were issuing a directive to their addressee. In these last two uses by women, dude seems to function to ameliorate the confrontational and/or hierarchical stance of the rest of the utterance. For example, one token of commiserating was said in a whisper during a class: “Dude, this class is soooo boring.” An even clearer example of commiseration (and clearly not masculinity) was recorded after the addressee had been describing a situation in which a man had been trying to “hit on” her. Following the story, the woman who heard the story replied simply, “Dude,” with “a tone of disbelief and disgust.” An instance of a confrontational situation in which dudee is used was recorded after the addressee had Published by Duke University Press American Speech 286 american speech 79.3 (2004) been teasing the speaker, who then said, “Dude, that’s just not cool.” Finally, a token used with a direct order while in a car: “Dude, turn signal!” There were also several instances of constructed dialogue8 with men as addressees in the woman-woman tokens, which inflates the woman-woman tokens. However, these tokens also reveal information about the indexicality of dude, e because all of these constructed dialogue tokens are used to express a stance of distance—or at least nonintimacy—from a man. For example, one token was recorded in the midst of telling a story about talking to a man. In the course of the narrative, the narrator says to the man “I’m like, dude, don’t touch me!” Such tokens are clearly being used to create stances of distance between the speaker and the addressee (“don’t touch me”), and these tokens thus reveal the nonintimate indexicality of the term. Dudee thus carries indexicalities of both solidarity (camaraderie) and distance (nonintimacy) and can be deployed to create both of these kinds of stance, separately or together. This combined stance is what I call cool solidarity. The expansion of the use of dudee to women is thus based on its usefulness in indexing this stance, separate from its associations with masculinity. Dude is clearly used most by young, European American men and thus also likely indexes membership in this identity category. But by closely investigating women’s use of the term, the separation between the first-order stance index (cool solidarity) and the second-order group-identity index (men) becomes evident. These data also suggest, as would be intuitively predicted by anyone living in North American Anglo culture, an indexical connection between the stance of cool solidarity and young Anglo masculinity, thus showing an indirect indexical connection, of the kind outlined by Ochs (1992), between dudee and masculinity. SELF-REPORT STUDY The connection between the category ‘men’ and dudee was further investigated by a project of a language and gender class at the University of Pittsburgh in fall 2002. This class administered a self-report survey to their friends on e babe, e and yinz (the latter being a Pittsburgh dialect term for the terms dude, second person plural). Respondents were asked how often they used the term and then whether they would use the term with particular addressees (boyfriend/girlfriend, close friend, acquaintance, stranger, sibling, parent, boss, and professor) using a Likert scale of 1 to 5. They were also asked why they used the term and what kind of people they typically think use the term. The survey is reproduced in the appendix. Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 287 These self-report data corroborate the findings of the survey above: that dudee is used primarily by men speaking to other men, but not exclusively so. The highest average frequency rating was for man-man interactions (3.34), but men reported using dude with women as well (the average man-woman frequency rating was 3.24). As shown in figure 3, the gender of the survey respondent was more important than the gender of the addressee, since the difference between male and female speakers is greater than the difference between male and female addressees (i.e., the difference between the endpoints of the lines is greater than the difference between the two lines). However, there are again clues that dudee is restricted to nonintimate solidarity stances. Consider figure 4.9 The first noticeable pattern in this figure is that the gender of the addressee makes more of a difference to the men than the women: for women respondents (represented by the squares and diamonds), there is almost no difference between male and female addressees in any category, while for men respondents (the triangles), the gender of the addressee makes a striking difference, especially in the close friend category. In fact, in figure 4 the female lines are almost always within the male lines. These data thus show that dudee is associated with a male friendship for the men and a nonhierarchic relationship for all respondents, indicated by the low values for parent, boss, and professor. In addition, intimacy is not indexed by dude, e especially for the men, as shown by the low ratings in the “heterosexual intimate relationship” (Hetero.) category. More importantly, the difference between the “different-gender, close-friend” and “heterosexual relationship” category is greater for men than for women (a difference of 0.63 for men and 0.55 for women). The disparity is even greater between “same-gender, close-friend” and “hetero- figure 3 Reported Frequency of Use of dude by Gender of Speaker and Addressee Average Rating 3.5 3.3 3.1 2.9 2.7 Gender of Addressee Female Male 2.5 Female Male Gender of Speaker Published by Duke University Press American Speech 288 american speech 79.3 (2004) figure 4 Dudee Reported Use by Gender of Speaker, Addressee, and Relationship (see note 9 for descriptions of the relationship labels) Speaker-Addressee Female-Female Female-Male 4.0 Average Rating 3.5 Male-Male Male-Female 3.0 2.5 2.0 1.5 1.0 Hetero. Close Acquaint. Stranger Sibling Relationship Parent Boss Prof. sexual relationship” (the difference for men is 1.85, while for women it is 0.33). Thus, intimate relationships with women are among the least likely addressee situations in which men will use dude, e while a close female friend is the most likely woman to be addressed with dudee by a man. In simple terms, men report that they use dude with women with whom they are close friends, but not with women with whom they are intimate. This survey, combined with the DC, thus supports the claim that dude indexes a complex and somewhat indeterminate combination of distance, casualness, camaraderie, and equality. The survey also suggests that speakers are aware of the association between dudee use and masculinity: in the open-ended question asking who uses dude, e all responses suggested men, specifically young, drug-using men, often with descriptions such as slacker, r skaterr (one who skateboards), or druggie. This second-order indexicality, or metapragmatic awareness (Silverstein 1996; Morford 1997), is one which connects the term to counter-culture, nonserious masculinity. These indexicalities are clearly represented in films such as Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventuree (1989), Clerks (1994), and Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000), and in other popular representations of the term. In these films, some or all of the young male characters frequently use the term dude. The character Jeff Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, played by Sean Penn, is one of the earliest, perhaps the best known and most prototypical, of these characters. This film is a comedy about a year in a southern Californian high school, with Spicoli as the do-nothing, class-cutting, Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 289 stoned surfer. While he is “clueless” and often falls on hard times, Spicoli is consistently laid back, even in exasperation, and especially in encounters with authority. The male characters who use dudee in the other films mentioned here have similar personalities. Although they manifest it in slightly different ways, all take a laid-back stance to the world, even if the world proves to be quite remarkable, as in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (in which the protagonists travel through time). I was a teenager at the time Fast Times was released. The characters in this film resonated with me and my peers because they represented (and satirized) a distillation of the dominant identity types found in my high school of mostly middle-class European Americans. As such, these characters, especially Spicoli, became media “linguistic icons” in Eckert’s (2000) terminology. Many young men glorified Spicoli, especially his nonchalant blindness to authority and hierarchical division; in the early 1980s we often spoke with Spicoli’s voice. At first these quotes were only in stylized situations where we quoted from the movie, but eventually many of the features of Spicoli’s speech, especially dude, e became commonplace as we endeavored to emulate the stance Spicoli takes toward the world. I will return to this film when discussing the rise of dude, e but here it is evidence of the stances associated with dude as represented in popular media. Dude has also been featured in comic strips, as shown in figure 1, from the comic strip “Zits,” which has as its main characters American teenagers. Dude is implicated in stereotypes of male communication as inexpressive and monosyllabic (see also Sattel 1983), but in this episode of “Zits” the speakers are actually performing an act of solidarity (offering and accepting chewing gum), but with limited enthusiasm. Dude is perfect for such an interaction, and again bolsters the understanding of dude as indexing cool solidarity, especially among men. Figure 5 is a “Doonesbury” comic strip of a dialogue between two male college roommates. One of the roommates, distressed that the other has stopped calling him dude, e interprets this as a symptom of becoming a more serious student overall. Here dude is clearly indexed with not being serious, since not using dudee is seen as evidence of becoming serious. All of these representations suggest that dude’s first-order indexicality is one of cool solidarity, with a related second-order indexicality of men who shun authority and the establishment. Cartoonist Gary Trudeau uses this indexicality to humorous effect in a later strip when one of the characters in figure 5 joins the CIA; the humor is created by the clash inherent in the “slacker” working for the agency that arguably represents the height of establishment power. The indexicalities of dudee thus encompass not just stances but also specific kinds of masculinity, and the two are intimately bound with one another in an indexical web. Published by Duke University Press American Speech 290 american speech 79.3 (2004) figure 5 Dudee in “Doonesbury” Comic Strip DUDE IN INTERACTION To understand how these indexicalities are put to use, this section investigates how dudee is used in contextualized interactions among college-aged men in Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 291 1993 and views some examples of its use in interaction. I first outline where dude appears, and then the various functions it fulfills in interaction. In reviewing the tokens of dude in the tapes from my year’s ethnographic work in an American all-male fraternity (see Kiesling 1997, 1998, 2001a, 2001b) and in the DC, I have found that dudee appears over whelmingly in utterance-initial or utterance-final position. The frequencies with which dude appears in these positions are presented in table 1. It is also used regularly in sequential locations in interaction, such as in greetings, leave-takings, the prefacing of important information, and exclamations. I also identify five specific interactional functions for dude: (1) marking discourse structure, (2) exclamation, (3) confrontational stance mitigation, (4) marking affiliation and connection, and (5) signaling agreement. Almost all of these functions overlap and derive from its indexicalities of cool solidarity and laid-back masculinity, although these indexicalities are employed in different ways depending on the function. These functions also show how dude encapsulates the men’s homosociality, that is, the small zone of “safe” solidarity between camaraderie and intimacy. discourse structure marking. An individual use of dude may indicate a discourse structure, as described below, although the cool solidarity stance is simultaneously indexed when dude is used in this way. When this function marks off a new segment of discourse from a previous segment (as in the example below), it usually has a sharply falling intonation. exclamation. Dudee may be used on its own as an exclamation, to express both positive and negative reactions (commonly with another exclamative, especially whoa). The prosody used for dude in this function varies depending on the exclamation; in most instances it can be extremely elongated and table 1 Frequency of Positions of dude Position Initial Final Medial Greeting Dude as entire utterance Exclamation with whoaa total 309 140 19 36 7 8 519 (59.5%) (27.0%) (3.7%) (6.9%) (1.3%) (1.5%) note: Dude is final in all greetings and exclamations. Published by Duke University Press American Speech 292 american speech 79.3 (2004) falling in pitch, but not as sharply as in the discourse-structure-marking function. confrontational stance attenuator. Dude is often used when the speaker is taking a confrontational or “one-up” stance to the addressee. Through its indexing of solidarity, dudee can attenuate or ameliorate the confrontation, signaling that the competitive or hierarchical component of the utterance is not serious. The DC has many instances of this kind of use, especially in woman-woman situations. In the terms of Brown and Levinson’s (1987) politeness theory, this use is as a positive politeness strategy in situations of negative face threat. These instances are typically found at the end of the phrase and exhibit a low pitch that rises slightly on a slightly elongated syllable (not as elongated as in exclamations, however). affiliation and connection. When dude is used as a true address term (i.e., it identifies the addressee), it is used to indicate a stance of affiliation or connection, but with cool solidarity as well. The pitch in this function is usually higher than in others, often slightly rising. agreement. Dudee is commonly used when a stance of agreement is taken, either sympathizing with something the addressee said, or agreeing with the content of the utterance. As with the affiliation and connection function, when sympathy or agreement is expressed and dudee is used, this sympathetic stance retains a measure of cool. The prosody for this function is very similar to the confrontational dude, e the only difference being that in the agreement function the pitch tends to be higher. These functions are not all mutually exclusive; dudee can perform more than one function in a single utterance, or it can be left ambiguous. Some examples of each of the functions in use show how speakers use this term in particular situations and how its indexicalities work in these situations. The first example, in which dudee is used in its discourse-structure-marking function, is from a narrative told by Pete at the end of a meeting of fraternity members (see Kiesling 2001a). In this excerpt, Pete is telling about a road trip that he and Hotdog had taken during the previous weekend, in which they got lost. (This excerpt is not the entire narrative, which is very long and has numerous points which might be counted as evaluation and/or climax.) 1 2 3 4 Excerpt 1 10 pete: I was like fuck it just take this road we’ll be there. end up, at one o’clock in the morning, in south Philly. Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 293 I don’t know if any y’all been at south Philly, but it ain’t where you wanna be at one o’clock in the morning hotdog: it’s it’s the northeast of Washington D.C. pete: it is it’s the southeast of Philadelphia that’s what it is. I mean it’s southeast dude. we’re driving a 94 Geo Prism (.) with no tags, (1.1) two White boys, and we’re like stuck behind this buat one point, we were stuck in an alley, in an alley like cars parked on both sides, (.) behind a bus, and there’s like two bars like on both sides. like (1.0) all these black people everywhere. WASTED. fucked up. lookin at us. *just like* (1.8) I was scared shitless, I ‘as like Hotdog GO GO. he was like there’s a bus. I don’t care GO GO (0.7) most nerve-racking time of my life- Pete’s use of dudee in line 11 marks off an important segment of the narrative, a part in which he tells about the “danger” he and Hotdog were in. In lines 1–4 he is setting up their arrival in South Philadelphia. In lines 5–10, he describes in general that South Philly is dangerous, with help from Hotdog in line 7, who explains the status of South Philadelphia by relating it to a similar neighborhood in Washington, D.C., with which his audience is familiar. He has some disfluency getting exactly the form he is looking for, and then in line 11 utters dude, e with a complete intonation contour that has a sharply falling intonation and is low in his pitch range. Dude thus serves to break off the string of disfluencies from the following utterances, which Pete “resets” by giving it more volume and beginning with a higher pitch. The utterances following dudee then resume his evocation of danger more specifically, and the climax of this part of the story comes in lines 21–29, in which he describes the “dangerous” people around them, and then an evaluation in line 26 (“I was scared shitless”). In this example, dude is not picking out a single addressee: Pete is addressing the entire meeting. Rather, dudee has two functions related to the Published by Duke University Press American Speech 294 american speech 79.3 (2004) narrative structure and purpose. First, it delays the climax and resets the narrative, calling attention to the climax and evaluation to come. In this sense it is a discourse marker rather than an address term. So why does Pete use dudee here and not something more “discourse-focused” like so or anyway, which are sometimes used to return to the main thread of a conversation or narrative once it has been left? The answer is the second function—that dude also retains its indexicality of cool solidarity and allows Pete to bring the audience into his story as if he were telling it to one person rather than many. Moreover, it invites the hearers to take Pete’s perspective, thus further creating a separation between himself and the dangerous denizens of South Philly. Pete uses dude to build involvement, to use Tannen’s (1989) term. Later in the story, before Hotdog begins to conarrate, Pete again uses d e: dud 40 41 42 43 44 Excerpt 2 pete: dude it was like boys in the hood man ai:n’t no: lie: hotdog: And they’re all they’re fucked up on crack, wasted they’re all lookin’ at us they start comin’ to the car, so Pete’s like FLOOR IT. so I take off (.) and (.) In this instance, Pete uses dudee with an exclamatory function, with a slighly elongated vowel and a level intonation; dude is the most prominent syllable in the phrase, which lowers in pitch and amplitude throughout. But notice that the statement that follows is also a summary and evaluation of the situation he and Hotdog found themselves in, and continues the same involved, affiliative stance he used in the previous excerpt. We can infer this from his concurrent use of Southern vernacular English forms in ain’t no liee and the address term man, which is similar to dudee but less pervasive in this group. An instance in which Pete uses dudee to both attenuate a competitive stance and create connection is shown in the following excerpt from the Monopoly game: 44 45 46 47 48 49 Excerpt 3 pete: Fuckin’ ay man. Gimme the red Dave. Dude. (1.0) dave: No. pete: Dave dude, dude Dave hm hm hm hm dave: I’ll give you the purple one pete: Oh that’s a good trade Pete is of course playing with the alliteration between Dave’s name and dude in line 47 (Dave’s real name also has an initial /d/). But Pete’s use of dudee in Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 295 line 45 is coupled with a bald imperative (“gimme the red”), and dudee is in fact added almost as an afterthought, with a falling intonation on Dave, before dudee (although there is no pause between the two words). Dave responds with his own bald refusal (“no”), which continues the confrontational stance initiated by Pete. The next line serves a purely interactional purpose, as it contains only Dave’s name and dudee repeated once in chiasmus. This “contentless” use of dudee then can be performing only an interactional function (it is not performing a necessary address term function, since Pete also uses Dave’s first name). Pete’s chuckles after his use of the term indicate that he is not taking a truly confrontational stance, so he is probably changing his strategy to get the red property by emphasizing his and Dave’s friendship. Dave follows suit in this “toning down” of the competition; he makes a conciliatory move after Pete’s initial plea by offering Pete another property. In this excerpt, then, we see dudee used in a purely affiliative way and in its mitigating function, especially useful because Pete is in an inherently competitive but friendly activity (the Monopoly game). These uses show how dudee can be strategically placed so that the confrontation and the competition stay on a playful level. In this sense, it is a framing device as well as a stance indicator, indexing a “play” frame for the men (see Bateson 1972; Tannen 1979). In the next example, Pete uses dudee to create a stance of affiliation, but also to project coolness. Pete is in a bar with Dan, an out-of-town friend visiting another fraternity member. In this conversation, Pete agrees with many of the comments Dan enthusiastically makes but plays down his enthusiasm (see Kiesling 2001b). Particularly important here is that Pete is not just agreeing but doing so while keeping a cool, nonchalant stance that contrasts with Dan’s enthusiasm about playing caps (a drinking game). Excerpt 4 dan: I love playin’ caps. That’s what did me in last-| |last week. |that’s-| pete: Everybody plays that damn game, dude. Pete’s use of dude in this excerpt matches the nonchalant stance of Pete’s statement, thus helping to create that stance. The next excerpt indexes a similar cool stance, but this time in a meeting. This example is Speed’s first comment about which candidate should be elected chapter correspondent in an election meeting (see Kiesling 1997). Excerpt 5 speed: Ri:tchie. I like Ritchie ’cause he’s smart and he probably (writes really good) too:. so let him do it dude. Published by Duke University Press American Speech 296 american speech 79.3 (2004) Dudee helps Speed create a “stand-offish” stance in this excerpt, as it is used with the phrase “let him do it.” Speed could have used something more active, such as “elect Ritchie,” or “we need to put Ritchie in this position,” but he frames his comments as a matter of simply stepping aside and letting Ritchie do the job. His relatively short comments are also consistent with this stance. Note also that Speed is speaking not to a single person, but to a roomful of members who are collectively his addressee, as Pete did in (1). Dudee in this instance, then, is used purely to help create this stance of noninter vention, letting things take their course. In the next excerpt, taken from a rush event (a social function held to attract potential members to the fraternity), Saul agrees with a potential member’s (or rushee’s) assessment of the University of Virginia men’s basketball team. Excerpt 6 rushee: Junior Burroughs is tough he’s gonna be (tough to beat) saul: Oh HELL yeah dude This use of dudee is especially interesting because it appears with an intensifier. The main part of Saul’s utterance is his agreement with the rushee, as expressed simply by “yeah.” But he intensifies this agreement with the use of “oh hell” before it with the primary sentence stress on hell. l This indexes a stance not just of agreement but of enthusiastic agreement, in contrast to Pete’s nonchalant agreement with Dan in (4). This difference is characteristic of Saul and Pete’s personal styles: the former more often takes an enthusiastic interpersonal stance while the latter more often takes a cool stance. So it is not surprising that Saul should employ dudee in a less cool, affiliative stance than Pete. Nevertheless, dudee still serves to index both affiliation and distance, “toning down” the enthusiasm. Finally, let us consider an instance of dudee used in an interview. Mack uses it in (7) in an answer to a question I had asked about who gets elected to offices and whether the person who works hard or has the most ability actually gets elected to the office. In his answer, Mack takes me into his confidence about “the way things really work.” 60 61 62 63 64 Excerpt 7 mack: You’ve been getting dude, whatand this is, again what I’m coming down to sk: ?? mack: It really- the guys have been telling you what is supposed to happen they don’t know. Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 297 Mack here takes a stance of the knowledgeable insider, one he takes habitually (see Kiesling 1997, 1998). In lines 63 and 64, he creates a dichotomy between what is supposed to happen and what really happens, which only he and a few others know about. In line 60, he begins this course of argument (“you’ve been getting” refers to the answers I had received from other members about how people are elected to office), and he uses dudee to signal that he is taking me into his confidence, into the inner circle of members. So here dudee has solidarity function. Although dudee is used by almost all the men at some times, some use the term much more frequently than others. Pete uses dudee at least sometimes in many different kinds of speech activities, as does Speed. Hotdog, Mack, and another member, Ram, by contrast, do not use dudee in meetings but do use it in in-group narratives. Mack, as in (7), uses dudee in the interview, but Hotdog and Ram do not. This pattern is strikingly similar to the patterns for the men’s -ing/-in’’ use I have found (Kiesling 1998), suggesting that there is a similarity in the stances indexed and identities per formed by the vernacular variant ([In]) and dude. However, both of these linguistic forms (dudee and [In]) can index many kinds of stance while retaining core abstract indexicality of casual, effortless, or nonconformist (in the case of [In]), and affiliation and “cool” (in the case of dude). They overlap in their indexing of effortlessness and coolness and are thus likely to be used by the same men. In sum, these examples show how the general stances indexed by dude can be used as a resource in interaction. By using dude, e the men are not rigidly encoding a relationship with an addressee or addressees. Rather, they are using the indexicalities of the term to help create an interpersonal stance, along with many other resources that interact with various parts of context (the nature of the speech event, participants’ previous interactions and identities within the institution, etc.). I will acknowledge the vagueness with which I have been describing the stance indexed by dudee and at the same time argue that this indeterminacy is characteristic of the over whelming majority of social indexes (see also Silverstein 1996, 269). Without context there is no single meaning that dude encodes, and it can be used, it seems, in almost any kind of situation (as shown by the “Zits” comic). But we should not confuse flexibility with meaninglessness; rather, the complex of stances indexed by the term—distance, camaraderie, cool, casualness, solidarity—can be made salient through different contexts. Dude, e then, shows us two important ways indexicality, and meaning more generally, work in language. First, the meaning that speakers make when using language in interaction is about stance-taking at least as much as it is about denotation. Nor is this social meaning-making most often focused on signaling group affiliation or “acts of identity” (Le Page and Tabouret-Keller 1985). Rather, it is about specific Published by Duke University Press American Speech 298 american speech 79.3 (2004) relationships speakers create with each other in interaction. Second, meaning is made in contextualized interactions; words and sounds are indeterminate resources that speakers combine to perform and negotiate stances, and it is these stances which are the primary focus of interaction. HOW TO SA Y DUD U DE If context is important to interpretation, then the linguistic and sociohistorical moment in which an utterance takes place is significant. Using dudee in 2003 is different from using it in 1983, and certainly different from in 1963. This historical view also relates to the manner in which dude is pronounced. The importance of, and differences in, prosody has been discussed above; here I refer to the vowel quality of /u / / in dude. As shown by Labov (2001, 475–97), /u / / is being fronted across North America, especially after coronal onsets. Dudee is thus a strongly favored environment for this fronting to take place. In fact, dudee is almost always spoken with a fronted / / by the young speakers who use it, especially when it is used in a stylized /u manner (that is, when someone is performing while using the term, in the sense that they are marking it as not an authentic use of their own). I suggest that when older speakers pronounce dudee with a backed /u / /, younger speakers identify the token as unauthentic, uncool, or simply “old.” There is thus a close connection between the fronted /u / / and dude. Phonology and lexis work together in this case to further make dude, e in its most general sense, indexical of American youth. I would not go so far as to suggest that dudee is driving this sound change, although Labov does argue that outliers (which are likely to be found in dude given its stylized uses) are important in the continuation of a sound change. While dudee is not causing nor necessarily driving the sound change, it is certainly emblematic of it and is one of the ways that the sound change has been imbued with social meanings. DISCUSSION The casual and cool stance that is the main indexicality of dudee is an important feature of men’s homosociality in North America. While masculine solidarity is a central cultural Discourse of masculinity in North America, this solidarity is nevertheless ideally performed without much effort or dependence. Dude helps men maintain this balance between homosociality and hierarchy. It is not surprising, then, that dudee has spread so widely among American men because it encodes a central stance of masculinity. If dude use by men is related to the dominant cultural Discourses of masculinity, then why did this Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 299 term expand significantly in middle-class, European American youth in the early 1980s? What are the cultural currents that made the particular kind of masculinity and stance indexed by dude desirable for young men (i.e., for the post-baby-boom generation)? Youth in general often engage in practices that are meant to express rebellion or at least differentiate them in some way from older generations (Brake 1985). In language, this nonconformity can be seen in the “adolescent peak”—the rise in nonstandard language use by teenagers (see Labov 2001, 101–20), a peak which flattens out as teenagers become older. The rise of dude likely took place because cool solidarity became a valuable nonconformist stance for youth in the 1980s. While I can find no studies analyzing dominant cultural Discourses of masculinity in the 1980s, I would characterize this time—the Reagan years particularly—as one in which “yuppie consumerism” and wealth accumulation were hegemonic. Edley and Wetherell (1995, 141), moreover, comment that it could be argued that the 1980s were characterized by the reinstatement of a new form of puritanist philosophy, once again emphasizing hard work and traditional family values (Levitas 1986). Typified in the character played by Michael Douglas in the film Wall Street, t the stereotypical or ideal 1980’s man was portrayed as a hard, aggressive person single-mindedly driven by the desire for power and status. In perhaps the most well-known scenes in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), a conflict is set up between Spicoli and his history teacher, Mr. Hand. In the first scene Spicoli is late on the first day of class, and in the second he has a pizza delivered to class. Mr. Hand is represented as a demanding, uptight teacher who takes stances that could hardly be further from those Spicoli adopts. Mr. Hand, of course, becomes outraged that Spicoli does not even seem to realize his behavior is unacceptable. From the eyes of a 1980s teenager, the conflict between Spicoli and Mr. Hand is an allegory for competing norms of masculinity and shows how the stances associated with dude are set up in conflict with stances of hard work and other “adult” values.11 The “slackers” in the film Clerkss (1994) are also the opposite of Edley and Wetherell’s “hard, aggressive person single-mindedly driven by the desire for power and status,” but in Clerks, the fun-loving of Spicoli has been replaced by nihilism: more “why bother?” than “who cares?” All of these portrayals, which can be connected to the use of dude, e are part of a general American cultural Discourse which represents the post-baby-boom generation as having little or no career ambition—a whole generation of slackers. There is also a component of the surfer subculture associated with dude that valorizes not just skill and success, but the appearance of effortless, yet authentic, achievement. This kind of success is also quite different from the 1980s image of Published by Duke University Press American Speech 300 american speech 79.3 (2004) success based on hard work. So in many ways the stances indexed by dude were (and still are) nonconformist and attractive to adolescents. This view of the motivations for the rise of dude in American English shows that sociolinguistic norms are much more complex than, for example, associating a sound with prestige. The kinds of meanings indexed by language can be numerous, even if connected by a common thread, and change with each use. More importantly, dudee shows that it is not just the indexicalities of a form that might change, but that the values and aspirations of the speakers might change as well. What was cool in 1982 is not necessarily cool in 2002 but may become cool again in 2005. In other words, the very definition of prestige changes over time. The casual stance indexed by dude is becoming more “prestigious” throughout the United States, so perhaps it will eventually be used by all ages and in most situations in America. For the time being, it is clear that dude is a term that indexes a stance of cool solidarity for everyone and that it also has second orders of indexicality relating it to young people, young men, and young counterculture men. It became popular because young men found in dude a way to express dissatisfaction with the careerism of the 1980s, and it has later been a way of expressing the nihilism of the 1990s. Perhaps we are becoming a nation of skaters and surfers, at least in certain cultural trappings, who only wish for, in Spicoli’s words, “tasty waves and cool buds,” and dude is the harbinger of things to come. APPENDIX Dude Survey (This form modified from the original: yinz has been removed.) LANGUAGE SURVEY Please help me with a survey for a linguistics class. The answers should take you only a few minutes. If you are interested in the topic, I can explain what we are studying after you have taken the survey. Your answers are anonymous and confidential. No one will know who gave your answers, and the paper will be destroyed at the end of the course. This survey asks you to answer questions about [two] words in English. These words are all terms of address. That is, they are used to greet someone or get their attention to talk to them in a sentence like this: “Hey, sir, you dropped something!” The terms are Dude and Babe. Dude 1. How often do you use this term as an address term (circle one)? Many times each day About once a day Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 301 About once a week Hardly ever Never 2. What kind of person are you likely to use it to address? 1 = Not likely at all, will never use it with someone like this 5 = Very likely, use it all the time with people like this The person is yourr Girl/boyfriend Close friend Acquaintance Stranger Sibling Parent Boss Professor | | | | | | | | | The person is also a man n 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a | | | | | | | | | The person is also a woman 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 3. Why do you use the term? That is, what do you think it says about you to the person you are talking to? 4. What kind of person do you think uses it frequently? Babe 1. How often do you use this term as an address term (circle one)? Many times each day About once a day About once a week Hardly ever Never 2. What kind of person are you likely to use it to address? 1 = Not likely at all, will never use it with someone like this 5 = Very likely, use it all the time with people like this The person is yourr Girl/boyfriend Close friend Acquaintance Stranger Sibling Parent Boss Professor | | | | | | | | | The person is also a man n 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a | | | | | | | | | The person is also a woman 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 1 2 3 4 5 n/ n/a 3. Why do you use the term? That is, what do you think it says about you to the person you are talking to? 4. What kind of person do you think uses it frequently? Now please answer a few questions about yourself: 1. What is your age? Published by Duke University Press American Speech 302 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. american speech 79.3 (2004) What is your ethnicity? What is your gender? In what city did (do) you go to high school? What is your occupation? If you are a college student, what is your major (or school, if undecided): NOTES 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. I use the term cultural Discoursee in the sense of poststructuralists, following Foucault (1980). Cultural Discourses are similar to ideologies, yet leave open the possibility of contradiction, challenge, and change, and describe more than idea systems, including social practices and structures. For a review of the term and its relevance to masculinities, see Whitehead (2002). I will always use a capital D withcultural Discoursess to distinguish them from the linguistic notion of discourse, which is talk-in-interaction. Fraternities are social clubs, with membership typically limited to men, on college campuses across North America. Pachuchos, also spelled pachucos, refers to members of groups, or gangs, of young Mexicans and Mexican Americans known for their flamboyant dress, especially the zoot suit. The origin of the term is not completely clear, but it is likely derived from a native American word (Kiowa or Kiliwa). See Cummings (2003) and Sharp (2004). The corpus results, class assignment, and an electronic versions of the survey instrument are available at http://www.pitt.edu/~kiesling/dude/dude.html. I encourage instructors of linguistics courses to use the survey in their own courses, but please inform me that you have used it and, if possible, the results. Of the 519 tokens collected, 471 (91%) were in situations with speakers and addressees under 30 years of age. This result may reflect the age population of the class, of course, but it is a relatively valid representation of dudee use for that age group. In terms of class, most students were middle class or upper working class. Statistics were gathered for ethnicity, with European Americans providing the vast proportion of tokens, but again these results are probably skewed by the predominance of European Americans in the class. These tokens could, of course, be influenced by who collected them. Both classes had more women than men, however, so if the results are skewed because of the sex of the observer, it is women’s use of the term that has been artificially expanded. It has been pointed out to me that there was also a time when dudette was used, but that this term was unsuccessful. I do not remember hearing many instances of dudettee used as an address term except with dudee (“Hi, dudes and dudettes!”). I do remember it being used to refer to “female dudes.” In any case, it was not a successful term, perhaps because of its inequality with the male form as a diminutive derivative. Published by Duke University Press American Speech Dude 303 8. Constructed dialogue is more commonly calledreported speech, which is essentially quoted speech; that is, it would be written in quotation marks in a novel. For example, “I’m like, dude, don’t touch me,” dude, don’t touch mee is reported speech. Tannen (1989) shows that such representations of other people’s speech are often not what was actually said. Rather, the speech is constructed by the person doing the “quoting” to promote involvement in talk. The speaker in this example likely did not say exactly what she “quoted.” Her use of a direct quote, however, makes her story much more vivid for the audience. 9. Some of the relationship labels need explanation. The first is “Hetero.” This category is “heterosexual intimate relationships,” labeled on the survey as girlfriend/boyfriend. There were responses for male-male and female-female categories, but it is clear from the students who gathered the data that not all respondents understood the intimate nature of this category for same-sex situations. That is, not all male respondents who gave a rating for “boyfriend” are homosexual. This confusion makes the response problematic, and so I have removed the same-sex boyfriend/girlfriend data from this table, thus making it represent heterosexual relationships only. “Close” refers to a close friend, and “Aquaint.” is an acquaintance. The rest of the labels should be self-explanatory. 10. Transcription conventions are as follows: Each line is roughly a breath group, and unless otherwise noted there is a short pause for breath at the end of each line in the transcripts. (text) indicates the accuracy of transcription inside parentheses is uncertain (?) indicates an utterance that could be heard but was not intelligible a: indicates the segment is lengthened (#.#) indicates a pause of #.# seconds (.) indicates a pause of less than 0.5 seconds = indicates that the utterance continues on the next line without a pause A| B | indicates overlapping speech: B and C are uttered simultane|C|D ously, not A nor D. TEXT indicates emphasis through amplitude, length, and/or intonation *text* indicates noticeably lower amplitude buindicates an abrupt cutoff of speech ((text)) indicates comments added by the author 11. See http://www.netwalk.com/~truegger/ftrh/ for plot summaries and audio clips of the film, including a “film strip” of the famous scenes (http://www.netwalk. com/~truegger/ftrh/pizza.html). Published by Duke University Press American Speech 304 american speech 79.3 (2004) REFERENCES Andersen, Gisle. 2001. 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Sattel, Jack. 1983. “Men, Inexpressiveness, and Power.” In Language, Gender and Society, ed. Barrie Thorne, Cheris Kramarae, and Nancy Henley, 119–24. Rowley, Mass.: Newbury. Sharp, Charles. 2004. “Pachucos.” Zoot Suit Riot Web page. http://www.ethnomusic .ucla.edu/estudent/csharp/pachucos.html (accessed July). Siegel, Muffy E. A. 2002. “Lik “ e: The Discourse Particle and Semantics.” Journal of Semanticss 19: 35–71. Silverstein, Michael. 1996. “Indexical Order and the Dialectics of Sociolinguistic Life.” In Salsa III: Proceedings of the Third Annual Symposium about Language and Society—Austin, ed. Risako Ide, Rebecca Parker, and Yukako Sunaoshi, 266–95. Austin: Dept. of Linguistics, Univ. of Texas. Swofford, Anthony. 2003. Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles. New York: Scribner. Tannen, Deborah. 1979. “What’s in a Frame? Surface Evidence for Underlying Expectations.” In New Directions in Discourse Processing, g ed. Roy Freedle, 137–81. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex. ———. 1989. Talking Voices: Repetition, Dialogue, and Imagery in Conversational Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. Whitehead, Stephen M. 2002. Men and Masculinities: Key Themes and New Directions. Cambridge: Polity. Published by Duke University Press
Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. 2 Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch The astronomical growth in the wealth and cultural influence of multinational corporations over the last fifteen years can arguably be traced back to a single, seemingly innocuous idea developed by management theorists in the mid-1980s: that successful corporations must primarily produce brands, as opposed to products. —Naomi Klein, No Logo The company’s [Abercrombie & Fitch’s] success depends on the teenager’s basic psychological yearning to belong. (Remember, the Columbine shootings happened at a school some reportedly called “Abercrombie High.”) And that means more than just selling the right kinds of clothes. —Lauren Goldstein, “The Alpha Teenager” Although [Bruce] Weber has drawn upon a style and even content pioneered by [George] Quaintance, he has not fulfilled the promise of the earlier artist. Weber has little compunction about appropriating a style of clearly gay male sensibility, marketing it, but making small but significant changes that deny and repress its historical conditions and antecedents. This is not all that surprising, for Bear Pond is little more than Bruce Weber advertising, a new form of reactionary art. If the earlier Weber photos were used (explicitly) to sell Mr. Klein’s briefs these later photos are peddling a new—post Ronald Reagan, Ed Meese, and Bowers v. Hardwick—version of (gay) male eroticism. . . . Unable to deny the existence of (gay) male sexuality Weber has de-sexualized it and reduced it to obscured indicators and marketed it as free sexual expression. —Michael Bronski, “Blatant Male Pulchritude: The Art of George Quaintance and Bruce Weber’s Bear Pond” 59 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH My interest—a polite way of labeling it perhaps—in Abercrombie & Fitch began quite a few years back. It was a rather ordinary weekend night much like countless others where friends and I were out having drinks at a bar (which bar is not important to the story, as will soon become apparent). For the first time, I noticed that easily one-third of the men in the bar were wearing some item of clothing or another that sported the label of “Abercrombie & Fitch,” “A&F,” or just plain “Abercrombie.” I asked one of my friends, “What is Abercrombie & Fitch?” And it was with that—at the time—rather innocent question that my intellectual and political sojourn with Abercrombie began. Once I saw it, I literally could not stop seeing it in any number of the gay spaces that I frequented. Whether I was at home in Chicago or traveling in New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, or Atlanta, in any mainstream gay venue there was sure to be a hefty showing of Abercrombie wear among the men frequenting these establishments. Even at the time of this writing (in the summer of 2003), the trend has only lessened slightly among white men in the U.S. urban gay male scene. Since this label has managed to capture the imagination (to say nothing of the wallets) of young, middle-toupper-middle-class, white gay men (well at least mostly young—there are some men who are far beyond anything resembling Abercrombie’s purported target age demographic of eighteen through twenty-two wearing this stuff; and occasionally one does see gay men of color sporting the brand, though not many), I recognized this trend as a phenomenon about which it might be worth finding out more. What is it about Abercrombie—especially with its particular practice of explicitly branding its products—that seems to have a lock on this particular population? What is it about the “brand” that they identify with so strongly? What kind of statement are the men sporting this brand in this sexually charged, gay marketplace of desire making to their would-be observers or potential . . . interlocutors? And why is it that the men of color in these same spaces have not taken to this brand with equal fervor? What about the men 60 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH of color who have? The central question, put somewhat more broadly, might be: what is it that Abercrombie is selling that gay white men seem so desperate to buy in legion? Let me be extremely clear from the outset that my quarrel with Abercrombie is not of the Corrine Wood variety (she is a former lieutenant governor of Illinois), whose conservative diatribe against the “indecency” of the company’s advertising could once be found at her state-sanctioned Web site. Nor is my beef with the company and its marketing strategy to be confused with that of the American Decency Association (ADA). Indeed, I hope never in my life to be associated with anything taking a principled stance on “decency.” Quite a lot of that already seems to be going on in the United States these days without much help from the likes of me. If anything, ours is a country that could stand to loosen its puritanical belt a bit and adopt more of a live-and-let-live policy when it comes to human pleasures. Dare I say that we need more of a public discussion about pleasure, a better way of talking without shame in the United States about it—where we seek it out, how it is a great common denominator, how we all (conservatives and liberals alike) want and need it? Such an open dialogue about pleasure might carry us far toward understanding some of the realities of our society, which are currently labeled “vices” and therefore banished from the realm of any “rational” discussion by “decent” people. Upon closer inspection, perhaps some of these so-called vices might be better understood as extensions of our humanity rather than deviations from some idealized form of it. Such a radical approach to conceiving of our humanity, our existence as sexual beings, might go far toward altering the circumstances of those recently much-discussed brothers on the “down low,” for example, who have been newly “discovered” in the pages of the New York Times Magazine and elsewhere. For I remain convinced that the primary solution to the conditions that lead people to participate in unsafe sexual practices, young gay teens to commit suicide, and cultures of violence to produce and even sanction gay bashings and the like, resides in a loosening of the stranglehold that a puritanical, uncompassionate, intolerant morality (too often masking itself as Christian) has on the 61 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH neck of our society. So let me set aside the concerns of readers who might lump this critique with those who have cast their lot with the decency police against Abercrombie. My concerns here, I am afraid, go far beyond anything quite so facile or pedestrian. I begin first with a brief history of the company and the label of Abercrombie & Fitch itself. Second, I want to spend some time discussing the “A&F look,” especially as it is exemplified in the A&F Quarterly—the sexy quarterly catalog/magazine that has been the source of much controversy among the decency police, the source of great interest among its young target audience and gay men, and the source of capital for serious collectors of the volumes, which sell in some cases for as much as seventy-five dollars on eBay. This last fact my research assistant and I discovered when we began to collect them for the purposes of this book. Third, I consider some aspects of the corporate culture of Abercrombie as it is represented by its stores, managers, and brand reps (as the clerks are called in Abercrombie-speak). This might help provide some insight into the current class action lawsuit that Abercrombie is facing (at the time of this writing) on discrimination charges in their hiring practices. And, finally, I hope to refer back to these points in my analysis of how “Abercrombie” functions as an idea, in order to justify the title claim of this essay in putting forth why it is I hate Abercrombie & Fitch. The label “Abercrombie & Fitch” dates back to 1892, when David T. Abercrombie opened David T. Abercrombie & Co., a small shop and factory in downtown Manhattan. Abercrombie, born in Baltimore, was himself an engineer, prospector, and committed outdoorsman. His love for the great outdoors was his inspiration for founding Abercrombie & Co., dedicated to producing high-end gear for hunters, fishermen, campers, and explorers. Among his early clientele and devotees was Ezra Fitch, a lawyer who sought adventure hiking in the Adirondacks and fishing in the Catskills. He came to depend upon Abercrombie’s goods to outfit him for his excursions. In 1900 Fitch approached Abercrombie about entering into a business partnership 62 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH with him. By 1904 the shop had relocated to 314 Broadway and was incorporated under the name “Abercrombie & Fitch.” The partnership was uneasy almost from its inception. Both men were headstrong and embraced very different ideas about the company’s future. Abercrombie was content to continue to do what they were already doing well — outfitting professional outdoorsmen. Fitch, on the other hand, wanted to expand the business so that they could sell the idea of the outdoors and its delights to the general public. In retrospect, this might have been one of the very earliest cases of big business ideology winning out over small. The result of these feuds was that Abercrombie resigned from the company in 1907. After his resignation, the company did follow Fitch’s vision for its future and expanded into one of the largest purveyors of outdoor gear in the country. Abercrombie & Fitch was no ordinary retail store either. Fitch brought an IKEA-like innovation to the selling and displaying of his goods: stock was displayed as if in use; tents were set up and equipped as if they were in the great outdoors; and the sales staff was made up not of professional salesmen, but of outdoorsmen as well. By 1913 Abercrombie & Fitch had expanded its inventory once again to include sport clothing. The company maintains that it was the first store in New York to supply such clothing to both women and men. In 1917 Abercrombie & Fitch changed locations once again, this time to a twelve-story building at Madison Avenue and Forty-fifth Street. By this point it had become the largest sporting goods store in the world. At this location, Fitch took the display tactics for which the company was by this time famous to an entirely new level, constructing a log cabin on the roof (which he used as a townhouse), an armored rifle range in the basement, and a golf school in the building. By this time the merchandise the store carried had expanded once again to include such exotic items as hot air balloons, portable trampolines, and yachting pennants, to name but a sampling. Abercrombie’s reputation was so well established by this point that it was known as the outfitter of the rich, famous, and powerful. Abercrombie 63 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH outfitted Teddy Roosevelt’s trips to Africa and the Amazon as well as Robert Peary’s famous trip to the North Pole. James Brady recently reminded us in Advertising Age that Hem and Wolfie (i.e., Ernest Hemingway and Winston Frederick Churchill Guest) also shopped there. In an article bearing the title “Abercrombie & Fitch Forgets Its Days of Hem and Wolfie,” Brady recounts the “real man” glory days of Abercrombie & Fitch while bemoaning the A&F of our day, when the company takes out a double-truck ad in Rolling Stone featuring half-naked, boxer-wearing white boys on roller skates sporting backwards baseball caps. The masculine anxiety of that writer’s article notwithstanding, he does refer us back to a relevant source in Lillian Ross’s 1950 New Yorker profile of Hemingway, where one of Hem’s shopping trips to Abercrombie is recounted. Other famous early A&F clientele included such notables as Amelia Earhart, Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, Katherine Hepburn, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Cole Porter. And apparently during prohibition, A&F was also a place to buy hip flasks. It is evident that even in its earliest incarnation, Abercrombie was closely allied with white men (and to a lesser extent white women) of means, the life of the leisure classes, and a Norman Rockwell–like image of life in the United States, for which they were famous even then. It is not surprising that the clothier we know today developed from a company with early roots in exploration, adventure, and cultural tourism, which catered to the white upper classes. The advertising from any of its early catalogs even adopts an innocent, idealistic Rockwellian aesthetic in many instances. It was not long after Abercrombie’s resignation in 1907 that the company published its first catalog, which was more than 450 pages long. Some 50,000 copies were shipped to prospective customers around the world. So A&F’s legacy of an unabashed consumer celebration of whiteness, and of an elite class of whiteness at that, in the face of a nation whose past and present are riddled with racist ideas, politics, and ideology, is not entirely new. Still, I believe the particular form it has taken in our time bears our careful consideration for the harm that it does to our ways of thinking about and imagining our current racial realities 64 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH in this country, as well as for the seemingly elusive difficulty it poses in our attempts to understand what about it makes many of us so uneasy. In 1928 Fitch retired from the business. The company continued to grow and expand well into the 1960s, opening stores in the Midwest and on the West Coast. In the late 1960s, however, the store fell on economic hard times—likely due to the rapid changes in American values associated with that era—and filed for bankruptcy in 1977. The company was bought by Houston, Texas–based Oshman’s Sporting Goods. The business continued to decline until Abercrombie was acquired by the Limited, Inc., in 1988. The Limited tried to position the brand as a men’s clothing line and later added a preppy women’s line under the label as well. These efforts, too, failed, until the Abercrombie makeover began to take shape in earnest under the hand of Michael Jeffries, the current CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, in 1992. Jeffries was no stranger to the retail world before his arrival at Abercrombie. He had done a stint at then-bankrupt retailer Paul Harris, Inc., had a hand at running his own chain (Alcott & Andrews), and a long run at Federated Department Stores, Inc. After assuming his post with Abercrombie, Jeffries hired his own team of fashion designers. He tapped superstar fashion photographer Bruce Weber (widely known for his Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Karl Lagerfeld ads) for the playful coed shots on the walls of Abercrombie stores. Weber would go on, of course, to become the photographer for the infamous A&F Quarterly as well. The A&F Quarterly was launched in 1997 to, as one commentator puts it, “glamorize the hedonistic collegiate lifestyle on which the company built its irreverent brand image.” Even the words of the commentator here are extraordinary for how “collegiate” and “irreverent” are conflated in the image of Abercrombie. Indeed, it is testimony to part of A&F’s genius that it successfully produced a false radicalism by hitching its label to a “collegiate” lifestyle that is inevitably and overwhelming white and upper middle class. Whatever the case, what we do know is that Abercrombie has been a financial success since 1994, only two years after Jeffries took over and reorganized the brand with his own variety of lifestyle marketing, to which they remain thoroughly committed. In 1998, the year following the 65 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH launching of the A&F Quarterly, Abercrombie spun off from the Limited to become once again an independent, publicly traded company. Abercrombie & Fitch has devised a very clear marketing and advertising strategy that celebrates whiteness—a particularly privileged and leisure-class whiteness—and makes use of it as a “lifestyle” that it commodifies to sell otherwise extremely dull, uninspiring, and ordinary clothing. I am not, by the way, the first commentator to recognize this fact about the clothes themselves. The danger of such a marketing scheme is that it depends upon the racist thinking of its consumer population in order to thrive. Anyone familiar with the rise of the company and its label in recent years recognizes that it has done precisely that. Abercrombie has worked hard to produce a brand strongly associated with a young, white, upper-class, leisure lifestyle. Nowhere is this more evident than in the A&F Quarterly. Since, however, I could not bring myself to ask for, only to be denied, permission to use photographs from those pages in this book, or to participate in a vicious cycle of perpetuating the lure of those images by repeating them here, I leave it to my reader to seek them out, as they relate to this analysis. They are readily available online and in any number of media venues. Instead, I would like to consider in some detail a document where the A&F look gets perhaps it clearest articulation: the Abercrombie Look Book: Guidelines for Brand Representatives of Abercrombie & Fitch (revised August 1996). Affectionately known in the everyday corporate parlance of Abercrombie as the Look Book, this pocket-size (3.5 x 5.5–inch and approximately 30-pagelong) book devotes equal time to images and text. The book contains twelve images—all photographs of model brand representatives, save one sketch (which we will come to later). Four of the eleven photos (including the cover) are group shots; the remaining ones feature individual models. Of the group shots, two include the one African American model (or even visible person of color) in these pages, while all of the rest of the photos are of male and female models who appear to be white. All of the models also appear to be 66 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH solidly within Abercrombie’s stated target age group of eighteen through twenty-two, and they all appear in the photographs smiling and often in various states of repose. The book divides neatly into five sections: an introductory section, which addresses the relationship between the brand representative and the A&F look; a section entitled “Our Past,” which gives a brief history of the company; a section called “Our Present”; followed by an “Our Future” section; and then finally the longest section (making up more than half the book) on “The A&F Look” (with subsections titled “Discipline,” “Personal Appearance,” and “Exceptions”). I provide such detail so that the reader will have an image of this book as an object, as well as a sense of its formal content. The Look Book begins thus: Exhibiting the “A&F Look” is a tremendously important part of the overall experience at the Abercrombie & Fitch Stores. We are selling an experience for our customer; an energized store environment creates an atmosphere that people want to experience again and again. The combination of our Brand Representatives’ style and our Stores Visual Presentation has brought brand recognition across the country. Our people in the store are an inspiration to the customer. The customer sees the natural Abercrombie style and wants to be like the Brand Representative . . . Our Brand is natural, classic and current, with an emphasis on style. This is what a Brand Representative must be; this is what a Brand Representative must represent in order to fulfill the conditions of employment. [Emphases appear as they do in the Look Book.] The book continues in much the same vein, touting the virtues of the ideal brand representative. In the approximately seventeen pages of text in the book, the word “natural,” for example, appears as a descriptor no fewer than fourteen times. In this regard, it is closely followed by its companion terms “American” and “classic” to account for what the book identifies alternately 67 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH as the “A&F look” and the “A&F style.” Such words in the context not only of Abercrombie, but in the context of U.S. culture more broadly, are often understood for the coded ways of delineating the whiteness that they represent. Indeed, most of us carry in our imagination a very specific image that we readily access when such monikers as “natural, classic, American” are used. That image is not likely of the Native American, who has far more historic claim to such signifiers than those whom we have learned to associate with them. This fact, I think, speaks volumes about the incredible and abiding ideological feat that we encounter in the whiteness of the idea of “America” and of “the American.” Indeed, citizenship in the United States touches upon matters of social identity, including race and gender. While the dominant rhetoric of our national identity presents a color-blind, “united-we-stand,” Horatio Alger narrative of upward mobility, in reality, citizenship is raced, gendered, and classed, and the original texts that define citizenship and national identity in the United States reflect this reality. UC Berkeley ethnic studies professor Evelyn Nakano Glenn touches upon one aspect of American ideological citizenship when she discusses the importance of whiteness and autonomy in contrast with non-whiteness, subservience, and dependence: Since the earliest days of the nation, the idea of whiteness has been closely tied to notions of independence and self-control necessary for republican government. This conception of whiteness developed in concert with the conquest and colonization of non-Western societies by Europeans. Imagining non-European “others” as dependent and lacking the capacity for self-governance helped rationalize the takeover of their lands, resources and labor (Glenn 18). Glenn goes on to emphasize early in her essay that it is not just whiteness but masculine whiteness that “was being constructed in the discourse on citizenship.” Colonization is a key aspect of this ideology of masculine whiteness, according to Glenn: 68 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH Imagining non-European “others” as dependent and lacking the capacity for self-governance helped rationalize the takeover of their lands, resources and labor. In North America, the extermination and forced removal of Indians and the enslavement of blacks by European settlers therefore seemed justified. This formulation was transferred to other racialized groups, such as the Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos, who were brought to the U.S. in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as low wage laborers. Often working under coercive conditions of indenture or contract labor, they were treated as “unfree labor” and denied the right to become naturalized citizens (18). A commitment to masculine whiteness, with its emphasis on territoriality, exploitation of resources, and the perception of other non-whites as dependent and lacking in political and mental capacity, is part of the master narrative that formed an important foundation for our ideas of American citizenship. Indeed, we have come to a point in our history where any real variation on what we might mean when we say “American” or “America” is scarcely thinkable. The ideological work of equating American with whites and America with whiteness has been thoroughly achieved. Viewed in this way, Abercrombie’s early beginnings as an outfitter of upper-class explorers, adventurers, and outdoorsmen may perhaps be more relevant to our understanding and appreciation of the label’s appeal than we first imagined. The Look Book is noteworthy for some of the contradictions it raises as well. For example, the A&F dress code delineates its commitment to whiteness even in terms of what it deems acceptable in the way of appearance. The investment here in whiteness is also an investment in class. Recall the earlier mention in the introduction to this book of the whiteness of capital. Consider the following guidelines: • For men and women, a neatly combed, attractive, natural, classic hairstyle is acceptable. 69 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH • Any type of “fade” cut (more scalp is visible than hair) for men is unacceptable. • Shaving of the head or any portion of the head or eyebrow for men or women is unacceptable. • Dreadlocks are unacceptable for men and women. It is also in this section of the Look Book that we are presented with the only sketch that appears in the book. It is a combination sketch of seven heads and faces, which carries the caption “Some Acceptable Hairstyles.” Included in these drawings is an African American man with a neatly cut natural (a very short afro cut). There is also among these faces a man who appears much older than the A&F target age group. In fact, this is the only place in the book where an older person is ever pictured. Indeed, it would also be unusual to find older adults working as brand representatives in their stores or being featured as models in the A&F Quarterly. What is interesting to note about the acceptable hairstyles is what is out and what is in. In the mid-90s, when this edition of the Look Book was published, the fade was a popular hairstyle for African American men. I confess, somewhat reluctantly, that I had one myself. Also, since shaved heads are excluded, this also would put a mounting segment (at the time) of African American men out of the running along with the odd white skinhead. Finally, dreadlocks, while considered by some to be among the most “natural” of hairstyles available to African Americans, are out. Indeed dreads, as they are often referred to, are even somewhat controversial within African American communities for their association with, among other things, Rastafarianism. So other than as a commitment to a white aesthetic, the exclusion of dreads (even in terms of A&F’s own commitment to the “natural” look) seems curious. On jewelry, the Look Book offers the following: Jewelry must be simple and classic. A ring may be worn on any finger except the thumb. Gold chains are not acceptable for men. Women may 70 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH wear a thin, short delicate silver necklace. Ankle bracelets are unacceptable. Dressy (e.g., gold-banded or diamond) watches are also unacceptable; watches should be understated and cool (e.g., leather straps or stainless steel). No more than two earrings in each ear can be worn at a time for women. Only one in one ear for men. Earrings should be no larger than a dime, and large dangling or large hoop earrings are unacceptable. . . . No other pierced jewelry is appropriate (e.g., nose rings, pierced lips, etc.) Thumb rings signify alternative lifestyles at best and queer at worst. No gold chains for men? Who has been overidentified or even stereotyped with these in the popular imagination more than black men—from Mr. T to any number of rap artists, and “ballers” more generally? In either case, the signifier “gold chain” demarcates potential employees of A&F in coded ways along race and class lines. A similar case can be made with regard to the reference to “large dangling or large hoop earrings.” Here, too, Abercrombie codes for race and class without actually having to name it. Still, of all of the dress code rules, the most amusing one to me has to be the following: “Brand Representatives are required to wear appropriate undergarments at all times.” Is Abercrombie afraid that their brand representatives might actually be sexualized? The image of male genitalia flopping about in cargo shorts or, alternatively, of an 18–22-year-old version of the now infamous Sharon Stone leg-crossing scene in the film Basic Instinct (1992) comes to mind. Call me crazy, but there is just something about a company that flies in the face of such propriety in the pages of the A&F Quarterly—wherein no one seems to wear underwear or much else for that matter—being concerned about the appropriateness of the undergarments of its employees that strikes me as the height of hilarity and hypocrisy. If the frequent use of such coded monikers in the Look Book were not enough to convince us that the A&F look is styled on a celebration of racial and cultural whiteness, consider that the A&F Quarterly is chock full 71 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH of images of young white men and women (mostly men) with very little in the way of representation of people of color. Consider that criticism of Abercrombie’s chosen photographer, Bruce Weber, draws him as (in)famous for his unabashed celebration of the white male nude. Recall the release by A&F in April 2003 of that inflammatory line of “Asian” themed T-shirts, which were hotly protested by the Asian American community among others. One of the shirts featured two stereotypical Chinese men drawn with exaggeratedly slanted eyes, donning pointed hats, and holding a banner between them that read: “Two Wongs Can Make It White.” A spokesperson for A&F, when asked to respond to the controversy raised by the T-shirts, said, “We thought it would add humor.” The line was pulled by the company soon after they were released. Consider also the variety of social engineering that goes into producing a virtually all-white sales staff in A&F stores. As one former assistant manager of one of Abercrombie’s larger stores in the Midwest informed me, all the brand reps in his store were white, and all of the people who worked in the stockroom were black. Stockroom employees (in the larger stores where they employ such staff separately from brand reps) are less visible and are often assigned to work overnight shifts restocking the store. Many people have asked me while I was working on this project—no doubt many will continue to do so—what’s the big deal? Why pick on Abercrombie? They are doing no more or no less than Ralph Lauren or Banana Republic. I have said to those people and continue to say that such a simple equation is not only untrue, but denies the specificity of the particular brand of evil that Abercrombie is involved in capitalizing on. Ralph Lauren does, to be sure, commodify a particular upper-class American lifestyle. Banana Republic has a history of a similar marketing scheme. However, A&F successfully crystallizes a racism that is only rumbling beneath the surface of other stores’ advertising. Also, Ralph Lauren attempts to market and sell that lifestyle to everyone equally. That is, the underlying ethos of Ralph Lauren is not unlike the ideology of the American dream itself: you, too, can have this if you work for it. 72 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH Ralph Lauren “diversified” its ad campaigns in the 1990s. To demonstrate that fact, among other things, Ralph Lauren in 1993 took on Tyson Beckford, a black model of Jamaican and Chinese parentage, to represent its Polo Sport line exclusively. True, this diversity was of the variety of CNN diversity: news is read by white and Asian reporters, while black reporters do sports and entertainment and occasionally “substitute” for white news reporters. In the same vein, Beckford was engaged to model for Ralph Lauren’s “sport” line and not its “blue label” (i.e., blue blood) line of suits, formal wear, and elegant apparel. Still, Beckford’s own rags-to-riches story made for good press for a company clearly working its own variety of the diversity angle, which was a popular marketing strategy among hip retailers in the 1990s. Beckford represents perhaps the most notable example of this. He grew up in Jamaica and in Rochester, New York. As a youth he was involved in gangs, drugs, and was on his way down the road toward a life of crime, when an editor of the hip-hop magazine the Source discovered him. Not long thereafter, it would be Bruce Weber who would introduce Beckford to Ralph Lauren—whose signing of Beckford sent his modeling career into the stratosphere. Beckford himself has recognized that he would likely be dead or in jail had he not been taken up by that editor from the Source. There has been speculation about the veracity of Beckford’s narrative of class ascension. Regardless, its construction generated good press for Ralph Lauren. I should note, too, that neither Banana Republic nor Ralph Lauren participate in the kind of social engineering in terms of their store employees that A&F does. The employees of Banana Republic represent diverse racial backgrounds, while the sales associates at Ralph Lauren tend to represent an older model of the suit-wearing salesman in an upscale shop. The latter, in addition to the Polo stores, also sells its line in fine department stores, where they have no direct control over choosing sales associates to represent the line. An added bit of anecdotal information with regard to Banana Republic also comes in the form of the person of Eduardo Gonzalez—one of the named litigants in the pending class action employment discrimination lawsuit against A&F. The class action complaint notes that Gonzalez, who was not 73 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH hired as a brand representative at Abercrombie, was offered a job at Banana Republic: Indeed, immediately following his Abercrombie interview, he crossed the hall within the same mall to apply for a job at Banana Republic, a similar retail clothing store that competes directly with Abercrombie for customers and employees. An employee of Banana Republic asked Mr. Gonzalez if he was interested in applying to work as a manager. He applied to work as a sales associate, and is still employed by Banana Republic in that capacity. If, as I suggest in chapter 6, images tend more often to follow and demonstrate where we are as a society rather than play the role of leading us to new places, then the particular brand of a socially engineered whitewashed world being advertised, branded, and sold to U.S. consumers by Abercrombie should give us pause. Movie lovers may recall the song “Tomorrow Belongs to Me” from the film version of Cabaret. The song begins, like the lyrics, in a pastoral mode. The camera is tight on the face of the beautiful, young, blond, boy soprano. The scene is comforting, indeed beautiful. With each successive verse, however, the camera begins to pull back and to show more and more and more of the boy’s body . . . donning a Hitler-youth uniform. His face becomes increasingly emphatic and angry. By the time we get to the fourth verse of the tune, the others in the crowd have joined in the song with a seriousness of purpose that can only be described as frightening: The sun on the meadow is summery warm The stag in the forest runs free But gathered together to greet the storm Tomorrow belongs to me The branch on the linden is leafy and green The Rhine gives its gold to the sea 74 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH But somewhere a glory awaits unseen Tomorrow belongs to me The babe in his cradle is closing his eyes The blossom embraces the bee But soon says the whisper, arise, arise Tomorrow belongs to me Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign Your children have waited to see The morning will come When the world is mine Tomorrow belongs to me Tomorrow belongs to me Tomorrow belongs to me The number concludes with the final verse above being repeated twice more in a chilling, thunderous unity, as the crowd of townspeople gathered at the picnic joins in. Some may call a comparison such as the one I am drawing here hyperbole. Others might say that I am overstating Abercrombie’s case and undervaluing the realities of the Holocaust. Neither is my intention. I do, however, believe fervently in what Hannah Arendt in Eichmann in Jerusalem once called “the banality of evil.” I am convinced that a version of it is what is at work in the politics of race in U.S. society today, and that Abercrombie’s marketing and branding practices represent only a symptom of that larger concern. Indeed, according to Edward Herman, “Arendt’s thesis [in Eichmann in Jerusalem] was that people who carry out unspeakable crimes, like Eichmann, a top administrator in the machinery of the Nazi death camps, may not be crazy fanatics at all, but rather ordinary individuals who simply accept the premises of their state and participate in any ongoing enterprise with the energy of good bureaucrats.” In the words of another philosopher-commentator on 75 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH the “banality of evil”: “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.” This statement well describes the corporate culture of Abercrombie and the quasi-cultish devotion they seem to inspire. There are those, no doubt, reading these pages who will find that it takes far too much of a liberal leap of faith to appreciate the argument I pose here against Abercrombie & Fitch. There are those who will not grasp, or who will feign confusion about grasping, the coded nature of the whiteness that A&F so clearly employs. It is for those readers that I include the more practical, everyday, anecdotal evidence that follows. The purview of such hard-boiled evidence (that which is usually associated with the “simple truth,” a term whose discussion began this book) can usually be found in the area of the law. As a system, the law deals in bodies, experience (rendered through testimony), and revels in the making of distinctions. The law is no place for nuances, ambiguities, subtleties, and, even at times, the vagaries so often associated with theoretical, academic discussion—and with the humanities in general. The law represents yet another realm in which the “simple truth” carries the day. Indeed, before the law, human complexity, the complexity of identities, the complexities of sexuality and desire, the complexities of social and economic circumstances, the complexities of institutional and corporate cultures and the unspoken codes by which they operate, the complexities of deep-seated racism, sexism, heterosexism, elitism, and so much more, all become flattened, cognizable, weighable, and therefore able to be adjudicated. I suppose this is why my sentiments about the law have always been conflicted. On the one hand, I have long admired the law’s simplicity and the definitive clarity with which it makes claims and decides cases; on the other, I have bemoaned the law’s inability to address concerns of specificity, to deal compassionately with human frailty, and to account in its judgment for the ambiguity and complexity of circumstances. Like most systems, the law is, of course, not simple. Its ways have evolved through crooks and turns—and 76 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH not always ones that we would associate with justice and the good—that have brought it to this place in its history and development. It did not spring fully formed and perfect as if from the head of Zeus. As such, the law has evolved its own biases for what constitutes evidence, how evidence can and should be presented, what cases can come before the law, and how precedent drives the law’s machinery. So even though I personally do not hold the truth of the law above other ways of creating and recognizing truth, I present the following here because I know that among the readers of this book will be those who do. On June 17, 2003, a class action lawsuit was filed against Abercrombie & Fitch in the United Stated District Court of San Francisco, California, alleging discrimination in its hiring practices. Specifically, the complaint alleges that A&F discriminates against people of color, including Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans, in the hiring, job assignment, compensation, termination, and other terms and conditions of employment. There are nine named litigants in the complaint who filed on behalf of the class they represent: Eduardo Gonzalez, Anthony Ocampo, Encarnacion Gutierrez, Johan Montoya, Juancarlos Gomez-Montejano, Jennifer Lu, Austin Chu, Ivy Nguyen, and Angeline Wu. These litigants are represented by counsel from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; the Asian Pacific American Legal Center; the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and the law firm of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein. In August 2003 I had the privilege of meeting Anthony Ocampo, one of the named litigants in the lawsuit, over dinner in Chicago. Though I am not at liberty to discuss the particulars related to our dinner conversation that evening about the pending case, I do want to say what an impressive, brave, and astute— even if a bit shy—young man Ocampo is. With that, let me share some thoughts about the complaint itself (as a matter of public record), which I think further illuminates much of what I have been presenting up to this point about Abercrombie & Fitch. What follows first are some representative points from the “Introductory Statement” portion of the complaint: 77 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH • Defendant Abercrombie & Fitch . . . is a national retail clothing seller that discriminates against minority individuals, including Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans . . . on the basis of race, color, and/or national origin, with respect to hiring, firing, job assignment, compensation and other terms and conditions of employment by enforcing a nationwide corporate policy of preferring white employees for sales positions, desirable job assignments, and favorable work scheduled in its stores throughout the United States. • Abercrombie implements its discriminatory employment policies and practices in part through a detailed and rigorous “Appearance Policy,” which requires that all Brand Representatives must exhibit the “A&F Look.” The “A&F Look” is a virtually all-white image that Abercrombie uses not only to market its clothing, but also to implement its discriminatory employment policies and practices. • When people who do not fit the “A&F Look” inquire about employment, managers sometimes tell them that the store is not hiring, or may provide them with applications even though they have no intention of considering them for employment. If applicants who do not fit the “A&F Look” submit applications, managers and/or Brand Representatives acting at their direction sometimes throw them away without reviewing them. • Abercrombie publishes and distributes to its employees a “Look Book” that explains the importance of the Appearance Policy and the “A&F Look,” and that closely regulates the Brand Representatives’ appearance. The Company requires its managers to hire and continue to employ only Brand Representatives who fit within the narrow confines of the “Look Book,” resulting in a disproportionately white Brand Representative workforce. • . . . Each store prominently posts large photographs of models—virtually all of whom are white. In addition, the Company publishes and sells A&F Quarterly, a magazine/catalog featuring almost exclusively white models . . . 78 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH • The Company rigorously maintains the “A&F Look” by careful scrutiny and monitoring of its stores by regional and district managers and corporate representatives. These managers and corporate representatives visit stores frequently to ensure, among other things, that the store is properly implementing the Company’s discriminatory employment policies and practices. These visits are referred to as “blitzes.” When managers or corporate representatives discover that minority Brand Representatives have been hired, they have directed that these Brand Representatives be fired, moved to the stock room or overnight shift, or have their hours “zeroed out,” which is the equivalent of termination. • The Company also scrutinizes and enforces compliance with the “A&F Look” by requiring all stores to submit a picture of roughly 10 of their Brand Representatives who “fit the ‘Look’ to headquarters each quarter. The corporate officials then select roughly 15 stores’ pictures as exemplary models that perpetuate the Company’s discriminatory employment practices. They then disseminate these pictures to the over 600 A&F stores. The Brand Representatives in the pictures are almost invariably white. This practice and policy, like the others described above, constitutes an official directive to give preference to white Brand Representatives and applicants, and to discriminate against minority Brand Representatives and applicants. • The A&F image is not limited to appearance; the Company accomplishes its discriminatory employment policies or practices by defining its desired “classic” and “cool” workforce as exclusively white . . . Abercrombie also encourages the recruitment and hiring of members of specified overwhelmingly white intercollegiate sports. However, the Company does not encourage recruitment from fraternities, sororities, or sports teams with significant minority populations. It will surely come as no surprise that my sympathies where Abercrombie is concerned are very much in line with those of this lawsuit. When I first 79 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH started thinking about this work more than two years ago now, the more I discovered about the company and its marketing and employment practices, the more surprised I was that a suit had not been brought against them sooner. Such naiveté on my part underestimated the resourcefulness of A&F’s ingenuity and, indeed, the ingenuity of racist discourse in our time to mask itself in the form of coded language. Some of this language I have been discussing, and some is attested to in the excerpts from the legal complaint that I have presented. The creation of an “A&F Look,” which almost invariably functions to produce an exclusively white staff of brand representatives in Abercrombie’s stores, might be understood as an elaborately devised method by the company of forestalling the potential legal exposure of such an exclusionary employment policy. The formal workings of what we might call the “corporate culture” of A&F provide the infrastructure for maintaining and reproducing the discriminatory, virtually all-white A&F look. The A&F former store managers, former assistant managers, and former and current brand representatives with whom I have spoken over the course of this project all tell eerily similar stories. All of the personnel with whom I had occasion to speak have been white men. They ranged in age from nineteen to twenty-six and were either in college or were college educated. Some were gay, some straight. All of them, almost without exception, expressed how they enjoyed working at the company when they first started there. They also expressed their discomfort with some of the “unspoken” rules of the company, which they cited as their reason for ultimately leaving the employ of A&F. The allure of the experience seemed to hold sway over these men even after they had left the company. The men with whom I conducted formal interviews all cited fond memories from the experience, even as they all were convinced that something about it never felt quite right to them. Chance (not his actual name), a straight white man in his early twenties, spoke with me about his experience at one of the larger stores on the West Coast, where he was a brand representative. He would later move on to manage a store on the East Coast. On the matter of employment practices he said, “The hiring policy is insane.” He went on to suggest that it was the common 80 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH practice of the general manager (GM) at the store—who Chance describes as “Abercrombied out”—to say that he was not in the business of hiring “ugly people.” Informal games between the men in the stores were encouraged by management, in which they would have contests to see who could get the most “hot high school girls’ [phone] numbers.” Chance related to me that on the day when the store picture that would be sent to A&F headquarters was to be taken, Leo (not his real name), “the only black guy in the store,” was asked by the GM to “watch the front” while they were taking the picture. David (not his real name), a white gay man in his early twenties, spoke with me about his experience at a smaller store in the Northeast, where he worked during his college years. He would go on to become a manager in training (MIT) and an assistant manager (AM) at a large store in another region of the country. David told me about the corporate practice of tying a “target school” (college or university) to all the stores. One of the things he started to notice when he became an MIT and later an AM was that the brand representatives in his store were almost exclusively white and that “everybody who worked in the stockroom was black.” He tells the story of the one African American male employee that he had in his store when he became an AM. He said he was a good employee with a really positive attitude, but the district manager (DM) wanted us (David and the store manager) to get rid of him because he “did not fit the look.” “He’s not Abercrombie,” the DM said to David and the store manager. The DM went on to say to them that “this person cannot be on the schedule anymore.” David said that “not having the look” is reason enough to be fired or not hired in the first place. “Race as an issue is implied,” David told me. He always understood that to be the case, even though it was unspoken. When I asked him what happened to the guy, David replied, rather matter-of-factly, that he was essentially fired by the manager. The process began with the employee first being “zeroed out” in terms of the hours he was scheduled to work; eventually he was fired. David said that this was a common practice. Instead of actually terminating people, you just stop scheduling them (or “zero them out”) until they inevitably get the picture. I asked David why he left the company. He said that he got tired 81 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH of the antagonistic relationships that sometimes exist between DMs and store-level management, where he was always hearing: “you can’t schedule him . . .” or (in fits of frustration or anger) “your staff is ugly.” “I got sick of judging people like that,” he said. “I’m going to be a teacher. . . . It’s just not right.” He told me that before leaving his job at A&F, he once expressed his discomfort with some of these company practices to his GM (a white woman). According to David, her reply was: “You’ll eventually get over it. You’ll learn to let go of your feelings and get over it.” David said he still could not believe that a store manager told him that. It was then that he knew his days with the company were numbered. Randy is a white gay man in his early twenties as well. He started out as a brand representative at a store in the South while he was in college. Later he became an AM in another region of the country. He shared with me some of his observations in those positions. He spoke with alarming candor. At first there appeared to me to be a manner of innocence about his way of reporting this information that seemed almost unconscious of the profound implications of his statements. The more I spoke with him, however, the more I came to see that this was in part his affect and was not a statement on his level of recognition of the gravity of what he was relating. When Randy began with the company, he had not yet come out as a gay man. The store where he started working had an all-white staff. He recalls that the managers were “really cool,” a fact he came to appreciate later when he would learn that this was not the case with most GMs and DMs in the company. He reports that, in the stores, employees were encouraged to “look Abercrombie” and to “speak Abercrombie or Crombie.” When they recruited new brand reps, which they all were involved in doing, Randy said that they were very clear on what they were looking for: “all-American,” in “good shape,” “no facial or skin problems,” “clean shaven,” “not a lot of makeup for girls . . . natural,” “fraternity or football player–looking guys.” He went on to say that it used to be “a big deal to look for white people.” He added that African Americans and Asian Americans “can be A&F if they act white, have white friends, and are very assimilated.” Randy reports feeling pressure 82 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH to hire people who looked A&F. Employees who recruited the wrong sort knew they would run the risk of reprisal from the GM or the DM. I asked him what happened to people who were “not Abercrombie” who came in to apply for jobs. He said they were never called. He reports one case that occurred when he was an AM in which a qualified fifty-year-old woman applied for a GM position. Her application was never given to the DM because the DM “would be pissed off at us for wasting his time.” He reported another case of an MIT he worked with once who “wasn’t very attractive.” The regional manager (RM) informed the DM that she needed to go. Randy said that while she wasn’t great at her job, had she been “nice-looking she would still have gotten promoted.” He cited the case of another girl who had been an A&F model who came to work in the same store. She was, according to Randy, “horrible at her job and still got promoted.” She was even eventually sent to the home office. It was Randy who first informed me about the practice of grading at A&F. The DM would review the work schedules, every name on the schedules had to have a grade (A through F) next to it, which reflected how “good-looking” the employee was. When upper management (especially Michael Jeffries or David Lieno, directors of stores) would come to town for a “blitz” (a word whose associations with Nazi Germany one cannot help noticing), people who were not A’s were asked to leave the store. A preponderance of B’s or worse in a schedule could be grounds for dismissal of a GM. Brand representatives were never informed of the grade they had been assigned and remained, in most cases, unfamiliar with the practice, according to Randy. When I asked him why he left the company, he said he left “because they were bad to me.” He added that they treat management horribly and don’t compensate them well, paying them halftime for overtime worked, with base salaries for AMs in the mid-twenty-thousand-dollar range. Even so, they want you to “look like you have money . . . come from a good family.” Ultimately, I suppose my reasons for hating Abercrombie & Fitch are not so different from the reasons that I have no truck with gay Republicans. It is not 83 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH surprising when one observes that the attitudes of those sporting Abercrombie often seem to have a great deal in common with political conservatives as well. In both cases, you have a group of mostly whites (many of them social and economic climbers themselves—less often are they those who were actually born with money), who are desperate to belong to a fraternity that guarantees all the benefits and liberties of white privilege. Recall the earlier discussion in the introduction to this book about vacationing and “getting away from it all.” In the case of gay Republicans, we are often dealing with a group of people who understand themselves—but for this critical difference that their sexuality makes—as in line to be the beneficiaries of their white birthright in the United States: to be and receive the mantle of whiteness and all the privileges it entails. Were it not but for their sexuality, they too could enjoy the same kind of mobility, belonging, non-discrimination, social respect and respectability, wider economic entrepreneurial opportunity, and, indeed, the right to discriminate against all those others who do not belong. After all, to borrow a well-known slogan from a surprisingly appropriate context, “membership has its privileges.” This is seen most readily in the fiscal conservatism of many gay Republicans, who are typically not supporters of affirmative action, welfare, or any other variety of social programs designed to support the poor and people of color in the United States. And when one looks at the disproportionate numbers of blacks and Latinos who make up the poor in the United States, the poor and people of color are populations that in public discussion don’t always require a great deal of delineation. In my critique of white gay Republicans, I do not mean to suggest that the distinctions between them and white gay liberals are so vast as to avoid mentioning this latter group here as well. Indeed, when it comes to addressing questions about who has access to be able to make the rational choice of a mate in the gay marketplace of desire, the similarities between the two become much clearer, as I will discuss in the next chapter. But even at the philosophical and political levels, Republicanism and liberalism have far more in common than might at first meet the eye. In this regard, gay liberalism and gay Republicanism are no exception. Consider the recent June 2003 Supreme 84 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH Court ruling in the Texas sodomy case. What many in the LGBT community have embraced as a radical step forward by a conservative court really represents a new challenge in the struggle for queer liberation. The decision of the High Court effectively protected gay sexuality by privatizing it. After all, the majority opinion is based on arguments centering on privacy rights. The effect of this move is that civil expressions of gayness may at the very least be in for some hard political times ahead, and at the very worst become effectively outlawed. For privatizing gayness does not necessarily pave the way to gay “marriage” or civil unions, open expression of one’s sexual identity in the military, or any number of other radical potentials with which the court’s decision is presently being endowed. The extent to which the decision has a “liberal” look to it, while simultaneously retaining the potential for stultifying conservative Republican ramifications, is the extent to which gay liberalism and gay Republicanism may not be so different from one another in terms of their radical potentialities. Still, just as much as gay Republicans are desperate to belong to a tribe of privilege and cultural and social dominance, so are those who are a part of the cult of Abercrombie. The cultish ideology that drives the engine of Abercrombie is not unlike the ideology that led Disney’s Little Mermaid, Ariel, after falling in love with the beautiful white prince, to give up her birth identity (even as a princess of the Mer-people) in exchange for her legs (and more importantly her vagina, not to put too fine a point on the matter), so that she can, in the words of her principle number in the movie-musical, be “part of that world” (the world of people). Abercrombie, through its strategy of marketing “the good white life” in what is already a deeply racist society, has convinced a U.S. public—whites (some young and some not so young), some people of color, and gay men—that if we buy their label, we are really buying membership into a privileged fraternity that has eluded us all for so long, even if for such vastly different reasons. In order for such a marketing strategy to work, in all of the diverse ways that this one clearly does, the consumer must necessarily bring to his or her understanding of A&F, and what association with the brand offers him or her, a fundamentally racist belief 85 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH that this lifestyle — this young, white, natural, all-American, upper-class lifestyle—being offered by the label is what we all either are, aspire to be, or are hopelessly alienated from ever being. Only when such a perspective as this is brought to the consumer’s viewing of the A&F Quarterly, to the stores and the special brand of social engineering that takes place by the company to make them “good looking” (and by definition white), and to the very dull and uninspiring clothes themselves (absent the label), does any of this literally cohere or “make sense.” The very sense-making, the deciphering of the codes that allow one to appreciate what it is that “Abercrombie” stands for and means in our culture, can only be accomplished when we bring a variety of racialist thinking to the experience. Either way, when you evolve a way to commodify and market the fundamental tenets of racist thinking that have held sway in the United States from the earliest moments of its inception as a republic (a feat Abercrombie seems successfully to have achieved), this example shows us that you can attach the label (whatever it may be) to even the most uninspiring products (in this case clothes), and they will sell in legion. Surely we know that people are not buying “Abercrombie” for the clothes. The catalog itself isn’t even about featuring those, after all. People buy “Abercrombie” to purchase membership into a lifestyle. Lisa Marsh, the fashion business writer for the New York Post, said that Abercrombie’s “aggressive lifestyle marketing makes you feel like you’re buying a polo shirt and getting the horse and summer house on Martha’s Vineyard with it.” Were that the extent of what they were selling, I might have less of a problem with Abercrombie. But to brazenly evolve a way of playing on consumers’ worst racially based fears and inadequacies born of a racist structure that defines everything from standards of beauty to access to having the house on Martha’s Vineyard, goes beyond mere “lifestyle marketing.” In my judgment, that crosses the line into a kind of racism whose desire—played out to its logical conclusion—is not unlike a variety of ethnic cleansing. Its desire to produce and play on the consumer’s desire for a white, “goodlooking” world where one can “get away from it all,” and to sell that idea as 86 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803 Copyright © 2005. New York University. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher, except fair uses permitted under U.S. or applicable copyright law. WHY I HATE ABERCROMBIE & FITCH the “good life” in the context of a racist society, only redeploys and reinscribes the fundamental logic of white supremacy which, at bottom, makes such a marketing strategy possible and even appealing in the first place. This says a great deal, perhaps, about the status of “race relations” in the United States. It says even more about the deep and abiding contradictions that can be accommodated in our public thinking about race today that would scarcely have been possible to imagine even in the late 1960s or 1970s. Another failing of the radicality of liberalism? Perhaps. In any case, the same reasoning that makes Abercrombie palatable to a U.S. public, is the same reasoning that makes claims of “reverse discrimination” palatable and possible in our society. And that, in the end, is why I hate Abercrombie and Fitch. 87 EBSCO Publishing : eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) - printed on 10/11/2012 9:20 PM via UNIV OF CALIFORNIA - SAN DIEGO 9781429414340 ; McBride, Dwight A..; Why I Hate Abercrombie & Fitch : Essays on Race and Sexuality Account: s8944803
Citation Guidelines You may use any citation style of your choice but, as a general rule, when you refer to another person’s work, you must clearly indicate the source by providing the name of the author, and the year the article, chapter or book was published. For example, you may say the following: Kornei Chukovsky is of the view that children are geniuses when it comes to language (Chukovsky, 1963). If you use an author’s exact words, you must also provide the number of the page where those words are located. For example: Kornei Chukovsky notes that “beginning with the age of two, every child becomes for a short time a linguistic genius” (Chukovsky, 1963: 7). In both of the above examples, you may omit the author’s name from the brackets since it appears in the preceding sentence and it is clear that that is the person whose work you are citing. At the end of your paper provide a list of all the chapters, articles or other material that you cited in your paper, including the title, author’s name, publisher’s name (where available), and publication date. An example of such a list is: Barboza David,“People’s Republic of Exports” New York Times, October 14, 2009. Cochrane, Laura (2009) “Senegalese Weavers’ Ethnic Identities in Discourse and in Craft” in African Identities 7 (1): 3-15. Collins, Patricia Hill (2000) Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of Empowerment 2nd Edition New York: Routledge. Eze, Emmanuel Chukuwudi (2008) “Language and Time in Postcolonial Experience” in Research in African Literatures 39 (1) 24-47. Frow, John (1997) Time and Commodity Culture: Essays in Cultural Theory and Postmodern Theory. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Harding, Sarah (2009) “Perpetual Property” in Florida Law Review 61: 285-327 Hoy, David Couzens (2009) The Time of Our Lives: A Critical History of Temporality. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. Johnson, Joyce Starr. “Mary Haunani Cesar” in Quilters’ S.O.S. – Save Our Stories. The Alliance for American Quilts. (http://www.allianceforamericanquilts.org/qsos/interview.php?kid=14-31-19). Accessed, May 26, 2013. Korang, Kwaku Larbi (2004) “Where is Africa? When is the West’s Other? Literary Postcoloniality in a Comparative Anthropology,” diacritics 34(2) 38-61. Lowe, Lisa and David Lloyd (1997) ‘Introduction’, in Lowe, L. and Lloyd, D. (eds) The Politics of Culture in the Shadow of Capital. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. McClintock, A. (1993) Family Feuds: Gender, Nationalism and the Family. In Feminist Review 44 (2): 61-80.

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