“Pants on the ground
“Lookin’ like a fool
“With your pants on the ground”
— Larry Platt
The song “Pants On The Ground” became an instant Internet sensation in 2010 when contestant Larry Platt sang it on American Idol. Not only did it express a sentiment shared by many in the show’s audience, it resonated because it was sung by a black man.
“Sagging,” as the pants-below-the-behind style is generally known, is a classic bit of in-your-face fashion found mostly among young, black males — though white wanna-bes frequently copy it. No one claims the fashion is comfortable or, for that matter, particularly attractive, but that has never been the point.
Traced back to the prison system where inmates are not allowed belts, it is symbolic of a rejection of mainstream values and an expression of the freedom to dress as you want, regardless of the social stigma associated with it. Because most adults, black and white, find the sagging practice both absurd and insulting gives it even more credence among those who follow it.
Rep. Alvin Holmes, D-Montgomery, has filed a bill for the 2012 legislative session that prohibits wearing pants that hang “more than three inches below the hips . . . (and that) causes the display of the undergarments.” The penalty would be a fine and court costs.
According to Holmes, the fashion is “nasty and filthy, and I’m going to stop it,” as the Selma City Council did with its own ordinance last year.
Good luck with that.
Although we agree with the representative’s description of the practice, the state Legislature has better things to do than dictate fashion to young people who will either ignore the law or find something more offensive to replace it. However, since wasting time seems to be an epidemic with this Legislature, representatives might as well add to their record.
Rest assured that as soon as the law is passed, it will be tested in court and Alabama will find itself wasting time and money defending itself against charges of racial profiling and limiting freedom of expression. It would be better if schools tighten dress codes to prohibit the practice than the Legislature pass laws that will do little more than express adult displeasure at what a certain element of young people are doing.
The fashion is an extreme example of the way alienated youth, and some tag-alongs who find alienation fashionable, make a statement against the culture that they feel has marginalized them. We can find the fashion “nasty and filthy,” but is making it illegal the answer?