Thursday, October 26, 2006
Media Myths and Uniformity
Here is a picture of four of our five Chinese exchange students with some of the kids from the host families. As you can see, the kids all pretty much dress the same. I recently ran across an Alberto VO5 commercial that has been airing where two students at a Maoist-looking institution use hair gel to rebel against the system.
I showed this video to our guest and he seemed more perplexed than offended. He's pretty sure the actors aren't even speaking Chinese since he couldn't understand a word of the commercial. We asked if uniforms were required at his school. We had to explain the concept of uniforms by describing soldiers and doctors. He wasn't aware of any schools where kids wore uniforms.
Uniforms are the current faddish panacea for discipline problems in both urban and suburban areas. I'm not sure dressing alike solves the problems. My son wears a steady rotation of black tee shirts with jeans. If that's not a uniform I don't know what is.
One supposed advantage of school uniforms is that it avoids the cost of kids demanding expensive designer clothes. Have you priced school uniforms? Hello? A closet full of khakis and monochrome polo shirts is still clothes that have to be bought and laundered and replaced when they wear out. My wife gave our son the tee shirt she got from the local AppleStore grand opening. Cost to us: free. He gets all his baggy shorts and cargo pants at Kohls and if you ever pay full price there, you're getting ripped off.
If a kid won't go to school without the latest Amercrombie & Fitch or American Eagle (I'm old-school enough to remember when AE was business attire) that is a decision between parents and their children. School uniforms, like teen driving curfews and license restrictions, just allow parents to shrug their shoulders and abdicate their authority to The Man.
Blatant Comment Whoring™: Dealers choice: Is the hair gel commercial trafficking in offensive stereotypes or just some clever social satire? Or: Do school uniforms make a difference? If China has abandoned them, why are we eager to adopt them?