George Will: Stop Wearing Denim!

Conservative columnist George Will says today's adult men should grow up and quit wearing jeans

During a recent conversation, famed conservative columnist George Will suggested blue jeans were the devil. Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that extreme, but—in case you missed it—here’s how our conversation went down:

Matt: I know you sort of famously take a shot at denim in your book. I'm assuming that denim is just symbolic of people who won't grow up?

George: I do hate denim. But yes, it's what I call the airport concourse experience. You sit at the airport and you watch people go by. A 42-year-old father and his 12 year old son walked by, and they're dressed exactly alike: running shoes, blue jeans, t-shirt, [and] if mom's there she's wearing blue jeans. And the thought does occur that we used to have demarcations and changing stages of life, and when we stopped being a child, we put away childish things—Second Corinthians, I think—and we dressed differently. Now, we've blurred these, partly because of the infantilization of the American adult and the perpetual infantilization of American children, and I think it's deplorable. I own a pair of jeans I wore once, and I had to because Senator Jack Danforth’s 70th birthday party was country music themed, so I had to buy a pair.

Matt: I'm gonna play devil's advocate for a second because there's this thing called neoteny—I think I'm pronouncing it right—it's the preservation of kind of a winsomeness of childhood qualities—not childishness—but childhood qualities. And I do think that I agree with you. I mean, as a conservative, my kids know I'm “Dad.” I want to be their friend, but I'm Dad first and I think it's important to keep that. By the same token, though, I think a lot of our dads and granddads, we're sort of in the “Mad Men” Era where like, “I'm the dad, and I'm gonna have the three Martini lunch,” they were sort of suppressing things sometimes. And I think that led to maybe they weren't connected to their kids as much. What do you think of that other extreme?

George: I'm in favor of suppressing things. I think the result of suppressing many things is called civilization. We suppress our appetites, we control our passions, and you can call that with Freud, repression, I call it civilization.

Matt: It's a great answer. You look good. You could be 45. Is it genes? Or is there a secret? And by genes I don’t mean denim.

George: Yes, well, as is the case with probably far too much of life, the explanation is, I was very astute in choosing my parents. We know that family structure and family legacies are tremendously complicating factors and trying to produce genuine equality of opportunity. But there it is, and actually, we want families to be focused on the welfare of their children. And some may be better at it than others, and that will exacerbate inequality, and that's just too bad, because if you say you're for liberty for inequality, get over it.

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