Monday, March 12, 2012

Five Reasons Why Science Fiction Fans are Better Dressed

Ever wondered why science fiction fans are so extraordinarily well turned out? While crime buffs lurk about in outdated rain macs, romance lovers entangle themselves - and one another - in bows and flounces and action movie addicts ruin perfectly good outfits with mud and blood, it is science fiction types who balance practicality and style.

Not that I prefer science fiction above other genres of fiction and film, but the future and outer space are where I learnt how to dress. One rough night, I came up with the following list:

1. Today could be the day that the Doctor shows up.

When I was a child, I talked as a child, I thought that I could be the Doctor but when I became an adult, I put away childish things and accepted that I wasn't a Timelord. Doctor's companion, however, remains a possibility (although a possibility perhaps fast diminishing with age).

Martha Jones (beautiful young black woman)
in a russet fitted leather jacket.
Some Doctor's companions have been pure eye-candy, others have been complex and powerful characters and one or two have outshone the Doctor himself. But like the different incarnations of the Doctor, part of what makes the different companions memorable is their unique style. Which includes bad style, the epitome of which is the recent Rory, who did up his top button and tried to look like Man from C&A a full decade after that store shut its beige and button-down-doors. 

I have a coat like Martha's. Except mine is longer, has lots of buckles on it and is green.

When I've had days when I can't get dressed, I've sometimes worried that I might hear the familiar whir of an approaching Tardis when I'm still in my nightclothes. However, watching as much science fiction film and television as I have, I know that outer space is simply awash with aliens who wear dressing-gowns all day long.  And Arthur Dent got on all right.

2. Time Travel demands style, not fashion.

If you are going to travel in time, by whatever means and in whichever direction, being well presented is far more important than being on trend. Of course, fashion comes in cycles, and I dare say trouser-bottoms will still be coming in and out millenia from now, collar-widths and skirt-lengths will continue expanding and contracting, much like the universe itself.  But even if you're going back in time and you know where you are going, you have to be careful - I've seen photographs of ordinary people in the 1960s and not everyone looked like Austin Powers. Only the men.

Whether you're heading for the past or the future, you won't want to be seen in a t-shirt with a slogan on it. Written language changes over time sometimes even more dynamically than the spoken word - Chaucer makes no sense written down, which is why they make students read him to stop English Literature being too much fun. Also, I know you might not believe this but few people find those slogans funny even now. In a hundred years time, it'll be a bit like when people alive today watch Last of the Summer Wine.

Modesty is also important (although most Time Travel stories completely ignore this issue). Many people in the past and almost certainly some people in the future will be shocked, offended and/ or inclined towards a lynching, if you turn up in micro-shorts and a bikini top. Especially if you have a lot of chest hair. 

3. Once Bitten, Forever Shamed

There are superb zombie movies (Dawn of the Dead), there are terrible zombie movies (the remake of Dawn of the Dead) and there are zombie movies which manage both awesome and awful in the same undying breath (Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town). But what all zombie movies have in common is the deep pathos they inspire when we see people condemned to shuffle around for eternity in outfits they would never have chosen if they knew they'd never get changed again. 

Whenever I sulked as a child, my Mum would inform me that, "If the wind changes, you'll be stuck like that!"  Now that's just not true. However, when I think about putting on a dress like this, zombie movies taught me that I might live to regret it.  Or at least, might die to regret it.  Or at least, my friends who have to decapitate my reanimated corpse might be doubly embarrassed for me.

On the plus side, in every zombie movie, there's always one lucky zombie bride, literally immortalised in all her glory. Well, some of her glory. Somewhat gory glory.

4. Superheroes teach us the power of accessories.

Superheroes and their enemies (who are often disabled role models) demonstrate the transformative power of costume, make-up and accessories. Ordinary if slightly better than average-looking men and women by day can metamorphise into Christmas Tree decorations with the clever use of primary colours, lycra and a few well chosen hats, shoes, gloves, masks and other accessories.

Consider Clark Kent's glasses. Everyone knew what Superman looked like - Lois Lane more than most. But put those spectacular spectacles on and nobody had a clue.  They were amazing. My Stephen has tried doing the same - taking off his glasses when carrying out superhero activity, but he only flies into things. I reckon Clark Kent wasn't even short-sighted! 

Superheroes can also teach us cautionary tales about the compromises involved in being stream-lined. When I was about ten, I thought this sketch was the funniest thing ever.

These days, of course, it doesn't seem funny at all. Much.

5. In the future, we're all in uniform anyway.

Science fiction has shown one possible future where everyone is dressed by Jean Paul Gautier (Fifth Element), another where everyone wears a lot of yummy green corduroy (Brave New World) and another possible future where alien races have all the great clothing design (Babylon 5). But for the most part, the future seems full of uniforms with very little room for self-expression indeed. So we might as well enjoy choosing our own clothes while we have the chance.

Admittedly, some uniforms are better than others. Obviously, most dystopian futures involve us all wearing boiler suits or shaving our heads, but we're determined to avoid those - the lose of individual style choices being just one among many good reasons to fight tyranny.  Early Star Trek uniforms are at least colourful and let you know your chances of survival, but the skirts are very short. Later Star Trek uniforms are too snug for comfort or flattery. The uniforms of Battlestar Gallactica, Starship Troopers and most of the clothes worn in the Alien films are just jazzed up modern military. It's like some people are determined that the future should be altogether more muted  and utilitarian than the past, rather than more sparkly, which is what it'll be if I have any say.

I was going to say that I could simply stick with my dressing gown and become a Jedi knight but then I realised it was "A long time ago in a galaxy far away." so that's not the future at all. All this time-travel is making me dizzy.  I think I best go back to bed now and watch a DVD. Perhaps a Western or something...

1 comment:

Future Doc Wilson said...

You continue to be whitty and wonderful!