Saturday, January 08, 2005

Putting the Total in Totalitarian 

Leave it to North Korea to break new ground in how to run citizens' lives:

North Korea wages war on long hair

Apparently hippies are the greatest threat to the Socialist Workers' Paradise.
A North Korean government film crew went around the capital, Pyongyang, walking up to long-haired men and "challenged the fashion victims directly over their appearance." According to the program, mens' hair is to be kept to 1-5 centimeters; balding men over 50 may let it grow to 7 centimeters.

The North Korean regime also dictates, not surprisingly, how to dress as well. Here is an excerpt from a NK radio program, via the BBC.

Tidy attire "is important in repelling the enemies' manoeuvres to infiltrate corrupt capitalist ideas and lifestyle and establishing the socialist lifestyle of the military-first era," the radio says.

Ummm, OK. But what would Joan and Melissa Rivers say?

This is a story both very humorous and serious at the same time. We laugh when North Korean officials insist men get flattop haircuts or not wear that shirt from the Gap. But they get it, culture gets into places bombs cannot. The Chinese communists are taking the risk that it can keep power even with its people living a "modern, Westernized" lifestyle; North Korea is taking no such chances. I think (hope) both regimes will lose.

It all reminds me of a particular Wendy's commercial played in the 80's. The "Where's the Beef" ad is much loved by people, but there was another ad at least as funny:

The scene is a dark, drab warehouse in the Soviet Union. Cut to a stern looking man in uniform speaking into a microphone. He says "Is next...dayvare." It's a Soviet fashion show, exhibiting the next year's clothing line. Out walks a very large woman in a gray dress, while serious quick violin music plays. "Very nice" comments the Master of Ceremonies. "Is next…eveningvare.” The same woman comes out in the same ugly dress to the same music, except this time she’s carrying a flashlight. OK haha, I get the joke now. “Very nice.”

Cut to a shot of Wendy’s hamburgers, and a voice-over saying how good it is to live in a country with choice, and you can choose a variety of food at Wendy’s. Back to the Soviet “fashion show.” The emcee calls out: “Is next…swimvear.” Same woman, same dress and music, this time she’s carrying a beach ball.

You may be able to defeat cruise missiles, but MTV wins wherever it goes. I’ll leave alone the debate of how much of a good thing that is.

Actually, dear, the line is "EES Next, Beachwear"
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