… Sleight had arranged for us to have a look at a garment prototype. We’d picked up interesting industry buzz about it, though when we got the photos and tracings, really, we couldn’t see why. Our best analyst thinks it’s not a tactical design. Something for mall ninjas.”
“For what?”
“The new Mitty demographic.”
“I’m lost.”
“Young men who dress to feel they’ll be mistaken for having special capability. A species of cosplay, really. Endemic. Lots of boys are playing soldier now. The men who run the world aren’t, and neither are the boys most effectively bent on running it next. Or the ones who’re actually having to be soldiers, of course. But many of the rest have gone gear-queer, to one extent or another.”
Bigend’s teeth showed. “We had a team of cultural anthropologists interview American soldiers returning from Iraq. That’s where we first heard it. It’s not wholly derogatory, mind you. There are actual professionals who genuinely require these things—-some of them, anyway. Though they generally seem to be far less fascinated with them. But it’s that fascination that interests us, of course.”
“It is?”
“It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. Equipment fetishism. The costume and semiotics of achingly elite police and military units. Intense desire to possess same, of course, and in turn be associated with that world. With its competence, its cocksure exclusivity.”
“Sounds like fashion, to me.”
“Exactly. Pants, but only just the right ones. We could never have engineered so powerful a locus of consumer desire. It’s like sex in a bottle.”
“Not for me.”
“You’re female.”
“They want to be soldiers?”
“Not to be. To self-identify as. However secretly. To imagine they may be mistaken for, or at least associated with. Virtually none of these products will ever be used for anything remotely like what they were designed for. Of course that’s true of most of the contents of your traditional army-navy store. Whole universes of wistful male fantasy in those places. But the level of consumer motivation we’re seeing, the fact that these are often what amount to luxury goods, and priced accordingly. That’s new.
> Zero History
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