1735: Fashion Police and Grammar Police
|Fashion Police and Grammar Police
Title text: * Mad about jorts
In this comic, two groups of angry protesters are presented and labeled. They are probably not actually protesting side by side, but simply drawn side by side to compare their similarities.
The left group represents the Fashion Police with Cueball holding a sign implying that Crocs are prohibited (by showing Crocs shoe/sandal in a circle with a strike through it). Crocs are a type of clogs made of foam. Crocs (and their imitators) have become fairly popular due to their low price, comfort, and ease of use, but are broadly considered unfashionable to wear in public. It is not the first time Randall mocks a special type of shoes, previously in 1065: Shoes Randall was after shoes that has those creepy individual toes like Vibram FiveFingers. They will also never be a hit with the Fashion Police.
The right group represents the Grammar Police with another Cueball holding a sign with three homophones: Their (belongs to them), They're (contraction meaning "they are"), There (a location). These words, due to their common usage and identical pronunciation are frequently confused for one another, with one spelling being used in a context meant for a different one, causing the Grammar Police to quickly intervene (see 386: Duty Calls). See the Grammar Police on Twitter and also Linguistic prescription which comes up on Wikipedia when searching for Grammar Police.
The two groups look similar, standing in similar poses, with one Cueball holding signs in each group, and Megan in the front line of both groups. Each group also has one member brandishing a sword, indicating the exaggerated level of intensity they feel about their respective causes.
Both types of people will correct, criticize, denigrate or mock those who fail to conform to their criteria for what is "correct". Fashion police oppose people wearing clothing that's mismatched, out of style/fashion or simply "ugly" to them. Grammar police are "sticklers" for grammar rules and have an immediate negative reaction when someone uses non-standard grammar in a sentence. These two groups are generally seen as socially separate, and their goals appear very distinct, but the comic explains how the two groups are actually very similar. This is demonstrated by listing eight characteristics (plus a ninth in the title text) common to both groups. See explanation in the table below.
In the caption below the comic Randall notes that he just realized that these are literally the same people because they both exhibit the listed traits.
It seems like a safe assumption (see 1339: When You Assume) that there are more grammar pedants (see title text of 1652: Conditionals) than fashion police people who read xkcd, and it also would seem likely that many xkcd readers would dislike the Fashion Police. This comic may, therefore, be intended to point out to grammar pedants that their behavior is functionally similar to that of other people who they dislike. Ponytail also represented the grammar police in 1576: I Could Care Less, where Megan puts her in place after she polices her sentence; this thus shows what Randall thinks about such police work and supports the above assumption. In 1576: I Could Care Less, "literally" was also used in the title text.
Randall is, with regards to language, definitely one of those that can belong in this group: To seem cool and casual, pretend to ignore them while understanding them very well.
The title is a ninth point to add to the list, with the asterisk in front representing one more bullet. See the last entry in the table below for more:
Table of individual items
|Judgemental and Smug
|Both groups tend to feel very comfortable in their own mastery of their particular field, and are frequently condescending to those who either lack their expertise, or are uninterested in meeting their standards.
|Angry about something deeply arbitrary
|Both grammar and fashion are, essentially, made-up human constructs.
|Strong opinions backed by style guides
|Grammar has The Elements of Style, fashion has fashion magazines.
|Appreciate that the way that you are interpreted is your responsibility
|Whether or not you're interested in fashion or 'proper' grammar, how you dress and speak will impact how others perceive you, and often how they treat you. Whether this is fair or not, it is a reality, and each person is responsible for how they present themselves.
|Understand that there's no way to "opt out" of sending messages by how you present yourself, and attempts to do so send strong messages of their own
|As above, our dress and speech will be taken by others as sending messages about ourselves. Trying to ignore the rules of either grammar or fashion is, itself, a message, as it presents to the world that we refuse to live by this set of rules. Whether or not we're trying to convey that message, it is what will come across.
|To seem cool and casual, pretend to ignore them while understanding them very well
|People who appear to not understand the rules of either grammar or fashion will often be seen as ignorant or low-class. On the other hand, deliberately ignoring rules of either when its clear that you've mastered them comes across as casual, since it's clear that you're choosing to play with the rules, rather than simply not knowing them.
|Vindictive about things that are often uncomfortably transparent proxies for race or social class
|This is probably the most impactful observation. Rules around fashion and grammar, being arbitrary, are generally set by the most powerful classes in any society, which often run along racial lines as well. As a result, the "proper" way to dress or speak generally remains associated with those classes. This association can be pragmatic, such as "fashionable" clothing being more expensive and hard for poor people to acquire, or it may simply be cultural, as 'proper' grammar is whatever's spoken in wealthy neighborhoods and schools, while language variants associated with poor people and minority groups is bluntly denounced as 'wrong', even if it has a fully consistent internal grammar. Similarly, fashions that are associated with poor and non-white social groups are broadly considered to be inappropriate, even if the reasons are arbitrary. As a result, such things become signifiers by which one can present oneself as being part of a social class. In America, it would be socially unacceptable to reject a job applicant because they grew up poor, and illegal to do so because of their race. However, rejecting an applicant for using 'improper' grammar, or for not wearing the right clothing or hairstyle, is standard practice. Randall identifies this fact as "uncomfortably transparent".
|Fun to cheer on until one of them disagrees with you
|As with any arbitrary set of rules, those that we're in agreement and comfortable with are easy to promote, and we may enjoy taking part in the condemnation of others. But that suddenly changes when we find ourselves on the outside, condemned for our own use of language or how we dress. At that point, the flaws of such groups become much harder to ignore.
|Mad about jorts (Title text)
| "Jorts" is a portmanteau for a pair of jeans that are made into shorts.
The fashion police would be mad about jorts for being unfashionable.
The grammar police would be mad about the word 'jorts' being an inappropriate portmanteau of jeans and shorts, and also for the fact that the sentence could be misinterpreted as if someone likes jorts, as in being "mad about" something in a positive way.
It is also possible that the Grammar police are indeed "mad about Jorts" in the positive sense, i.e Grammar Police love Jorts.
- [Beneath two headings to the left and right are shown two aggressive-looking groups of people with only the four people in the front clearly shown for each group. Behind them five other people can be seen, but they are not drawn with the same solid line and are only partly shown behind the first four, but legs from all five in each group can be seen along with some heads (all Cueball like) and arms etc. The front of the left group consist of Hairy holding a fist up towards left, Megan with her arms crossed in front of her chest, Cueball holding a sign, using both hands, straight up above his head and another Cueball-like guy to the right is holding up a broken branch in one hand toward right. The person behind this last person is shown to hold up his fist towards right like Hairy does to the left. The sign shows a Crocs shoe in a circle with a strike through it going above the Crocs from top left to bottom right. The front of the right group consist of Megan holding both her arms over her head hands folded into fist while looking towards left, Cueball holding a sign, using both hands, towards the right and up above Ponytails head, she is raising one hand in a fist to the left and finally a bald guy with glasses is brandishing a short sword in one hand toward right while holding his other hand palm up. The sign has three similar words written beneath each other.]
- Left: Fashion Police
- Right: Grammar Police
- [Below the two groups are eight points with bullets:]
- Judgemental and smug
- Angry about something deeply arbitrary
- Strong opinions backed by style guides
- Appreciate that the way that you are interpreted is your responsibility
- Understand that there's no way to "opt out" of sending messages by how you present yourself, and attempts to do so send strong messages of their own
- To seem cool and casual, pretend to ignore them while understanding them very well
- Vindictive about things that are often uncomfortably transparent proxies for race or social class
- Fun to cheer on until one of them disagrees with you
- [Caption below the panel:]
- I just realized these are literally the same people
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