Feb 3, 2004

Watch Where You Put That Signifier

There seems to be some kind of event going on in the HBS cafeteria whereby students are shining peoples' shoes to raise money for the homeless. I saw two decidedly non-caucasian men shining the shoes of a relentlessly caucasian professor. Now I know that these guys are hot shit B-school students from one of them having been in one of my boss's class, but why shoe-shining? Shining shoes for the homeless...the implication could be construed that the message is that if the homeless were willing to engage in the capitalist caste system (e.g. shining shoes) that they could lift themselves up from their position or whatever. I am probably applying a too-sophisticated analysis of a most likely earnest effort on the part of the students, but the kind of complete cluelessness as to the subtext of the 'performance' (as the context of the event sort of is), rankles me.

Also, I wonder if these guys are turned on by shining those pointy elf-shoes that all the B-school women seem to be wearing these days. Personally, I'd be worried that they were going to put my eye out with those sharp little points. Oedipus by way of shoe fetishism?

These B-school drones probably would not know a fetish if it tied them to the bed and clamped a lobster on their nipples.

But ladies, what is up with the elf shoes? Those things can't possibly be comfortable. It makes me think of foot-binding or something... If you're into that kind of thing, that's fine...but I don't think any of these women scurrying around in their pointy little boots think about what they signify at all (the same problem as with the shoeshining above). Are these slim, viscious, pointy little things the current social climate's reaction to funky chunky shoes, the polar opposite of the 70's liscentiousness and the 90's pomo appropriation of the same: the woman of the New American Century, chaste and submissive but ready to eviscerate any potential terrorist with the daggers on her feet?

I must admit I'm a big fan of the sexual aura of big boots, but these foot-rapiers do not titillate me in the least. They seem ridiculous and unecessarily threatening. A good metaphor for our culture. I don't think many wear them ironically. Fashion is supposed to be a tool of the good guys, isn't it?

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