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New Suburbans: Field Explorations with Chaz and Brittany

Matt Thomson
Popped Collars photo from 1500mass.com

The stratum of the human species we're studying here is a prevalent, yet often elusive breed.

Poor Brian, our assistant, we lost him last night. Died from complications with popped collar polos. No one can really explain the accident, but it must have been a slip in judgment on his part, since he knew how dangerous it was, getting too close to one of those fellas. From what I've been told by those who witnessed the event, they say Brian was attempting the unthinkable: getting much too close to the man, unable to resist the temptation to try to fold his collar (well technically collars) back down to the pre-popped position, as he understood how polo shirts should be. By all accounts Brian barely made his way on to the second layer of collars before he was severely battered by a torrent of old hackey sacks and Dave Matthews Band bumper stickers.

The stratum of the human species we're studying here are a prevalent, yet often elusive breed. Here's an easy way to spot them: turn on MTV; hopefully Real World is on. No, not the old episodes where they kind of meant something. The new ones. Is it shot in Las Vegas or Ft. Lauderdale? Perfect. Oh, they're competing on a beach somewhere? For a new Suburban? Even better. Okay now look for a male who matches any of the following characteristics:

1. He is wearing a remarkably, some might say unnecessarily-thick hemp necklace, with a knot design more intricate than an MC Escher painting (these men love Escher by the way). There is also the strong possibility of a string of Greek alphabet beads tied to the center of the necklace.

2. Remarkably, he manages to wear a golf hat visor while still staying exposed to the entirety of the sun's UV rays. Defying physics, the hat is tilted, flipped, and left resting, deftly balanced, on the edge of his right earlobe.

3. Somewhere on his arm there should be a tattoo of barbed wire or tribal etchings or barbed wire that turns into tribal etchings after passing through flames.

4. He is in the process of, or recently completed quoting some lines from a Dave Chapelle skit.

Spotted one, didn't you? It didn't take long did it? They are seemingly everywhere; as ubiquitous as the stereotype that they could beat you to death if they sense a threat to their popped collars. And while not all these young males are as life-threatening as the pack recently encountered (Rest in Peace, Brian) most do fit the behavioral mode specific to their ilk; whether it be in style, mentality or sexual interests. In the field, we refer to this species as the Chaz. Believed to have been the name of the first of Socrates' students to have repeatedly slept during his lectures, the term now represents a popular nickname for 75 percent of their entire population. Still, though they are found across the globe, the ubiquity of the Chaz should not render us indifferent to their significant contributions to human culture. In the name of anthropological science, these young people should be closely studied. So come, explore their world with me.

The World of the Chaz (Part One) - The Natural Selection of Hip-Hop
The first thing you'll notice in your journey through the Chaz world is the physical demeanor they employ, and how that relates to a reoccurring mission they all seem to strive for: appearing as sexually virile as humanly possible. Let's look at the clothing line first, which has a definite foot in hip-hop culture. Indeed, you'll notice that the Chaz will take many of his cues from the surface of hip-hop and weave them into his style; resulting in a unified urban coat with various individual markings, each representing their own identifiable traits.

The Ginobili Gigalo Chaz, for instance, will always appear as if he just won a heavy game of street ball; usually in a 5-on-1 match where he was forced to wear arm weights. This Chaz is well known for his utter disdain of sleeves.

The Bandanna Banana Chaz honestly believes he can attract mates with an exotic collection of doo-rags tied onto every available spot of his body.

You will also find the occasional use of urban vernacular, as with the Sup'yo-Dawg'yo-Peace'yo Chaz. Or greetings complete with complex hand gestures, as with the Southeastern White Knuckler.

A personal favorite among my team is the Chaz of Geometric Tilt with Baseball Hat; precisely because of how angular their tilted hats actually are. In fact, some theories suggest that with the combined force of these sloped hats, every Chaz in the world could dismantle the X-Y plane and momentarily reverse the spin of the Earth.

What's interesting about the Chaz involvement with hip-hop culture though, is that it is a relatively minor, mostly surface affair. In fact, it's not so much that they openly steal the image of the hip-hop world, as they siphon off swigs, thereby never getting too close to the stark realism of urban life conveyed in the mainstream hip-hop soundtrack. The primary reason being, of course, that the Chaz is an affluent white person who, understandably so, wants to stay that way. Being raised in the upper middle class, they have no direct connection to the urban realities occurring outside the suburbs. Yet they are acutely, perhaps inherently, aware of how prosperous a position their comfort class represents.

So why do they appropriate certain aspects of hip-hop, then? If the Chaz cannot empathize or, more aptly, is uninterested in understanding the truth behind hip-hop, then why keep such a close affiliation to it? Interestingly, it has to do with sex. More specifically the notion of a male-dominated world focused primarily on sex. Now while it is true that the moniker of "macho-cum-misogyny" does not speak for the entire world of hip-hop, when you are living well outside the nearest urban area, watching television's interpretation of the so-called 'urban music', then it's quite easy to get that message.

Click on some videos (see: Disco Inferno by 50 Cent or any 15 seconds of BET: After Dark) and the idea only becomes more apparent: Male rappers are virile sexually dominant figures and their music is an extension of that virility. Furthermore hip-hop is the soundtrack to late-night mating rituals at colleges across the country. In many ways it is the modern day equivalent to Otis Day and the Knights, featured in the Chaz docudrama, Animal House. In other words, hip-hop is used as aphrodisiac music that gets the hips of a roomful of these fellas moving with the same tried and true motifs of driving beats and sexually suggestive lyrics.

What the Chaz world does with hip-hop, then, is distill it into sexually charged party music that simultaneously becomes a source to support/derive their macho male-ness from. Conversely, the Chaz world removes, or ignores, all of hip-hop's more difficult realities with the same process. To keep the Animal House analogy going: remember when they go to see Otis the next day at that dangerous dive bar way off campus? That is precisely what the Chaz does not want to know about.

The World of the Chaz (part two): The Bros/Hoes Status Conundrum
Fraternity is another major part of the Chaz world. I say this in reference to the Frat House of course, their natural and federally protected habitat, but to the more important notion of male camaraderie, as well. In fact the close-knit relationships between Chaz brethren is a fundamental root in their world; summed up most eloquently with the ancient adage "bros before hoes".

An interesting phrase in the Chaz lexicon since, as stated before, sex is a primary goal of any Chaz and one would assume that if that were their main focus, then they'd do whatever was necessary to make it theirs. But as always the Chaz world is steeped in mystery.

Primarily, this conundrum has to do with their strong aversion to sentimentality. After all, if macho male-ness is their outward demeanor then any aspect of emotional vulnerability has to be removed in order to keep that demeanor strong. Indeed, even the slightest suspicion of an openly emotional Chaz could result in their exclusion from the group. Worse yet, field reports have yielded sightings of pants being pulled down in class and even a set of genitals drawn on their forehead while they sleep on the couch. Timeless emasculation rituals passed down through generations, no doubt. For safety's sake then, the Chaz steers clear of any snares that could possibly damage his macho front, opting instead for the safety and strength-in-numbers of his fraternal world.

Yet, at this particularly vulnerable stage of his life, the Chaz is caught in a fascinating bind. On the one hand he is youthful and energetic; able to follow the scent of a traveling jam band for months on end. But he is also a great planner; naturally entrepreneurial and constantly making connections to secure a well-fed future. As said before, though he may act libidinous and uninhibited, the Chaz knows the power that comes from the affluence and stability of his childhood, and it is something that he does not want to give up. At the end of the day, he understands what a permanent relationship can bring to the table: marriage, family, constancy from which an economic security ultimately springs. Where these two worlds meet then is at sex: as both the youthful and mature inclinations of the Chaz view it as integral to survival. Indeed, despite his claims that bros always do come before hoes he is quite keen on the idea of finding a significant other.

Which brings me to the most mystifying facet of Chaz life: their highly-animated female counterpart, the women who cannot help but love their Chaz. Known in our field, for numerous reasons, as the Brittany .


Big Glasses photo from MSU.edu

The World of the Chaz (part three): The Brittany. Or, 'Woooooo'.
Not much is known of the Brittany world and its inner workings. Despite countless hours of videotape shot across the (gated and tropical parts of the) globe depicting her in her naturally preferred habitat, observations rarely go beyond the physical. We do know that they can say "wooo" for a very long time. We know that they only like tattoos if they are on the smalls of their backs and are of a butterfly, a dolphin, or the Chinese symbol for 'butterfly', with dolphins making a ying-yang sign beneath it. As it turns out, the only irrefutable fact derived from this video footage is that all Brittanys indeed have breasts. In fact, they are so pre-occupied, even worried with the slightest possibility that you might not be aware of this fact that they cannot help but show their breasts. To everyone. For hours. And hours. While going "wooo".

Still the real question remains: why is the Brittany attracted to the Chaz and why the Chaz attracted to the Brittany? There are of course, clear similarities between the two groups. Both stem from the same economic background and smartly understand the power that comes with remaining affluent. The Fraternity of the Chaz world has a direct correlation to the Brittany world and their Sororities. And, the status and power that these exclusive clan dwellings create endows both the Chaz and the Brittany with a high degree of confidence -- so much so that it becomes a type of pheromone to naturally attract the other.

In the Brittany world, for instance, the confidence to wear sunglasses comparable to medium sized dinner plates produces a high degree of chemical attractant. And though they are an extremely rare breed to find, known solely for their poise, the Brittany who can wear sweatpants in the middle of the day, at a job interview, while periodically interrupting the conference to answer her text messages, makes a pheromone so potent that a Chaz can detect her from many quads away.

Indeed it seems that the Chazes and Brittanys of the world just play the ritual game of sex better than most other strata of the species. Their roles are clearly defined; with he as the aggressive suitor and she as the contemplative chooser.

Indeed just like the animal world, the Chaz and the Brittany know how much significance there is to be placed on the display of physical prowess. The Chaz will do all he can to appear healthy compelling and sexually potent. Similarly, the Brittany will do all she can to exemplify her eyes her face and her breasts. After all, the dating game is, at its essence, alcohol and a toga party; a world where finding a significant other usually comes with a heavy dose of intoxicants, loud vibrating beats, and a sweaty dark room spinning in the effects of 200 hundred watt strobe lights. Perhaps this species can get the job done at a better rate then their brethren, and with much more fun, can sense their advantage, and thus know to seek each other out for companionship; making their ritual a surprisingly efficient model for dating and copulation. Which can mean only one thing of course: they must be breeding, and at a rate that is growing exponentially by the day. Anyone remotely involved in the hemp necklace industry is due for a major market boom.

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