Remember Dieter from Saturday Night Live? For those who don't, he was the late night television vehicle -- played by a Mike Myers dressed all in black -- who made merciless fun of Germans once a week in the 1980s, saying things like, "I'm so full of anticipation that my genitals have sucked into my body cavity," with a heavy German accent.
Dieter, sadly, is no longer. But were he still to be around, his skit wouldn't be a whole lot different than it was then. Germans still wear a ton of black. And while some parts of Germany are undoubtedly sophisticated and fashionable, 1980s style remains prevalent. You might see the latest trainers and high-street fashion on the teenagers and 20-somethings, but many of their elders are resolutely holding onto the same look they decided upon over two decades ago. Aged punks and geriatric rockers abound -- wrinkles combined with spiky dyed blond hair is a frequent blend. "New Wave" remnants are also well represented, a look involving lots of black, tattoos, piercings and lots of leather. And an iPod tuned to Nena and early Depeche Mode.
Yet it is that particular dodgy mullet look of the late eighties that seems to have taken particular hold in Germany. And it goes beyond just the haircut -- long in back, short and spiky on top (blond streaks optional.) The look includes faded, stonewashed, skin-tight jeans combined with denim or leather jackets. While the look tends to be unisex, men are almost required to have a porn moustache as well. Many will recall this look from those iconic images of the fall of the wall in 1989 -- with the East and West Berliners joyously embracing and dancing atop the concrete former divide, in all their bat-winged, runner-booted bleached-blond glory.... Perhaps the perpetuation of this look is a kind of tribute to those glorious days. If so, there are still a lot of Germans paying tribute.
And it's getting worse. Not only have a number of Germans never bothered to update their wardrobes since the Reagan years, a number of trendy youngsters have begun rediscovering the 80s. Oversized sunglasses like the ones your mother used to wear are all the rage and -- in Berlin at least -- the second-hand look is a must, with many of the patterns coming straight out of the Brady Bunch.
But then, in a country which has been unsuccessfully trying to reform itself for much of the past decade, such a devotion to past glories is hardly surprising. After all, if you can't even persuade a 50-year-old rocker to consider chucking out his anatomy-enhancing jeans and peeling leather jacket for something a bit more up-to-date, how the hell can one expect the entire country to reform itself? What would Dieter say? Perhaps, "That has disturbed me to the point of insanity. There. I am insane now."