Riding the bus today I noticed more (ironic?) mullets, mustaches and hippies than ever before. I miss the innocence of an 80's mohawk. I mean, it seems like more than a generation gap. While I do find these haircuts and looks in general to be insanely ugly-*ok that part is maybe part generation gap*---what freaks me out is that the kids don't seem to mean it.
Maybe they DO mean it. But how do you mean irony? This is what I call post-irony. It's a little confusing....
I have a friend who claims to hate irony (and the 80's) who swears he collects California raisins because he REALLY SINCERELY loves the California raisins. This kind of post-irony, where the ironic tactic of referencing something historically is claimed as an act of authenticity, has been going on for awhile now. I remember noticing it for the first time in the late 80s. But what does it mean to REALLY LOVE a bad bad haircut. How can you MEAN a mullet?
During the 70's/80's rise of the mullet, it was also called a saftey cut. People had this haircut so they could have both long and short hair at the same time. You could be a rocker (long hair) and still get a job (tidy short hair in front, away from your face). Hence SAFETY cut. It has a long history as a working class haircut, possibly for this reason.
When people in the 90's started bringing the mullet back ironically (see article in Grand Royale, the Beastie Boys magazine, from 93 or 94 for an early, influential spiel) I found it to be disrespectful and in poor taste. Like when people love to laugh at someone who is so behind the times or whatever. It was just kind of mean. I didn't think it was funny or "cool" to make jokes about mullets or laugh at people with them, I just found it depressing and sad.
In the past few years, the mullet has become the new mohawk. Not just worn by fashionista hipsters at discos, but dreaded bad-haircutted punx have now have them too. They have this weird combo of a safety cut and a "no hawk", which is a mullet-y mohawk that has no actual shaved parts, just some longer hair in the midddle, surrounded by shorter hair. This haircut is super trendy right now. There is a newer version of it that combines the mullet or 'bi-level' with a new wave asymmetrical hair cut. To me this looks extremely silly and the punx who wear them seem to be super into road warrior--also silly in a punksploitation type way... see also quincy punks the suburban phenomenon, not to be confused with the band quincy punx... But whatevs.
Anyhow, this haircut has been around for at least five years or so, but it just keeps getting more and more popular....as do the mustaches and the punks-turned-hippies. I can't tell the 'hipster' hippies from the hippy-hippies anymore. And then today there was this one young woman on the bus with a mullet who looked like a real 80's mom, not like a kid trying to dress like an 80's mom. I really couldn't tell if she was being ironic or not. I think she just really wants to have a mullet because she thinks it's the best haircut, not because she thinks it's funny or weird. I think she means it. I'm trying to understand this and I can't understand it. It just looks bad to me and it always will. Like she got the 80's wrong. Or maybe she doesn't even know this is an 80's look. Is that possible? Post-Irony or just bad fashion? Maybe post-post irony, where the historical reference ceases to be evoked entirely, in which case, a rose is a rose is a rose (see gertrude stein) and the thing being signified becomes the thing itself. But, a mullet is still a symbol, regardless or whether or not the kid wearing it is aware of its history.
I'm writing this at a time when I am more anti-fashion than I have been since I was teenager, but I have been thinking about this as an example of irony vs. authenticity. The poser vs. the punk. The carefully constructed and outwardly expressed authenticity of "the punk" might also be a little hard to take....but given a choice...at least everyone knows a mohawk is supposed to be rebellious. Right? What about MR T you ask? Hmmm. I'll have to think about it.
I guess I understand that someone who had never heard Marvin Gaye or Gladys Knight and the Pips before the California Raisins covered I Heard It Through the Grapevine could love them...especially if they were a little kid during that time period. I mean, I didn't properly hear Aretha Franklin or Booker T and the MGs until I saw the Blues Brothers for example. But you don't see me collecting Blues Brothers memorabilia either. No. I collect Stax/Volt singles, as it should be.
Ok ok ok. You are not what you own etc. (see Underground Ideas 2009)
But are you what you wear?
What is a haircut anyway?
I'm going to listen to Alternative TV and try and remember what punk means to me.
3 weeks ago