If one were to go by the omnipresence of the No-No hair removal device commercial, one would come to the conclusion that a fair number of women out there are dealing with the issue of facial hair and not in a way that some might label as entirely healthy. The really perplexing thing is that this issue with actual facial hair seems to be completely at odds with the current pop culture zeitgeist in which women sporting fake mustaches are popping up everywhere from the pages of the British Vogue to the snowboarding course in Sochi.
What is especially interesting about the 21st century phenomenon of otherwise perfectly normal women sporting a fake mustache in public is that so many women go to such incredibly painful lengths to rid themselves of real mustaches that in a great many cases nobody but them can even see. Which only goes to deepen the mystery surrounding the abundance of women with fake mustaches. A great many of them celebrities, of course, but that fact only lessens the impact by the smallest degree.
It all makes for a rather fascinating mash-up of self-conscious Deconstructionist hipster irony and genuine irony of sexual politics almost shamefully devoid of self-consciousness. How so? Because neither the hipster women with fake mustaches nor the buyers of the No-No device may be aware at all of those rebels who staked the path before them.
Tina Fey is the aging queen of hipster irony and the “30 Rock” episode perched high atop the pop cultural phenomenon of women with fake mustaches may stand tallest of all. For now, anyway. Liz Lemon is attuned to the feminine rituals dedicated to keeping an actual female mustache under control so that it does become as prominently noticeable as a fake mustache. But she is also willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for her BFF, Jenna. What makes the episode “Black Light Attack!” the ironic hipster high point in history of women with fake mustaches (so far) is that Liz actually gives her mustache a name. And not just any name, mind you, but a name that reigns supreme in the much larger world of iconic mustaches. That name is Tom Selleck.
Shakespeare is High Culture and unlike “30 Rock” that is so far removed from cool that it isn’t even capable of being cool in an ironic way. Unless you’re talking about “She’s the Man.” But “She’s the Man” is a movie overflowing with pop culture significance–Tatum, Bynes, David Cross and, perhaps best of all, an actor actually named–I kid you knot–James Kirk. Not only that, but “She’s the Man” is an adaptation of “Twelfth Night” and that Shakespeare play simply could not exist without women with fake mustaches. Call “Twelfth Night” the prototype for the current fascination of women appearing in public sporting fame mustaches.
Any time you see something going on in the world of women with fake mustaches, you have to understand that the basic template for almost every TV episode and many movies that touch upon the subject traces back not to Shakespeare, but to entertainment icons of supremely greater importance and influence: Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble. When you watch Wilma Flintstone and Betty Rubble don fake mustaches in order to get into a meeting of their husbands’ lodge, The Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes, you are truly watching the genesis of a movement that may have culminated with the gold medal winning performance at Sochi of Eva Samkova on that snowboard.
But probably not. So this Sunday, have a fun hair day by donning a fake mustache and make an ironic commentary on sexual politics. Or, even better, allow your real mustache to grow free, unwaxed, unplucked and even un-No-No-ed and make a refreshingly irony-free commentary on sexual politics.