June 21, 2008

Hair Wars: DC vs. California

Of all the cultural differences between Washington, DC and Southern California, one of the most striking is guys' hair. I'm sure the women's hair is very different too, but their hairstyles vary so widely that I have not yet gotten a handle on them. For the guys, however, the hairstyle differences can more easily be gauged. Here's what I have found:

The most prevalent hairstyle for men in DC that I observed is the Republican "Family Values" look. Epitomized by well-known Washington Republicans such as columnist George Will

and former Senator (now lobbyist) Trent Lott,

nothing says "I hate Social Security," sidewalk wheelchair ramps and other forms of socialism more than this look, especially when it is accompanied by the ubiquitous striped repp tie. If a guy under the age of 30 sports this 'do, chances are he will retain it, along with his political beliefs, for life.

Ironically, the Republican hairstyle, parted on the side, with short sides, and longer, but perfectly-in-place top, seems to be a vestige of Democratic President John F. Kennedy.

But current Democrats would no more be caught dead sporting the Kennedy haircut than they would be caught voting for permanent tax cuts for the rich. Rather, the Democratic look is typically longer, more coiffed (often at a pricey salon rather than a Republican barber shop), and combed or brushed either forward or back, but not harshly to the side. Some well-known Democrats who sport this look are former President (and now campaign meltdown king) Bill Clinton,

and almost-President-if-not-for-voting-machine-cheating-in- Ohio-now-back-to-Senator John Kerry.

So much for Washington, DC. In Southern California, rather than politics, the key industry is show biz, a/k/a film and television entertainment. The people who work in this industry, other than the "suits" (lawyers, accountants, agents) are supposed to look creative. This means that, as far as men's hair, anything goes.

The most popular hairstyle I see in Southern California for guys aged 11 to 30 is the long "shag" parted on the side. It's popular among some actors, notably whiny-voiced funnyman and failed suicide Owen Wilson.

Another popular look for men in SoCal is the buzz cut. Soccer player David Beckham, newly arrived in L.A., is well-known for his buzz cut.

Also prevalent in Southern California is what I would call the Short Shag. Usually it's neat on the sides and messy on top. It's good for those windy days by the beach. Here's one of Brad Pitt with said look.

So, you may ask, which one of these haircuts do I have? Well, I tried to grow it long, but it ends up looking like the guitarist/lead singer for Wolfmother, a/k/a the Sixties Afro:

That works great if you're the guitarist/lead singer of Wolfmother, especially when paired with giant 60s "mutton chop" sideburns, but not so great for everyone else.

I guess the haircut I have currently is more like the short shag. Yeah, I now expect to get stopped on the street and mistaken for Brad Pitt.

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At 3:20 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

The CA hairstyles all look so SEXY, whereas the smooth, parted, and combed-to-the-side do's all look fake to me. No comparison. John F Kennedy did seem sexy when he was President, but that hairstyle is definitely a thing of the past.

The question I want to raise is how often most guys get their hair cut. My husband goes about every 4-5 weeks and it never even seems like he needs a haircut.

Personally I like messy and a little longer hair...

At 5:08 PM, Blogger media concepts said...

Barbara -- I'll have to take a survey. My impression is, the closer one's hair is to the Will/Lott style, the more frequently one has to cut it, maybe even every 2 weeks or so.

At 8:56 PM, Blogger *MP* said...

My vote is for short shag to buzz cut, depending on hair. Grey/Silver looks f'in awesome in what I usually refer to as the "surfer" look. It's a little longer than buzzed, but always pushed forward. But, why the hell am I commenting on silver hair? I'm under 30! Anyway, that cut is good on nearly everyone (even a lot of girls look good in it). DC's definitely not going for sexy. There is nothing about that town. A sexy haircut just wouldn't go.


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