Posted on November 6, 2018
by Steve Janowick
I was tired of the same old look, and it was time for a different haircut. So, I did what every schlep in the modern age does-I went to the abyss that is YouTube and journeyed down the dreaded rabbit hole to find a haircut that would suit me. Better than the static photo, the video format allows one to see the actual process from beginning to end. But it’s ironic that on such an advanced, technological platform to watch men’s hairstyles, 90% of the barbers and advice givers on there were some of the most throwback, vintage looking cats I’d seen in a long time.
And I’m not talking 70’s or 80’s retro either. I’m talking 3-4 generations ago, turn of the century, retro. From the leather apron and straight razor techniques to the handlebar mustache and perfectly quaffed side-part, this modern barber could easily pass for his Prohibition-era counterpart.
And it’s not just in the grooming world that we see the pervasiveness of this trend. The number one men’s lifestyle (blog) site, Art of Manliness, has built its reputation on the reverence of this era. These guys (and gals) over there are killing it and have built a huge following with awesome content about the likes of their favorite president-Teddy Roosevelt, and his ilk. And just watch any random television advertisement today for whiskey, razors, cars…and there’ll certainly be a reference or two about this bygone era thrown in there.
Seems in 2018, according to many, that coolness, validity, significance, and just the overall definition of the ideal (bad-ass) man has skipped all that lived post-1960. They’ve latched onto this notion that their grandfathers were better than their fathers, so they want no parts of the John Travolta Saturday Night Fever guy or the 80’s ‘yuppie’ guy. And, oddly enough, men in the millennial/gen X eras make up the largest group of these admirers/detractors.
Why all the love and high esteem for a generation of men that have long since passed? I believe the answer is simple. In this mixed up, convoluted era that we’re living through today, masculine ambiguity is running amok. Every day men are being told of a new norm or standard they must abide by or else. The very definition of what it means to be a man changes almost daily as well, and this creates an unsettling ambivalence in many.
So, the notion of the steady, rugged-individualist, tough-as-nails, old-timer strikes an attractive chord with a generation that’s sometimes confused about its collective identity as men. There was no wishy-washy, fence-straddling back then. No blurry lines regarding gender. No guilt or shame simply for having a hairy chest. Men were men-simple as that. And what we’re witnessing today, by the popularity of this throwback, is basically a collective reaction. A refutation of a pendulum that has swung way too far to one side-the wimpy side.
So, the next time you’re at your favorite watering hole, order a shot of Old Grand-Dad and make a toast to him. He deserves it for reminding us, again, what it means to be a man.
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