JESSICA SMIT

 It’s all business in the front and party in the back: the mullet. Or rather, to use the common (pun intended) expression, the “moolay”.  At the initial stages of its development, surely, the mullet had more sophistication than it does today. But these initial stages are difficult to pin down exactly.

Although the Oxford English Dictionary admits that the origin of the term “mullet” is uncertain, it does proffer that it was “apparently coined, and certainly popularised, by US hip hop group The Beastie Boys” in their hit song of 1994, Mullet Head, which says “You wanna know what’s a mullet? Well, I got a little story to tell about a hair style that’s a way of life.”

But we all know that the hairstyle was around long before 1994. In fact, if you want to be just a little bit outrageous (which, face it, is what the mullet is all about), you could indulge the popular anecdote, which credits the Sphinx with the first known mullet. If you look closely, squint a bit, and assume that what you’re seeing on the head of the Sphinx is its hair and not a head wrap.

More seriously though, the rise of the mullet is  most often attributed to the 1970s glam rock style – think David Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust. The hairstyle grew into its heyday in the 1980s and early 90s. Almost everyone had one: newsreaders, sport stars, actors, musicians, and quite possibly your dad. We all remember those dodgy old photos of Mel Gibson and Michael Bolton. And let’s not forget the almost infamous mullet of Billy Ray Cyrus.

In fact, this is probably partly where the current stereotype of the mullet came from: men who have mullets come from the Southern United States, wear plaid shirts and listen to country music.

In fact, the mullet was so popular in the south of America that it developed many different terms of endearment such as The Tennessee Top Hat, The Kentucky Waterfall, The Camaro Crash Helmet and The Missouri Compromise.

The Germans also had their own special relationship with the hairstyle affectionately known to them as the Vokuhila, which is an acronym for vorne-kurz-und-hinten-lang which translates into “short in the front and long in the back.”

After the 90s however, the mullet lost all credibility. It morphed into a comic hairstyle and you could now see it on the Jerry Springer Show or in movies like Joe Dirt, with only the odd real-life sighting.

In Iran, they went to the extent of banning the mullet earlier this year. This is because it deviates from the government’s approved hairstyles as part of their fight against Western cultural influence.

Today, mostly in Europe, the mullet has made a bit of a comeback in the form of a miniaturised version, the fashion mullet. This is the trimmed down mullet, which is somewhat reminiscent of a rat’s tail, that has been spotted around campus lately. But when Perdeby asked, it seemed that most mullet-toting guys were embarrassed by their mullets.

Heino van Wyk, a second-year chemical engineering student, says that he doesn’t really like his mullet and is planning to cut it as soon as possible. He explains, “There is only one guy in Hatfield where I can cut my hair, and he’s this Italian guy. He cut my hair like this.” He goes on to say that he thinks the mullet is common, and “it makes you think of somebody driving a tow truck.”

Nick Park, currently doing his second year in mechanical engineering, also gives his hairstylist the credit, or the blame, for his mullet. “I asked him to do something new and this is how he cut it. But I’m probably going to cut it off anyway.”

Ryan Joubert, who will be graduating with a BA English degree this year, admits to having had a mullet once, briefly. “It was for an 80’s themed party and it made me feel common and trashy. I cut it off soon after,” he says.

One wonders why, then, there are so many mullets on campus. But nonetheless, our campus is a feast of different cultures so it’s only fitting that we should have a wide variety of hairstyles. And therefore, in honour of non-discrimination, we salute the mullet for its somewhat unique contribution to diversity.

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