This little tike, my #2 grandson, was two when this picture was taken of him in 1990. He’s now 25 and has twins of his own (a boy and a girl) who will be two in just a few months. With all of today’s varying cultures and social styles, I’ll be interested in seeing their first haircuts.
One thing for sure–my grandson’s mom worked as a hairdresser. As handsome as he was (and is), he always was one of the first to sport whatever new cuts came down the pike because he was her guinea pig for testing out the new styles. (And, he probably donned the “rat tail” much longer than most. It wasn’t until he was being bullied for it at school that mom decided she would cut it off.)
And, just what was behind the mullet do’s? When and why did mullets come into being? Did they serve a practical, political, or social purpose?
As you can see, the mullet hairstyle was short at the front and sides and hung long in the back.
History of the Mullet
The first known literary reference to the hairstyle currently known as the mullet occurred in Homer‘s Iliad. The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the 8th century BC (760-710 BC) according to the most recent statistical models on language evolution.
“The sprinting Abantes followed hard at his heels,
their forelocks cropped, hair grown long in the back,
troops nerved to lunge with their tough ashen spears
and slash the enemies’ breastplates round their chests.”
In Popular Media
The mullet began to appear in popular media in the 1960s and 1970s but was most well known during the early 1980s and into the mid-1990s. Some of the better-known mullet coifs were donned by Richard Dean Anderson in his TV role as MacGyver and My Achy Breaky Heart, one-hit-wonder, Billy Ray Cyrus–better known today as Miley Cyrus’s/Hannah Montana’s dad. (His 2011 picture on the right shows him still sporting a version of that mullet!)
And there was at least one other mullet die-hard: David Spade in 2001 when he starred in the comedy movie, Joe Dirt. If you were victimized by this movie, then you will know that Joe Dirt was an idiot character who worked as an oil weller in search for his parents who abandoned him as a baby at the grand canyon. Which is my long-way-around approach to the meaning of mullethead–the word “mullethead.” meaning dim-witted, originated in the late 19th century.
From a practical-living standpoint, came the term BIFPIB, meaning “business in the front (for the day) and party in the back,” (for evenings and weekends).
And then, it seemed that the Jerry Springer TV Show drew from a demographic of mulletheads for his TV talk show that began in 1991 and continues to focus on dumb-to-dismal relationships among under-educated and under-cultured guests.
So my take on all of this–from my cutie-pie mullethead of 1990 to the present day–if you want to look and be successful (outside of the entertainment industry), then it’s best not to don a mullet or hang out with those who do. And, if you do want to, then you might try a different spin on the mullet. I understand the 37th Annual 2013 Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival (recently named one of the USA’s top 12 food festivals by Parade Magazine) happens in Niceville, Florida, this October. (The story gets a little fishy, here.) You might need to check it out at mulletfestival.com.