Thursday, June 04, 2009

Mustachioed Irony (or Lack Thereof) Revealed! (Except Maybe Not.)

So I asked, is this guy's mustache ironic or not?
And you answered:
a) ironic – 3 votes

b) not ironic – 3 votes
a dead tie. Now I'll go ahead and tell you, I intended for the correct response to be "b) not ironic", and I had the back story all lined up:
"Tom Selznick is an agoraphobe and social recluse who, despite his spacial and social anxieties, has risen to the position of manager at his local GNC. He grew his first (rather tepid) mustache in 1981 at the age of fifteen, inspired by Tom Selleck, because:
  1. Magnum P.I. was cool and looked pretty sharp with that mustache.
  2. Due to their similar names, Tom has always felt that he shared a mysterious and powerful bond with the star and sought to make this bond manifest in his facial hair. (He was, unfortunately, wrong. There is no such bond.)
If pressed, Tom would confess that he's never been exactly sure what 'irony' means."*
But when I read the arguments for the "a) ironic"-camp, I confess, I began to doubt myself. His glasses are a tad too nerdy. The mustache is decidedly "Reno 911". Had my own ironic-attitude-towards-ironic-mustaches—a troublesome meta-irony—unconsciously affected Tom's creation, infusing him with cheeky knowing qualities I never intended,** for though I am the Prime Mover of Tom's sketchpad universe, I am far from omniscient, a mere frail and flawed human (utterly lacking a fulsome and sincere God-beard). Maybe I'm the least qualified to judge his mustache's irony or lack thereof. Maybe I'm not even capable of drawing an irony-free mustache?***

And then I thought, frak it, let's just play another round. What about this guy?
Is his mustache:
a) ironic?

b) not ironic?
Of course it's a package deal, so if the mustache is ironic then so is the mullet and the t-shirt and, no doubt, his very soul. But on the other hand, maybe he's completely sincere, just that dude who's really into the Eagles and hasn't updated his look since he first saw them in concert. I don't know. You tell me.

* If pressed, I would confess I'm not always sure I'm exactly sure what it means either. It's one of those words whose meaning is sufficiently nuanced—and overused and abused—that it sometimes slips close to meaning very little at all. (And as Matt points out, what begins as knowing hipster appropriation often trickles down to straightforward mainstream trendiness.) But at present, I can't think of a better word, so we'll just stick with it—and continue to overuse and abuse it.

**This was supposed to be the easy round. Later, we would tackle more complex and confusing mustaches that danced maddeningly around and across the Ironic/Sincere divide.

*** Actually, yes I am. This guy's mustache is entirely sincere.


  1. Marco8:25 AM

    What mustache?
    I love it when you get all meta and irony-of-ironish.
    I'll go with ironic, but now I'm not sure either. You have plunged us all into an ironic abyss of doubt wherein everything has been turned inside out and there is a constant low moan of a choir bleeding into the surreal landscape.

  2. he's so state fair! i say he's been sporting this look for the past 30 years.

  3. craic-head2:50 PM

    Not ironic.
    Mustaches aside, I'm gonna have to say that the GenX/Y's penchant for irony, as of now, seems to fail when applied with an accompanying mullet.

    I can't believe I can actually provide a link for this, but yes, there is one.(If you peruse the blog, you'll find that any attempt in Nyberg's being ironic has been met with severe appearance-based prejudice.)

  4. this guy looks like most sound guys I've ever seen, so I initially thought un-ironic, but a sound guy would never be caught in such an obvious t-shirt as an Eagles tee.

    so if it's a package deal, i have to go with ironic. But jeez those glasses are hard to pull off, even for the ironic. And that mullet looks like it's been around a while.

  5. Teresa6:21 PM

    I totally know that guy. He's in a band. It's ironic. He was coming off a tour when you drew this.

    As for that last guy. Not ironic and here's why: Most balding men I know don't do ironic hair accessories.

  6. No way ironic. He's an original Eagles fan. One good test is to flip through different pants/shoes possibilities. You *could* try to put Eagles man in hipster pants and shoes, but I think no look would gel. The opposite is true for the previous contestant.

    This test only works if the ironic mustache is just one element in some attempt at fashion. Is there such thing as a full-on, seamless ironic costume?

  7. Re Eagles fan: I went to a concert last night and among the young (under 25) musicians that made up the band was this guy playing bass, although his hair was not full on mullet. Teresa you are right: totally ironic. He was wearing white jeans as well.