I was recently in a web video for Harry’s along with the beautiful baritone Jim Santangeli, directed by Tom Scharpling. Harry’s is a razor company from one of the co-founders of Warby Parker. In the video, I speak to my reflection (played by Jim) and agonize over shaving my mustache:
What interests me most about this video is that years ago I created two videos by myself that see me in strikingly similar roles.
Five years ago in 2008 while living in England I made a video for a Schick YouTube contest in which I have a mustache and argue with my reflection about shaving it. Titled “The Temptation Of The Mustache”, I somehow did not win the contest:
Is that accent I chose for my mustache version of myself offensive? Probably.
And even before this in the summer of 2007, I made a music video to a song I made about the tragedy of shaving a beard, with the possible silver lining of keeping a mustache. The only two words to this song are “beard” and “mustache”:
I’d apologize for some of those notes I don’t hit, but don’t you think it is braver when someone who doesn’t have a good voice sings? I do.
I guess I am just doomed to keep making videos like this for the rest of my life. At least I can take comfort in having found my calling.
* You live in the southeastern United States, specifically in a state that was once a part of the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War (1861 - 1865)
* Your household income places you in the bottommost socio-economic bracket; this includes, according to the 2012 US Census, the 16% of the U.S. population living in conditions sufficient to qualify as “poverty” and in particular the 1.5 million US households living in so-called “extreme poverty”, or less than $2 per day before government benefits
* The highest education degree or certificate that you have achieved is high school or below; professional or vocational certificates do not invalidate this condition and might actually further denote redneck status in the US
* Your skin tone is both white (caucasian) and prone to “sunburn”, a type of burn that results from overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the Earth’s sun
* You wear shirts that expose your neck in such a way as to leave it vulnerable to sunburn (see above); for example, individuals who commonly wear turtlenecks would generally not meet this condition
* You speak a dialect of American English which falls under the umbrella of what is colloquially referred to as a “southern accent”, which includes features such as the phonetic collusion of [ɛ] and [ɪ] before nasal consonants, rendering words like pen and pin to be pronounced the same
* You or someone you are directly related to was featured in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), a non-fiction book about the living conditions of white sharecropper families
* You put your new television set on top of a broken television set rather than removing said no longer functioning television set and placing your new television set on, for example, a wooden media console from Ikea or another piece of furniture more typically thought of as appropriate for holding television sets according to standard US conventions; in fact, owning any piece of furniture from Ikea would most likely preclude one from belonging to the subset ‘redneck’, which doesn’t make sense given Ikea’s general affordability; just chalk it up to the messiness of social demarcation, I guess. Anyway, if that applies to you, then…
…you might be a redneck!
I just finished reading Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, a subtley sci-fi coming of age novel (spoilers below). It was made into a 2010 film starring Andrew Garfield, Carey Mulligan, and Keira Knightley, which I saw a couple years back.
If you’ve heard anything about it, what you’ve probably heard is the shocking twist which gives this otherwise relatable childhood to adolescent to young adult story its sci-fi edge.
But what separates the film from the novel is how this shocking twist is made known. In the film, there is an M. Night type reveal. In the novel, this reveal moment never really happens.
The hidden-from-children-truth is a slow burn reveal, bits and pieces here and there over the years, that come into focus gradually. More like inching back from an impressionist painting at a painstakingly slow pace until the paint blobs become a recognizable landscape whole, rather than like flipping a canvas over and seeing everything that had been hidden all at once.
How this hidden-from-children-truth becomes revealed I think is really the most impressive part of the book, rather than the content of the shocking twist itself. It feels like Ishiguro captured something hard to capture about how these truths actually become known. To use a silly example, in films and TV shows, I feel like there is a moment when a child is told that Santa isn’t real, whereas the reality is more like you start to see cracks in the story you’ve been told, and you doubt it partially in some parts in your brain but hold onto the desire to believe it to be true in others, until one day you realize that at some point you stopped believing in that story. I think the same thing is true though for the more important hidden-from-children-truths out there too though. Such as, you know, that quicksand isn’t actually around every corner, which is really something that my Saturday morning cartoons led me to believe was the case.