The Beard makes the Man

I decided to take a brief recess from political and social commentary. This blog seems to be taking a dreadfully serious tone, which, I’m sure, alienates a significant portion of my readers due to my polarizing content. So I’m going to switch gears and talk about a subject that’s refreshingly fun and ‘politically neutral’: Beards!!

Since the turn of the century(or should I say millennium!), facial hair, once associated with swarthy immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, has gain traction in the cultural fabric of the West. It’s as if beards are the badge of honor worn pridefully by every self-respecting millennial man.

Now listen guys, I’m no expert on dating and enticing the perfect girl. However, heed my advice. Girls can deduce a lot about a guy from his facial hair.  Here’s a simple guide as to what you are communicating to potential dates with your beard.

Clean-Shaven

Let’s began with our classic brand:The No-Beard! A product of army regulations during WWII, this look was the look of the 1950s. Every flag-waving, patriotic American was download (1)clean-shaven and smooth like a infant’s toochie! If he wasn’t, obviously he was a dirty Russian commie and ought to be reported to Joseph McCarthy, the defender of the American Way (peace be upon him).

If you’re clean-shaven, you probably exhibit the demeanor similar to the likes of Ward Cleaver. You’re a hard-working, family man. You own your own house. You work in a typical 9-5, white-collar setting. You’re an attentive parent, a loving husband and a productive citizen of this great country. Sure, some people may find you boring but people like you are a valuable asset to this nation and for that, we salute you.

The Mustache

If you have a mustache and you’re not Tom Selleck, Frank Zappa, or the guy who played Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World, you should probably do us all a favor and shave that thing off!

In the old country, the mustache was a symbol of virility and masculine strength. However, we’re not in the old country. Here in the United States, possessing a mustache implies one of three facts about you.

1) You’re a moonshine-drinking, gun-totting, Bible-tumping, Trump-supporting, deer-hunting, trailer trash redneck. You’re a real American, unlike those pussy, liberal Yankees! You’re so American that you have a Confederate flag hanging from your porch! You like your booze hard, your meat red, and your women loose! ‘Merica, Fuck yeah!!!

2) You’re a typical millennial hipster. Despite coming from a relatively affluent family, you reside in a low-income vicinity and continuously complain about gentrification, of which you, ironically, play a small role. You write ‘deep’ poetry no one wants to read. You pretentiously brag about viewing low-budget Arthouse films as opposed to those basics who prefer high-budget quality commercial movies. Donning yourself in a fedora, a tightly-fitted V-neck T-shirt, and gonad-crushing skinny jeans, you frequent those eclectic avant-garde coffee shops and compete with other hipsters on who’s the most noncomforming

3) You’re an washed-up porn star. You’ve spent the better part of your life thrusting your chiseled body against some chick who is desperately attempting to become a respectable actress. You were the lead in numerous inspirational, heartwarming films including Missionary Position Impossible, Harry Potter and the Half-Erected Penis, Holes (subtitled: the G-Spot is somewhere, start humping), Sixteen Cumshots, and the Morning-Wood Club. It’s a shame you’ve never won an Oscar! Unfortunately, now you’re more corpulent than Ron Jeremy. And even Mia Khalifa doesn’t want to work with you. Your lightening rod isn’t as steardy as it used to be. You have no valuable skills in the real world and even after 25 years and you still can’t get a girl to squirt. Good luck with that lottery ticket. Remember, bet on 69!

The Neckbeard 

download (4)Unless you’re an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, you should probably shave that thing off! I’m guessing you love RPG games. You live in your parents’ basement and spend every waking hour playing World of Warcraft despite it being sooo last decade!!!  I also assume you’re not a ardent supporter of feminism. When you’re not playing your outdated RPG game, you glue your eyes on Men’s Rights Advocacy forum and concur that, despite living in a semi-patriarchal environment, men are ruthlessly oppressed! By the way, I have fedora if you wish to borrow.

The Goatee

download (5)Are you a psychiatrist? Great, because I have a plethora of issues I need to discuss. Maybe you can prescribe me some Xanax? Oh you’re not? Hmm…dude, I hate to break this to you, but you’re stuck in the 90s. You probably still listen to Grunge music and randomly spout Seinfeld catchphrases. And oh, you’ve memorized the lyrics to ‘Mr Plow’? So has everyone else like twenty years ago!!

I know you’ve grew accustomed to surfing AOL on your PC running Windows 95 but please, at least roll down your pant legs! We all get nostalgic about the 1990s. The television programming was ten times more entertaining. Film-making was a lot more innovative. And people weren’t irrationally paranoid (well, until the Columbine massacre). But holy shit! Our sense of fashion was like a M. Night Shymalan film. Twisted, nonsensical and somehow, extremely impactful.

The Soul Patch

If you are endowed with that turf of hair beneath your lower lip, you’re one of two archetypes:download (6)

  1. Similar to your mustached cousin, you are also a hipster living in a gentrified neighborhood. You’re probably one of many no-faces in the creative arts industry and in order to signify yourself as idiosyncratic and sui generis, you’ve grown a soul patch…like anyone else at the office!
  2. You’re a 50-something year old desperately trying to relive your glory days. Jazz, Disco, tight jeans, Heroin injections. That was your world. Then the 1980’s arrived. The music got weird. Some fucked-up drug called crack cocaine made its way into the inner-cities. Everyone became a corporate stooge, resembling the likes of Gordon Gekko. Life hasn’t been the same sense. So you frequent those retro nightclub and attempt to reminiscence on your countercultural youth.

The Designer Stubble

download (7)Oh, this little doozy is more predominant with millennials than student debt! It embodies the stereotypical portrayal of a entitled man-child. Let’s analyze the thought process of a guy maintaining his stubble. He yearns to be masculine in order to attract a mate. However, he’s not man enough to actually grow a full beard. So he reasons a compromise where he can appear to be (somewhat) masculine without actually being masculine. Thus, the stubble was born.

The Short, Trimmed Beard

download (9)You’re strongly resembled your clean-shaven cousin. You’re a career-oriented man. In fact, you probably hold a high-ranking position at your company, like project manager. But you don’t want to appear plain and boring. And Steve Jobs has a short, cropped beard. So does Wikipedia’s James Wales. So, why not grow one of your own?

 

The 6-inch (+) Beard

Unless you’re an erudite Greek philosopher or a powerful wizard, you do not have the right to possess this magnificent brand of facial hair. Nothing more to say!download (10)

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Nero’s Guest

Anyone who has ever stumbled upon a history textbook is aware of the name ‘Nero’. He was a Roman Emperor who reigned from 54 CE to 68 CE. Although he was lauded for contributing to the cultural life of Ancient Rome, Nero was also notorious for corruption and deceit, and often accused of being compulsive and, quite possibly, mentally ill.

One night, the emperor hosted a festival, attended by the city’s elite. While the revelers marveled at Nero’s beautiful garden and eye-dazzling decorations, little did they know that the scintillating illumination spellbinding them was fueled by Christians being set ablaze!

cinemaNero’s Guest is the title of Deepa Bhatia’s 2009 documentary, which painstakingly exposed the heart-rending lives endured by the farmers of Vidharbha, a region in Central India. Being burdened with financial stress, to the point where they’re unable to feed their families, thousands of farmers commit suicide, living behind their helpless loved ones and a life of regret and sorrow.

P. Sainath, a groundbreaking journalist who contributes to The Hindu as the editor of Rural Affairs, narrates the hardships plaguing these agricultural laborers, and seeks to unravel the causes of the economic destitution which has lead to mass suicides since the 1990’s. To summarize, the trend towards industrialization along with the effects of economic globalization have damaged the agrarian sector to the extent where the ill-fated farmer is unable to repay his debts.

Twenty million tons of food grains are exported from India in one year alone. Meanwhile, two hundred thousand farmers have taken their own lives since 1997. Not surprisingly, these agricultural workers feel betrayed and manipulated. There is a dark joke among the farmer on their dream of being reincarnated as a European cow, and they are the ones who receive a bulk of the food grain.

Suicides occur almost daily, and the Indian government has yet to do anything to compensate their families. I mean, come on! I can tolerate potholes in Kerala, but can you

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Four children mourning the death of their father

honestly tell me that compensation for farmer’s suicides is not even on the list of policy priorities?!

Culpability should not just be placed on the politicians who have implemented neoliberal policies which have dismantled the agrarian sector, or the corporation which utilize those policies in exploiting laborers, sacrificing human dignity for profit.  Nero is not to be blamed, but Nero’s guest.

The urban middle class. The ones whose lives resolve around engineering college entry exams, foreign visa applications, designer saris, high-rise flats, Bollywood item numbers, and cricket, never coming into contact with a hapless farmer from the rural area. The ones fulminating on caste reservations, ignorant of those who cannot provide a scrap of roti for their children.

The ones who pride themselves in political apathy. The ones who read about scandal after scandal reported by Hindustan Times and NDTV and react with nothing more than Trumpesque shrug.

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But India’s privileged urban dwellers shouldn’t be the only ones on trial. We are all culpable of the strenuous lives endured by exploited laborers. We love our iPhone, which were built by child laborers in Chinese factories. Deforestation, initiated for extracting resources, result in the displacement of indigenous tribes who are not adapted to the outside world. We, Americans, live peacefully while our military is dropping bombs in Pakistan on a daily basis. Sure, we are not the ones who instigated such horrific policies. But we benefit, and therefore, we are culpable.

So what can we do? First-world luxury is nourished by the blood of the so-called Global South. Are we prepared to give up our bed of roses and join our less-fortunate brethren on dusty mats? I know I’m not! And I’m sure neither are you! Of course we condemn exploitation and abuse. Nevertheless, giving up our own privileges is out of the question!

 

Everybody’s a Little Bit Racist

In our multicultural society, in our post civil-rights era, being labelled a ‘racist’ can guarantee ostracization and contempt from the general public. After all, this is the 21st century! How could anyone hold such regressive views?!

Don’t get me wrong. Anyone who dares to inflict violence on either a person or a group of people based on their ethnicity should, justifiably, be scorned by his peers. He who refuses to acknowledge the innate dignity of a certain group of people should be denied respect from his community.

However, there is an unsavory truth which with we must all come to terms. Everyone, and I mean, everybody is a little bit racist.

Sure, we’re not lighting crosses or lynching Black teenagers. None of us would even think about joining the Ku Klux Klan or any Neo-Nazi organization. Most of us berate Donald Trump for his fatuous remarks on immigrants and American Muslims.

Nevertheless, we all have a racial bias. It’s not our fault. And there is no one to blame. Its simple a facet of human nature.

For hundreds of thousands of years, the human race consisted of countless nomadic tribes, hunting wild game to ensure survival for themselves and their kinsmen. It was a dangerous world and we relied on our own tribes to guarantee our longevity. Outsiders were naturally perceived with suspicion and distrust. After all, they didn’t know us and we didn’t know them. They could have been a threat to us, seeking to exterminate our entire tribe. Therefore, it was ludicrous to propose a cultural exchange program, participated by inexperienced adolescents from each tribe. We simply wanted nothing to do with them.

Although there are some groups who maintain the hunter-gatherer way of life, the majority of the human race participated in shifting paradigm into our modern, urbanized, cosmopolitan world. We interacted with a variety of ethnic communities, yet most of us choose to cling to our own. The cultural stigmatization of miscegenation has eroded (for the most part), yet the majority of Millennials still gravitate towards their own ethnicity.

We make baseless assumptions when formulating our perception of a person from another race. When people meet me, they assume I’m vegetarian, even though I think bacon is God’s gift to mankind. When I meet a Chinese person, I automatically assume him to be a savant in math and physics. You’ve probably met a Black person who shocked you when he revealed his ineptness in athletics.

We’re not bad people. But we hold a certain level of prejudice which we inherited from our primitive, tribalistic ancestors. I cringe whenever I hear someone claiming to be a post-racial and colorblind. Listen, buddy, I admire your intentions. But you can’t just eradicate race! Our ethnic identity is not just about skin color and hair texture. It’s about culture. It’s about our experiences in relation to other ethnic communities. It’s about our perception of the world. 

We see race. And we all succumb to various preconceptions based on race. And yes, sometimes we prefer the company of our own kind. So let’s stop pretending we’re all multicultural,  socially conscious liberals!!! Let’s remove the mask of ‘pluralistic tolerance’ 

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I’m not what you would call a die-hard aficianado of musicals. I find most of them to be boring and pretentious. But here’s a bit from one of the few I love which coincides with my points on race.