Ron Burgundy: Anchorman

I grew up in a very special age, an era that is surely never to be repeated. I grew up at the tail-end of the golden age of the Great Moustache Revolution, way back in the 1980s…when wild yet low-key rumours were running rampant all around…rumours saying that moustaches were actually terrible, that a great time of reckoning was coming, and nobody not nobody wanted to believe that this could possibly be true (I’ve even been told by granddad that there were unofficial moustache breaks at work, where men could band together and tend to their moustaches in the harmony and comfort of the work bathroom, consoling one another about these awful threats and pretending that the moustache would really live forever and that it was untouchable. Woops, turns out it really wasn’t…). A pretty sad time for millions of united British men, you could say; men who had spent the best part of a lifetime tending to their faces for many hours on end. Thought being a man was easy? Ask any man who survived the great moustache revolution of the 1980s: you have no idea.

Back then, my dad had a moustache and every male between the age of 16 and 85 did too — it was just the law, and you didn’t mess with the law if you knew what was good for you; the strange thing is, when I run those memories through my mind now, knowing how most post-millennium people feel about this kind of facial hair — some of them Nazi-like in their hatred — the concept of the moustache doesn’t seem ridiculous or funny in any way at all. Actually, looking at it from a child’s point of view, the moustache seems like a really solid idea. The kind of thing you might take on Dragon’s Den and leave with a hundred million pounds.

So many memories from that golden age…I vividly remember feeling extremely sorry for everyone who didn’t own a moustache; there were so many of the poor bastards…it was terrible! Walking down the street, I’d see a man without a moustache, his head low, his mood obviously heavy from the mental torture of it all, and I’d almost want to tell him that it’d be all OK, he was gonna make it. It didn’t have to mean the end of the world if you didn’t have a moustache — I didn’t have one too and I was getting along OK without it (although I did have a great excuse: I couldn’t grow one yet as I was merely ten). I didn’t even have side-burns and life was really not too bad, so that proved it: there was a kind of hope.

Sounds like a Michael Jackson song, doesn’t it? Man without a mustache…

Moustache man takes no prisoners! He has nowhere to put them, what with all his moustache grooming equipment

Fast forward twenty years or so and seldom is the day that I find myself looking at someone with a moustache and thinking Wow that looks good, I must grow me one of them. (In order for this to happen, a pretty serious psychological process has gotta take place. Firstly, the moustache in question has to be so big, bushy or impressive that I forget all about the millions of lesser ones out there, and secondly, that person has to be a serious moustache grower well and truly in charge of their own destiny — if they’re not then I can tell, we all can tell, and the illusion is ruined forever.) In fact, when it comes to ridicule, few things know the tedium that is being mocked day in day out like the moustache has, is and probably always will be — even those men with a face designed for it. Worse, moustache mocking seems to be universal and able to cross any culture, spanning generations. The horror of this is that you could probably trek into the wilderness of Australia, come across some Aboriginals who have never even imagined the possibility of the moustache, and still be laughed at in a way in which any moustache-hater would be proud of. Yes, one thing is for sure: when it comes to wearing moustaches, only an elite few are able to pull this look off and retain any kind of credibility– a short and legendary list which includes people like Burt Reynolds, Hercule Poirot and Ron Burgundy. Yes, Anchorman. You know a concept is in real trouble when only a fictional comedy character and an obscure French detective are able to pull it off…

So, let’s start with the obvious things: one clue for winning moustache formula has got to be your name. If your name’s Burt Reynolds, suddenly anything seems possible, doesn’t it? But when you’re names Gary Smith and you work in human resources and you love Savage Garden, it’s just not quite the same…come to think of it, I don’t think I know anyone in 2012 who has a moustache and wears it with genuine, serious pride. And we’re talking isolated moustaches here, of course. Everyone knows that if you have a beard or a moustache that is more than just a moustache then it doesn’t really count.

Lesson one: if you want to possess a moustache and have a very ordinary name, chances are you need to seriously consider changing your name by deed poll first. And your job, preferably. You may want to become a bounty hunter or a notorious bare-knuckle fighter (either way, the skills will definitely come in handy).

The more I think about all this, the more one thing seems clear: if you’re going to have a moustache, you also need to do much more than just grow it. See, just owning a moustache isn’t enough anymore: it ain’t the 1980s. This ain’t no place to play games, my friend. If you really want to make a statement then you need to make a serious thing out of it. You need to cultivate that mother and wear it like a kind of hero! Enter, the behemoth…

See, when it comes to facial hair, there is one clear winner that stands out above all else: the handlebar moustache, of course — that thing of great beauty that commands attention. If ever there was a thing to be proud of, I think we can all agree that it is this. I have no idea who started it, or who will finish it, but I do know this much: if you can master the art of the handlebar, nobody’s gonna laugh at you, not really. And if they do it doesn’t even matter, now, does it? No matter where you are, you should be able to gather more than a few people who’ll come to your rescue. Just don’t blame me if they’re all staring at you…and wearing skin-tight leather trousers with holes for the buttocks to poke through…

And it isn’t just people who have attacked moustaches over the years, that’s the madness of it. Before the media came on the scene, and movie-makers ruined the moustache’s reputation forever with that scene in Police Academy at the Blue Oyster Bar — a place where moustaches were most definitely favoured — the moustache had a big struggle just being pronounced. In the UK it’s either merstosh, mastosh or mustash, or a load of others, and in the US it’s musdash (plus a slew of 0ther variations, depending on which state you live). Whichever way you spin it, it seems to me that the English language just isn’t expansive enough to handle this one enigmatic thing.

Far as the future of the moustache is concerned, your guess is as good as mine. Does it even have a future? Who knows. One thing we need to do is keep talking about the moustache, as right now, as I type this, it’s a sad fact that there are kids out there — teenagers, even — who doubt the moustache ever existed! Time to get that copy of Deliverance out, me thinks.

And if you arrive at the end of this blog post with the question Why would anyone grow a moustache? still firmly in your mind, then just consider this: the moustache is like a mountain. We grow it because we can and because it is just there.

NOTE: this blog post contains a deliberate and obvious mistake that anyone who calls themselves a film lover should know instantly!