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The mullet — that famous hairstyle of the 1980s-90s, in which men around the world (but particularly in the U.S.) cut their hair short in front and let it grow gloriously long in back. Or, famously, “business in front, party in the back.” Despite being very much a style of the 20th century, it somehow managed to sneak its way into history via that most accurate of representations: the historical costume film and TV series.
For Snark Week, let’s celebrate the top manifestations of this hairstyle that never fails to impress…
5. Patrick Swayze in North & South (1985)
On the one hand, you can’t fault him, because he’s The Swayze, and he committed to this hairstyle basically from birth to death. On the other — bwahahahhaha! It’s the Civil War, but who needs historically accurate hair when you could have THIS:
Obviously some years later, given the spray-in gray at Swayze’s temples, The Swayzester gets married … by which time the back of his hair couldn’t be more long and luscious.
And because it increases my amusement, let us compare The Swayzster with some real Civil War soldiers:
4. Stefano Dionisi in Farinelli (1994)
Farinelli — famous Italian castrato (singer) of the mid-18th century. You would think he’d be dressed to the nines in fabulous high fashion, but instead you get this:
And for added hilarity, the real Farinelli:
3. Kevin Costner in
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) Dances With Wolves (1990)
You guys — everyone loves to mock Kevin Costner for his Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves mullet. And yes, there’s a definite abundance of thinning, feathered, mousy brown hair:
But we all seem to have forgotten the
travesty masterpiece that is Dances With Wolves! Okay so yes, 1990-91 is the height of the mullet’s actual fashionable-ness (shudder). But check OUT Costner’s post-Civil-War soldier, rocking the bouffant feather in front, pow-wow in back along with exxxxxxcellent mustache:
But wait there’s more: the white guy who’s going to teach us about the Native Americans* helpfully meets a white chick who’s been raised by Native Americans, and so gets a racially appropriate love interest. In celebration, Costner decides to let the back get festive:
* Okay so yes, Dances With Wolves was laudable for a very positive view of Native Americans. But it uses the trope of the Sensitive White Guy to translate the Native Americans to us, rather than letting the Native Americans be the story, for which I snark.
And as Costner semi-commits to a life with the Native Americans, he manages to keep the front of his thinning hair under semi-control while the back goes FULL KEGGER.
2. Colin Farrell in Alexander (2004)
This one shoots higher up the list because by god, IT’S 2004 AND YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER. Clearly Colin Farrell gets a lot of unfortunate hair in this travesty of a movie:
1. Gabriel Byrne, Leonard DiCaprio, and Leonardo DiCaprio in The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
Again, YOU GUYS. IT’S 1998. I’m pretty sure even Billy Ray Cyrus had cut off most of his mullet by then. But you know what, it’s the 17th century, an era known for its
long, curly, “full-bottomed” wigs short layered fronts and long, silky tresses in back.
And the real Louis as a young man:
Let us all hope for many, many more historical mullets in our future to mock.
I hated Costner in Dances with Trees. Wanted the Sheriff to win. He’s even more obnoxious in Dances with Wolves. I am not a Costner fan.
Leo, on the other hand, mullet and all is much more to my taste. The Swazester is also hunky
I’ve never liked Kevin Costner either! I had to sit through The Postman with family when I was a teenager, and I cannot and will not forgive him for that movie. But even before then, he always seemed way too self-important in all of his movies.
For that reason, I also found him insufferable in Dances with Wolves. And, in my opinion, the Sheriff is the only reason to watch Costner’s Robin Hood. (RIP, Alan Rickman.)
Costner’s just always seemed like a block of wood to me. Very, very, VERY mellow, boring midwestern accent, no inflection in his voice. zzzzzzzzzzz
Agreed! One of my friends had a huge crush on him and was so horrified my hatred. I never could see what she saw in him.
I must be the only female on the planet who does not understand why Leonardo Di Caprio is considered hot. Before there was Jonathan Rhys Meyer there was Leo invading all costume flicks everywhere with his weird shaped head.
But unlike JRM, Leo is a very good actor so I don’t actually have any contempt for his existence. I just don’t get why he’s supposed to be attractive.
I’m with you on Leo — that’s a huge part of why I hated the most recent Great Gatsby. Di Caprio just can’t cut it in such big, charismatic roles. He’s great as a small, indie film actor. But not a heartthrob Hollywood guy.
I’m sort of with you guys — I thought Leo was fine when he was super young, then by Titanic and for decades after — YES, he was this scrawny kid dressing up in his dad’s clothes. WTF? He’s FINALLY now gotten a few wrinkles and a bit of gravitas… just a bit!
You’re not alone! I’ve never understood all the fuss about Leo either. He’s gotten a bit more appealing as he’s matured, in my opinion (I thought he made a decent Gatsby), but back when Titanic came out in seventh grade, I was SO confused. I mean Kate Winslet was so lush and mature for her age, and then there’s Leo, the scrawny, squinty-eyed child-man? Eh, whatever!
I call Leo “Lumpy Blonde Guy” as I also fail to see his allure. As he ages he just reminds me more of my ex, and that isn’t doing him any favors, either.
Nope, you’re not alone. I don’t know any women who think he is, was, or ever will be hot.
Mel Gibson’s Braveheart mullet.
Also, I don’t know if it technically counts as a mullet, but I always thought Heath Ledger’s hair looked suspiciously mullet-like in The Patriot, specifically during his death scene. I snicker every time I see it.
I didn’t think Gibson’s hair looked like a real mullet, more like bangs?
The problem with the 18th century is that men’s hairstyles WERE kind of a mullet. It makes them harder to snark! (Check out the hair discussion at the end of this post: https://www.frockflicks.com/the-only-semi-scandalous-lady-w/ )
I see what you mean about the bangs in Braveheart! Hmm I’m not sure what to classify his hairstyle as.
Yeah I wasn’t sure if Ledger’s hair was period-accurate or not, but it still makes me snicker every time. (I’m mean that way.) I only really noticed it in that one scene too, which just made it worse, given the nature of what’s happening.
Looking at those images is actually painful for me. I detest mullets. I wish I could banish them all from my sight — forever.
Seconded! Hated them shen they came in, hate them still.
Dances With Wolves was godawful on many levels and the mullet definitely hammered it home. Pretty much looked like Waterworld with dry hair.
Oh my god I LOVE THAT THE ALEXANDER WIG MADE THE CUT.
(lbr that mullet is a character on its own)
Alexander was hilarious!
The hair was terrible, it looked like a cheap plastic wig. I made the joke to my mom that the internet calls everything “fake and gay” and the the movie, certainly was fake, but it wasn’t gay enough.
Though the best part had to be the scenes where Angelina Jolie is pretty much bouncing off the walls screaming, and then they cut to Colin Farell who’s just standing there slab faced.
I laughed out loud at that first Dances With Wolves Costner picture.
I saw Alexander at a cinema in India, and the version they showed there had 45 minutes cut out of it so they could make more money with more screenings. They edited it so Alexander was killed by a king in India.
The short version was more than enough for me.
I still haven’t seen Alexander — I kind of want to see how bad it is, but I’m also scared because I have standards.
You KNOW there had to be someone during filming of “Gettysburg” around the same time who was just fretting him or herself to death about the endless beards and mustaches and sideburns (Burnsides?) and mutton-chops going “But…but…how can modern viewers possibly comprehend a society without glossy tresses and blow-driers?”
Dear God, those Swayze pictures! That is just FOUL.
Please see Hugh Grant in The Duchess and the Highwayman in order to truly see a mullet.