“If all of human history were reduced to one episode of “I Love Lucy,” the mullet would not make its cameo until the placard reading “A Desilu Production” appeared on the screen,” according to “Dr C. Warren Fahy” in issue two of the Grand Royal Mullet Bonanza e-zine. However, the mullet finds its roots in man”s first civilizations. It is only in recent history that the ebb and flow of mulletude has inspired the pop-icon status of the “business in front, party in back” “do, but only ethnocentric arrogance can be held responsible for the claim that the mullet itself is a recent sensation.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of the Egyptian Museum of Cairo

The term “mullet” was coined by American author and wit Mark Twain, who believed that the haircut resembled the mullet fish of the Mugilidae family, order Perciformes. Twain makes the earliest known literary reference to the mullet in his great-American novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” first published in 1885. In the passage, Tom Sawyer is allaying Huck”s fears of being caught making mischief by Aunt Polly. Tom assures him, “They”re so confiding and mullet-headed they don”t take notice of nothing at all.”

Although Twain was responsible for coining the term, mullet pre-history extends back thousands of years earlier to the hairstyles of Hittite warriors, circa 1500 B.C. The Moabites, a biblical tribe, sported self-imposed skullets during this time period. Paintings and statues in tombs dated to approximately 700 B.C. have revealed that 800 years after the Hittites and Moabites, the cradle of civilization still nourished mullet fashion. Relics depict Ancient Egyptian officials sporting fashionable mullet-wigs.

Flash forward 2,500 years to an inspired Mark Twain. As North clashed with South during the Civil War, the mullet remained a staple of the American cultural fabric on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line. However, it took more than another century for the mullet cultural explosion to enter the fashion runways and music charts.

Modern mullet history is a complex and rich discipline which space constraints do not permit a full diatribe of here. Great mullet celebrities, from Prince to Bono, dynamic-mullet duo Linda and Paul McCartney, David Bowie and teen heartthrobs Mario Lopez and Ricky Martin have all contributed their chapter to an incomparable volume of American social history.

Empirical evidence shows that the overall mulletude of the American population has experienced a sharp decline over the last decade, a decline which can be traced back to George Bush Sr.”s unsuccessful vie for reelection in 1992. It is interesting to note that at the very time John “Uncle Jesse” Stamos of ABC”s early “90s dream-team TGIF Friday night lineup cut his mullet that the once unstoppable haircut fell experienced, ostracism and near-defeat. Draw your own conclusions.

While by the time 1995 rolled around it may have seemed as though the mullet (or bi-level, as it is called in elite hairdressing circles) was locked in its death throttles, the dawn of the 21st century has seen a resurgence of mullet culture, obsession and pride. Though not necessarily in that order.

However, since their recession from the public eye and beauty shop, mullets and the people who love them have become the objects of ridicule, degradation and violence. This summer the Tory candidate for British Prime Minister, John Prescott, threw punches at a mullet-headed protestor who himself had thrown only an egg.

Ann Arbor, a community with a reputation of progressiveness and tolerance, has itself succombed to the easy evil of mullet bashing. T-shirts bearing the caveat “Fear the Mullet” have made their way into the display windows of local merchants and even the University community.

Mullets have featured in the lyrics of musical artists ranging from Wesley Willis (“Cut the Mullet) to the Beastie Boys (“Mullet Head”). Perhaps the essence of the mullet, however, has been captured no more poignantly than by the pen of an anonymous mullet philosopher poet:

O squirrel, your tail, my hair,

We are one.

Yet I must eat you.

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