Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross had comedy actor Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay on Thursday to talk up their new movie The Other Guys. The inane conversation impressed me as one of those new Gilded Age moments—a chance to eavesdrop on three lucky people who are plainly contemptuous of most less fortunate Americans.
The featured flick is about the antics of two inept back-office cops. Around the middle of the interview, to the great amusement of Gross, Ferrell described the sartorial preparations for his character. These included looking for a suit at a store “the next step below” a Men’s Wearhouse, Ferrell explained, “maybe a Marshalls.”
“I wanted to give myself a standard issue haircut,” Ferrell continued. “And I did go to a Supercuts in the San Fernando Valley and just walked in and got a standard haircut.”
Gross began to chuckle at the mention of the word ‘Supercuts’. McKay laughed too, apparently thinking the “just walked in” thing was really funny. Ferrell slowed down his words while giggling from time to time.
“I then forwarded the pictures to Adam, and you kind of were shocked,” he went on, presumably turning to McKay.
The director explained the context. “It was a thing where we heard Will was going to do it,” he said. “In theory it sounded like such a great idea. But you know have to remember that when you’re about to go into a movie that look is what you carry for the whole movie, so . . . ”
Ferrell interrupted. “I think your quote was, ‘We still want you to look good on camera’.”
McKay laughed hard.
Ferrell: “The haircut was perfectly bad.”
McKay: “Oh yeah.”
Ferrell: “And we kind of had to reshape it.”
Gross asked a question: “Did the hair cutter not know who you were?”
“She cut my hair for fifteen minutes,” Ferrell continued, “and then half way she didn’t say a word and then finally, towards the end of the hair cut she’s like ‘You’re one of the step-brothers, aren’t you’? And I said ‘yes.’ And that’s all we mentioned. We didn’t talk any more. So, it was kind of funny.”
“And you didn’t say, ‘I came here expressly for a bad haircut’,” Gross half seriously asked.
“No. In fact very few words were spoken.”
McKay: “So it was an awkward silence?”
“It kind of was. It was kind of an awkward haircut,” Ferrell replied.
“Was there a dog barking in the distance?” McKay joked.
“There should have been,” Ferrell chuckled.
The subtext of this snobby conversation was obvious. “Do people really go to Supercuts? But how could this be?”
Apparently it occurred to none of these celebrities that most Americans can’t afford $300 for a haircut and $2,000 for a suit. Quite a few of them have, in fact, recently lost their jobs, savings, and homes due to the bad economy. I believe this has been reported on NPR from time to time.
So they actually, really, yes way, go to Supercuts and Marshalls and similar retail establishments near the multiplexes where Ferrell’s new movie will play. There are 2,100 Supercuts stores and about 750 Marshalls stores across the United States. They’re not the ritziest places in the world, but they’re affordable.
And since these silly people and their dogs don’t have personal assistants to make their hair styling appointments, they indeed “just walk in,” sign a list and wait for a cut, or wait on the Marshalls checkout lines to pay for their clothing. No private dressing rooms. No handlers. It’s brutal.
It also apparently did not occur to Ferrell that the woman who cut his hair may have thought that she was acting professionally by not fawning all over him during the task (much as he might have wanted her to).
I wonder how folks who listened to that show and regularly go to Supercuts and Marshalls felt while Ferrell told his story and Gross laughed. I go to those places from time to time. I know how I felt.
And it’s a confusing feeling, given that Terry Gross periodically has on advocates for the poor and oppressed on her show. She respects them, for sure, probably because she relates to them—journalists, academics, book authors—professionals like herself.
But at least I’m a little less confused about why the pseudo-populist Tea Party is such a big deal these days. I’m less mystified at why corporate backed Republicans successfully pawn themselves off as friends of the people.
Just listen to Fresh Air, where liberals and Hollywood stars no longer even conceal their amused disdain for a working class America that is barely getting by.
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