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Will Ferrell tells Fresh Air why he's better than Supercuts

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.”

Then:

“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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5 Responses to Will Ferrell tells Fresh Air why he's better than Supercuts

  1. bob mason August 9, 2010 at 12:29 pm #

    The people who work at Supercuts and Marshall’s go to see movies where people like Ferrell make fun of them – the lowbrow middle class and the working class. These movies are popular – to some extent because these same people experience the jokes not at their expense, but as good-natured humor about how life is for us all. Then Ferrell yuks it up with Gross and reveals the contempt he has for his audience. Let’s ask this — who deserves respect for actually working? The people who sell clothes at Marshall that people actually wear when they go to work and live their lives, or the Will Ferrells of the world, who produce vacuous entertainment and are paid so well that they think going into the same store as their audience is at best a sick joke?

  2. James Beatty August 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

    Supercuts sucks. This is not a surprise. I’m not rich, I make hair appointments. I don’t spend $2000 per suit nor $300 per haircut. It was a funny bit on the radio. Get over yourself and by the way get a new haircut!

  3. John August 10, 2010 at 7:09 am #

    The truth is, bad suits and bad haircuts exist. And Will Ferrell wanted one of each. So what is he supposed to do? The truth is a person with a good sense of style will be able to look like a million bucks shopping at Marshalls as well as finding themselves a good barber/stylist — but of course it’s going to be harder and take more work than laying down the bucks in a place that is “two steps above.” To tell the truth, I agree with Matthew Lasar but also commenter James Beatty. The whole thing isn’t really worth discussing… ah the irony!

  4. Jake August 11, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    If it is not worth discussing, why do read the news on a website that comments on mass media? Of course it is worth discussing and you know that, since you wrote the second longest reply so far. But if you think that it is Ok to disrespect the poor when you aren’t, it is a mistake.

  5. Jackson January 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    I listened to this interview and thought it was great… so good in fact it tricked me into watching The Other Guys, which was not so great. If you don’t think it’s funny that someone like Will Ferrell made a drop in appointment at supercuts than there is something wrong with you. Supercuts business model is basically to prey on people that need a haircut and can’t get to anywhere good–that’s why they put them in strip malls and busy intersections. I mean what self respecting cosmetologist has to dress up like a shampoo bottle and dance around in traffic to attract customers?

    I will wholeheartedly apologize to whoever wrote this article, for thinking that they’re some kind of militant, promise keeper, duche-guzzeling, neocon, Terry Gross hating, coke-head, if they have ever personally gone to a super-cuts–by appointment: Nobody does. Ever. Period. It doesn’t matter how much you make, if you have the time to make an appointment on your day off then you have the time to find someplace that will cut your hair for $15 and do a damn site better than the barber college drop-outs at super-cuts.

    I went there once when my mom was in the hospital, because I was depressed and not thinking straight. In the chairs next to me were unwanted foster children, down-on-their-luck traveling salesmen, and other sad looking individuals who had either just lost a loved one, or caught a glimpse of what the barber just did to their head. It was hard to tell.

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