View From The Side: Movember


Movember promotes awareness about men’s health issues- key to its success is the act of growing a mo; tapping into something more puerile, yet more compelling than the real charitable cause.  You could say that Movember caught the Christmas bug – the true charitable meaning lost in a blizzard of self indulgence. How many Xmas lovers endure the rigmarole of weekly church sermons – how many of these moustachioed bandwagonists make charitable donations? The vast majority are fraudulent opportunists, vainly cultivating hairy plumages without a sponsorship form in sight. If anything, it’s brought more awareness about the vanity of the common man than locating testicle lumps.

Since the 80’s the mo has gained steam as a social stigma, virtually outlawed at the turn of the millennium. But for many, that itch never went away and the more it was suppressed, the more it festered. Then Movember happened, and the annual amnesty in upper lip hair gave the average man the excuse to demonstrate his flamboyant individualism without repercussions. Those repressed urges to mimic Magnum, Freddie Mercury, Hitler etc, which lay fearfully dormant for 11 months of the year, came out flying out of the closet quicker than a camp frisbee.

Forward-wind 10 years and the climate is different. The Hipster code of conduct has legalised the tash and a new wave of mo sympathisers are wobbling the real drawcard of Movember – that yearly pass is losing its sheen. It’s no big deal nowadays to see a young gent donning a neat pubic mound under his nose, nonchalantly masquerading under the banner of fashion. Together with his charity shop sartorial schizophrenia you might not like the cut of his hipster jib, in fact it might drive you to a violent GTA style cull, but the moustache is undeniably en vogue.

To understand how culturally engrained the mo is, you just have to look at how it has permeated the class system. From top to bottom it has run wild – like a 15th century syphilitic pandemic, it leaves no stone unturned. Builders to bankers, premiership footballers to postmen – everyone’s been infected, the faux pas is all but extinct. This freebie fashion accessory takes on many forms, from the irritably sculpted metrosexual mo to the thick untamed no-nonsense loaf mo. The choices are unapologetic and provide a deep insight into the wearer. It’s a common fact that some women gaze into a suitors shoes for an instant compatibility test – forget the banter, the looks, the car, the money, they’re all peripheral considerations as she diverts her eyes to decode my shabby brogues, revealing that I’m shit in bed and was once a Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. But I wonder if the style of mo offers a less ridiculous insight than the shoes – the parameters of the mo are a far better barometer, “let’s see, he’s got a suspiciously thin moustache – must have a dick like a bookies pencil”, or “wow, what a girth, surely a reflection of his financial status”.

Of course, this is foreboding for the Movember organisers, with its success firmly rooted in the camaraderie, daring-ness and extroversion of November’s communal growth spurt. And that is a sad thing. But it’s not a lost cause. The brand could evolve, abandon the tash and exploit a different taboo, raise the stakes and take on a hot potato that most would drop like a Saville allegation. And paedophilia might just be the answer. It's an awkward subject, with an accompanying stigma that out-punches the mo. The recent parade of our most beloved children's entertainers falling from grace has raised the nation’s eyebrows and frenzied the tabloids. The Catholic Church was one thing, but not even Shakespeare could have scripted this irony – an epidemic of predators running rife around Shephard's Bush, a playground knocking shop that lived above the law.

So how could this delicate topic be woven into a charitable strategy? Obviously I’m not proposing the partaking in such acts – even for charity – but perhaps fund raising could move into the lucrative world of betting, offering odds on the next celebrity kiddy fiddler outing. Imagine a Saturday night prime time show, an all singing all dancing cross between the National Lottery and Crimewatch. Brucie at the helm, stuttering his way to the weekly unveiling, condemning another ex colleague to fanfares and fireworks, flanked by his glossy harem and feeding the newly outed paedo to the snarling pantomime audience. Did your man come up Mavis? Oh tough luck, it’s all for a good cause. 

Words: Mantis 'Mo' Kane

@MantisKane and