I hate to be the guy who knocks a perfectly well-intentioned cause. It’s like saying you don’t like puppies because they pee on the floor. “But they’re puppies,” everyone cries, “so cute and fuzzy and clumsy and – just look at them! Puppies!” True, but try getting the smell out of the carpet.
So, yes, I am that guy.
I’m the guy who has a problem with the month of Movember, the month men grow mustaches on their ugly mugs, the month of Mugly.
For starters, Movember excludes women (with the exception of a couple of distant great-aunts). Thanks for inviting us to that Breast Cancer Walk, ladies, but this one’s just for the boys – as opposed to real life, eh, sweetheart? [Chuckle, leer, wink, chuckle.] You’re welcome to cheer on our follicles, of course. And could you get us a beer while you’re at it? Thanks, hon!
Secondly, Movember is tied way too closely to notions of manhood. As a man who was well into his twenties before he was allowed to sit at the grown-up shaving table, I can confirm that the last thing a testosteronically-challenged young man wants to do is to explain that he would love to grow a mustache for charity but just can’t (as he simultaneously dislodges a cruelly administered wedgie).
Plus, Movember mustaches seem to be played mostly for laughs. And no wonder; no one looks good in a mustache, not even my Great Aunt Felista, whose mustache is really the only thing she has going for her. Instead, you have men walking around looking stupid. (Yeah, yeah, “So what else is new?” Who writes the jokes around here?)
This wouldn’t be so bad if Movember were supporting something other than prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer among men in Canada. Every day, 73 Canadian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 4000 die from the disease every year. The problem is that the prostate is also the funniest of all the glands. Entire comedy routines are built around the various embarrassments associated with the prostate. So: goofball mustaches? Not adding gravitas to the prostate.
Because of all this, when I hear “Movember,” I tend to roll my eyes. If I had a mustache, I’d look like Groucho Marx. But I don’t have a mustache, so instead I just look obnoxious.
This year, though, I learned that the Movember movement is now supporting not just prostate cancer research but also men’s mental health.
Now that’s more like it, because nothing embodies a desperate cry for help quite like an impulsively grown moustache. Some of the most mentally imbalanced men in history have worn moustaches: Hitler, Stalin, Hulk Hogan…
Mostly, though, I feel that when it comes to mental health, we men need all the help we can get.
It’s no secret that men tend to repress their demons and emotions. This repression is terrible for mental health, though great for the beer and whiskey industry.
In addition, more men than women suffer from debilitating brain gunk. What’s brain gunk? You know when you take apart an old kitchen drain and it’s nearly clogged solid by years and years of waste, scraps and general scum? Brain gunk’s like that, except it involves baseball stats and the chorus to “Red Solo Cup.”
Because of brain gunk, men’s brains don’t process properly, and without a proper purging, soon every rational thought is replaced by eighties-era Heart ballads.
One of the only ways to counter brain gunk is through humour, specifically laughing at ourselves. Laughing at others, on the other hand, doesn’t help anyone. Neither do the wedgies.
Silly moustaches, then, are tough on brain gunk.
I’m all for anything that gets men talking about mental health and hopefully making the issues as clear as the crumbs in the moustache under the nose on your face. And though I won’t be jumping on the Movember bandwagon due to a) the principles I have stated above and must now stand behind like a man, and b) the awesomeness of my new beard, I hope you’ll show your support during Mugly in a way you’re comfortable with. And remember: you don’t have to be crazy to grow a moustache, but it helps.